Ujjjain's Mahakaleshwar temple may have attracted headlines with its recently inaugurated Mahakal Lok corridor. However, for ages, the temple has been one of the most visited shrines by devotees for generations. Mahakal is the only jyotirlinga out of 12 that faces the south, while the others face the east. This is because the direction of death is believed to be the south and it is said that people worship Mahakaleshwar to prevent untimely death. With nothing but fun in mind, we hit the roads to attend the Mahakaleshwar morning aarti.
Covering a distance of about 650 kilometres from Mumbai we left behind the patriotic celebration of Republic Day and straight headed to Ujjain with cold weather to accompany us. It was time for us to pull out our always-hidden woollen wear. As we dozed off a bit barring the driver, the first sight after our sleep was stunning sunrise followed by quick bites. Ujjain has famous and ancient temples, one of the oldest being the bathing ghat, Ram Ghat.
Braving the traffic we entered the city of Ujjain and we still had time to catch the aarti so decided to grab some food. We settled for Indian food and faced the Narmada river ahead of its birth celebration on January 28.
Narmada Jayanti Mela 2023 | Swarna Srikanth
Decked in tricolour with flowers Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga seeped in the feeling of peace and the emotion of fun quickly changed into spiritual bliss.
Post our visit to Omkareshwar we walked a few steps to explore Mamleshwar temple. If you are planning to visit Omkareshwar anytime soon, we recommend doing online bookings.
Omkareshwar darshan on Republic Day | Swarna Srikanth
It was like a mission completed when we successfully captured our spot amidst the crowd inside the temple. The morning aarti is popularly known as Bhasma aarti (salutations with sacred ash). People queue up inside the temple around 2.30 am to witness the stunning holy spectacle combined with loud chanting by the priests. The morning ritual begins in the brahmamuhrat and continues till minutes past 6. We heard, there used to be live music but we didn't get to experience it. It is advised to wear modest Indian clothes (preferably a sari/dhoti) and in case you are tempted to do a quick Instagram live session or a selfie with your friends and family, you will be disappointed, for photography is not allowed on the premises.
Bhasma Aarti - Mahakaleshwar temple |
Tempted to see the site that was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi, post our darshan we headed to the Mahakal Lok Corridor which is about a kilometre long with 192 life-size statues, 53 murals, and 108 stambhs that display stories about Shiva from the Indian scriptures.
We were looking forward to seeing them at night as the place lights up at its best in the evening. While the temples were decked with mesmerising paintings and sculptures, roads, on the other hand, had marriage processions boasting the city's cultural significance.
Mahakal Lok Corridor |
Home to a large number of temples and religious sites, Ujjain is one of the most fascinating places in India with its religious significance. It is one of the seven sacred cities in India that hosts millions of devotees at the Hindu festival 'Kumbh Mela' every 12 years. The splendid temples and other tourist sites attract a large number of tourists from around the world. Take a walk around and you are left mesmerised by the sculptures and monasteries that are evidence of Buddhism, which thrived in the 4th century.
Some of the must-visit places in Ujjain are Kalbhairav temple, Mangalnath temple, and the temple of planet Mars, which is about 30 minutes away from Mahakal. A priest in the temple told us that Mangalnath temple in Ujjain is worshipped as the birthplace of Mangal (Mars) and is also the closest point from Earth to Mars. Visiting this place on Tuesday is considered auspicious.
While you are in Ujjain, grab a few souvenirs for your friends and family members back home. Most of the temples are nestled between local markets which offer religious accessories. Several shops in the city offer temple-themed dupattas and kurtas. Beware of monkeys at the Kalbhairav temple, though, they are friendly and you can feed them as well. Do stop by to sip kulhad wali chai before you take your journey back home.
A glimpse from the Kalbhairav temple premises | Swarna Srikanth
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