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Mahakaleshwar Temple

About Mahakaleshwar Temple:

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, shrines which are said to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva.

The gumbaj or the pinnacle of the temple has intricate and beautiful carvings, and it adds to the majestic beauty and enhances its divinity. This ancient monument finds a mention in the Puranas, and it proves that fact that it has been in existence since time immemorial.

This Jyotirlinga is famous for its Bhasma Aarti, meaning aarti with ash. If you visit the Mahakaleshwar and return without witnessing the Bhasma Aarti, then you would be missing out on a visually captivating and spiritually enchanting sight. The aarti is one of the first rituals performed at around 4 AM, to wake up the deity after Jal Abhishek. The Bhasma Aarti, exclusive to the Mahakaleshwar temple, is conducted with Vibhuti, sacred ash. The reason why the aarti is done after smearing Bhasma could be because Mahakaleshwar means the God who controls time, which is beyond man's control. A man is reduced to ash post-death, and hence, it could symbolise the act of bowing in front of the Mahakal, meaning the one who is the God of time.

History of Mahakaleshwar Temple:

The presiding deity of this ancient temple is the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, a Swayambhu, meaning a self-originated Linga. It derives strength from itself, and the need to infuse powers by performing the mantra shakti is not necessary.

Interestingly, the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is Dakshinamukhi, meaning it faces the south, unlike the rest of the Jyotirlingas. Temple idols usually don't face the southern direction, and hence the speciality. The main temple complex is a three-storeyed structure with the Lingas of Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar and Nagchandreshwar installed in lower, middle and upper tiers respectively. Devotees can worship the Nagchandreshwar Linga only on Nag Panchgami, and it remains inaccessible to the common public on a regular day. One can also find a Kunda named Koti Teertha inside the temple complex. For the unversed, the presence of a kunda (a small water body or a pond) is a common feature in the ancient temple complexes.

The gumbaj or the pinnacle of the temple has intricate and beautiful carvings, and it adds to the majestic beauty and enhances its divinity. This ancient monument finds a mention in the Puranas, and it proves that fact that it has been in existence since time immemorial.

Best Time to Visit:

October to March are the best months to visit as the weather is pleasant and windy. It is the perfect time for sightseeing as the entire place looks spellbinding with temperatures hovering at a pleasant 20 degree celcius. During winters the whole town is enveloped in mist when the mornings are chill and nights face frigid temperatures. Summers are comparatively torrid with temperatures reaching as high as 45-degree Celsius like other parts of Madhya Pradesh.

Features:

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamukhi, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north, and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Timing for Aarti:

The aarti is one of the first rituals performed at around 4 am, to wake up the deity after Jal Abhishek.

Timing for Darshan at Mahakaleshwar Temple:

It is open to the people since 4 in the morning as Jagar before sunrise is performed up to Bhasmarti. Closing time is 11 o' clock at night.

Location:

It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

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