Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ujjain Hindu Temples Pilgrimage | Ujjain Places Attractions | Hindu Temples Ujjain | Ujjain Tourism

Ujjain, also known by the names of Unain, Ujjayini, Avanti and Avantikapuri is a historic city located in the Malwa region of Madha Pradesh in central India. Ujjain is situated on the eastern bank of the holy River Shipra and is one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus. It is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division. 

In ancient times the city was called Ujjayini. The reference of city is found in Mahabharata epic, Ujjayini was the capital of the Avanti Kingdom. Hindus believe that during "Sagar Manthan", one drop of nectar spilled over Ujjain and two parts of Skanda Purana were written here. Ujjain is one the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus, and the Kumbh Mela religious festival is held there every 12th year.  It is also home to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines to the God Shiva and is also the place where Lord Krishna got education with Balarama and Sudama from Maharshi Sandipani.

Ujjain is a perfect treat for religious tourists from Hindu religion. The city has numerous old temples that hold high significance in the Hindu culture. Other than the religious tourist spots, tourists can enjoy the astronomical centers like Ujjain Observatory and old caves like Bhartrihari caves. 

Ujjain History

The early history of Ujjain is lost in the midst of antiquity. As early as the time of the Aryan settlers, Ujjain seems to have acquired importance. By the 6th century B.C. Avanti with its capital at Ujjaini, is mentioned in Buddhist literature as one the four great powers along with Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha. It is also reputed to have been the residence of Ashoka (who subsequently became the emperor), when he was the viceroy of the western provinces of the Mauryan empire. Ujjain lay on the main trade route between North India and Deccan going from Mathura via Ujjain to Mahismati (Maheshwar) on the Narmada, and on to Paithan on the Godavari, western Asia and the West.

Following the enthroning of the Gupta dynasty, the city soon became an important seat in the annals of that empire. Ujjain is considered to be the traditional capital of King Chandragupta II, also known as Vikramaditya, at whose court the nine poets known as the navaratna (nine jewels) of Sanskrit literature are said to have flourished.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Ujjain was a major centre of mathematical and astronomical research. The famous mathematicians who worked there included: Brahmagupta, whose book Brahmasphutasiddhanta was responsible for spreading the use of zero, negative numbers and the positional number system to Arabia and Cambodia; Varahamihira, who was the first to discover many trigonometric identities; and Bhaskaracharya, or Bhaskara II, whose book Lilavati broke new ground in many areas of mathematics.

The earliest known epigraphic record of the Paramaras, the Harsola Granth, issued at the beginning of the 10th century AD, maintains that the kings of the Paramara dynasty were born in the family of the Rastrakutas in the Deccan The early Paramara chiefs of Malwa were probably vassals of the Rastrakutas. The Udaypur Prasati, mentions Vakpati Vakpati I as the king of Avanti and it was probably in his region that the Rastrakuta Indra III halted at Ujjain while advancing with his army against the Pratihara Mahipala I. Malwa was lost in the time of Vakpati's successor, Vairisimha II, to the invading forces of Mahipala I who avenged his defeat at the hands of Indra III by invading the empire of Rastrakuta. Mahipala and his Kalachuri confederate Bhamanadeva are said to have conquered the territory up to the banks of the Narmada including Ujjain and Dhar. The Paramara sovereignty in the Malwa ceased until AD 946 when Vairsimha II became dominant in the area. It is in his son Siyaka II's reign that the independent Paramara rule in Malwa began. It is believed that it was this time that the capital was shifted to the area of the Mahakala Vana in Ujjain. From the 9th to the 12th centuries, the Paramaras became so identified with Ujjain that subsequent tradition has converted Vikramaditya into a Paramara. The last Paramara ruler, Siladitya, was captured alive by the Sultans of Mandu, and Ujjain passed into the hands of the Muslims.

Thus began a long era of misfortune and decay and the ancient glory of Ujjayini was lost in a morass of repeated inroads of attacking hordes. The invasion of Ujjain by Iltutmish in 1234 triggered off a systematic desecration and despoiling of temples. This tide of destruction was stemmed only in the time of Baz Bahadur of Mandu. The Mughal rule heralded a new era in reconstruction. Emperor Akbar put an end to Baz Bahadur's hegemony over Malwa and had a city wall constructed for the defense of Ujjain. The Nadi Darwaza, Kaliadeh Darwaza, Sati Darwaza, Dewas Darwaza and Indore Darwaza were the various entrances to the city. In 1658 took place a battle near Ujjain in which Aurangzeb and Murad defeated Maharaj Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, who was fighting on behalf of Prince Dara. The actual scene of the battle is Dharmatpura, renamed Fatehbad by Aurangzeb, after the victory. The cenotaph of Raja Rattan Singh of Ratlam, who fell in the battle, still stands at the site. In the reign of Mahmud Shah, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh was made the Governor of Malwa, a great scholar of astronomy, he had the observatory at Ujjain reconstructed and built several temples.

At the beginning of the 17th century, Ujjain and Malwa went through another period of seize and invasion at the hands of the Marathas, who gradually captured the entire region. The Maratha domination of Malwa gave impetus to a cultural renaissance in the region and modern Ujjain came into being. Most of the temples of Ujjain were constructed during this period. It was during this time that Ujjain became the meeting ground of painters of the Poona and Kangra styles. The impact of the two different styles of painting is distinctive. The examples of Maratha style are found in the temples of Ram Janardan, Kal Bhairava, Kalpeshwar and Tilakeshwar while the traditional Malwa style can be seen in the Sandipani Ashram and in many large houses of the local seths.

During the last half of the 18th century Ujjain was the headquarters of the Maratha leader Scindia. The Scindias later established themselves at Gwalior, and Ujjain remained part of Gwalior state until Indian Independence in 1947. Gwalior state became a princely state of the British Raj after the Maratha defeat in the Third Anglo Maratha War, and Gwalior, Ujjain, and the neighboring princely states were made a part of the Central India. After Indian Independence, the scindia ruler of Gwalior acceded to the Indian Union, and Ujjain became part of the Madhya Bharat state. In 1956 Madhya Bharat was merged into the Madhya Pradesh State.

Today, Ujjain abounds in temples, hoary old tradition attached to each of them. But though most of them have been built upon sites of antiquity, none of them has survived in the original splendor. Desecrated and despoiled time and time again, the structures that stand today are of more recent date, renovated or rebuilt over the years. And yet, the temples form an integral part of the city and contribute to the continuity of Ujjain's tradition of greatness.

Ancient monuments and tourist sites in Ujjain

Mahakaleshwara Temple

Mahakaleshwar temple is a must visit in Ujjain, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Shivling in this temple is supposed to be the only Jyotirling which faces south and hence it is known as Dakshinmukhi or the south-facing ling. It is the most popular and important temple of Ujjain. Every year on Shivratri (claimed to be the wedding day of Lord Shiva), there is a huge crowd of devotees for darshan. The same kind of public crowd can be seen in the month of Savaan, Nagpanchami. On every Monday of "Savan", there is a huge procession for the Lord Shiva idol in the city attended by large numbers of devotees from across the India.  In the temple there are statues of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya placed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum and to the south is Nandi. 

It is believed that Mahakal dominates the life of Ujjain city and its people. The unique feature of the temple is its tantric tradition that is to be found only in Ujjain Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. Bhasm Arti, which involves smearing the linga with ashes from the burning ghats is conducted at Mahakaleshwar temple as respect to the destroyer of universe, Lord Shiva.

Bhartrihari Caves

The Bharthari caves is an ancient site which has some interesting legends associated with it. Bhartrihari caves, situated just above the bank of the River Shipra in Ujjain, is the spot where Bhartrihari lived and meditated after renouncing worldly life. Bhartrihari was a great scholar, poet and the step brother of King Vikramaditya, whose famous work include Shringarshataka, Vairagyashataka, and Nitishataka.

It is said that it holds tunnels which lead directly to 4 ancient dhams (char dham). These ways were later shut down by Britishers.

Kal Bahirav Temple

Kal Bhairav temple of Ujjain is enshrined with the idol of Kal Bhairava, who is the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva. The temple is well known for its exquisite painting in Malwa style. Bhairava is believed to have been a part of the Kapalika and Aghora sects that are associataed with 'Tantra' (black magic). Tourists can find holy men with ash smeared on their body and liquor being offered as a part of the ritual to Kal Bhairava. Close by is the village of Bhairogarh, famous for its ancient technique in cloth printing.

Harsiddhi Temple

Harsiddhi Temple is one of the shaktipeeths of Hindu Mythology, dedicated to Goddess Annapurna. The idol of Goddess Annapurna is made up of a rock painted in dark vermilion color, and seated between Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati. Another tourist attraction of Harsiddhi temple is Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or Shakti. The temple has two unique iron lamp sheds where hundreds of lamps can burn simultaneously giving the tourists a wonderful sight.

Kaliadesh Palace

The Kaliyadeh Palace, located on the north of the city, is one of the palaces belonging to royal Scindia family of Madhya Pradesh. Kaliadeh palace, situated on the banks of the Shipra in Ujjain, is a 15th century palace that was built by the sultans of Mandu. The palace is a beautiful example of Persian architecture with unique features like central halls, galleries, man-made tanks and Persian inscriptions. Though now in ruins, the palace still provides a glorious look with River Shipra flowing on both sides of the palace.

Chintamani Ganesh

A temple of considerable antiquity and popular place of pilgrimage, the idol here is believed to be self formed

Sri Sri Radha Madan Temple

Sri Sri Radha Madan Mohan Temple, of the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) or Hare Krishna Movement, also has a guest house and restaurant, and is a major attraction for tourists, though it is very new on the map of Ujjain.

Sandipani Ashram

The Sandipani Ashram is where tradition says Shri Krishna was educated with Balrama and Sudama from Maharshi Sandipani.


Canopy (Chhatri or Dewali) of Veer Durgadas Rathore "the Great Warrior and protector of Marwar" at Chakratirth.

The Observatory

The Observatory (Vedha Shala) built by a Rajput king, Raja Jai Singh II, in the 1720s, is one of the five such observatories in India and features ancient astronomical devices.

Jain temples: Jai Singh Pura Atishay Kshetra, Tapobhoomi, Avanti Parshwanath, Hanumant Baag, Manibhadradham Bhairavgarh.

The throne of Maharaja Vikramaditya, known as the "seat of judgment (salabanjika throne)" may be located in the Rudra Sagar lake.

Other temples are Harsidhhi (Durga Temple), Gadh Kalika, Kaal Bhairav, Triveni (Nav Graha Shani Mandir), Mangalnaath, Siddhhanath and Shiv Shakti.