Ujjain

 
 
Ram_Ghat_Ujjain.jpgModern Ujjain is situated on the banks of the river Shipra, regarded since times immemorial as sacred. The belief in the sacredness of Shipra, has its origins in the ancient Hindu mythological tale of churning of the Ocean by the Gods and the Demons, with Vasuki, the serpent as the rope. The ocean bed first yielded fourteen gems, then Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and finally the coveted vessel of Nectar. Then began the wild scramble for immortality with the demons chasing the Gods across the skies, and in the process, a few drops were spilt, and fell at Hardwar, Nasik, Prayag, and Ujjayini. Hence the sanctity of the waters of the Shipra.

Ujjain is the modern name for Ujjayini. Legend has it that in the hoary past, the God like king Shiva of Avanti commemorated his victory over the demon-ruler of Tripura or Tripuri on the banks of the Narmada by changing the name of his capital, Avantipura to Ujjayini (one who conquers with pride).

The magnificence and awesome spectacle of the bathing ritual at Simhastha defies description. Beginning on the full moon day in Chaitra (April), it continues into Vaishakha (May), until the next full moon day. Ujjain turns, amidst a riot of colours, into an India in miniature. 

Places to visit


Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir

This temple situated above the tank near the Mahakaleshwar temple, enshrines a huge artistic sculpture of Ganesh, the son of Shiva. An idol of this size and beauty is rarely to be found. The middle of the temple is adorned by an idol of the pancha-mukhi (five faced) Hanuman. There is provision for learning of Sanskrit and Astrology in the temple.
This temple situated above the tank near the Mahakaleshwar temple, enshrines a huge artistic sculpture of Ganesh, the son of Shiva. An idol of this size and beauty is rarely to be found. The middle of the temple is adorned by an idol of the pancha-mukhi (five faced) Hanuman. There is provision for learning of Sanskrit and Astrology in the temple.

Chintaman Ganesh
The temple is built across the Shipra on the Fatehabad railway line. The Ganesh idol enshrined here is supposed to be swayambhu - born of itself. The temple itself is believed to be of considerable antiquity. Riddhi and Siddhi, the consorts of Ganesha, are seated on either side of Ganesha. The artistically carved pillars in the assembly hall date back to the Paramara period. Worshippers throng to this temple because the deity here is traditionally known as Chintaharan Ganesh meaning "the assurer of freedom from worldly anxieties".

Pir Matsyendranath
This is an extremely attractive spot on the banks of the Shipra quite close to the Bhartihari Caves and the Gadkalika Temple. It is dedicated to the memory of one of the great leaders of the Natha sect of Saivism-Matsyendranath. Since Muslims as well as the followers of the Natha sect call their saints 'pir', the ancient site of Pir Matsyendranath is venerated by both. Excavations at this site have yielded some antiquities which date back to the 6th and 7th century BC.

Bhartrihari Caves
These caves are situated just above the bank of the Shipra near the temple of Gadkalika. According to popular tradition, this is the spot where Bhartrihari, who is said to have been the step brother of Vikramaditya, lived and meditated after renouncing worldly life. He is believed to have been a great scholar and poet. His famous works, Shringarshatak, Vairagyashatak, and Nitishatak, are known for the exquisite use of the Sanskrit meter. These caves are situated just above the bank of the Shipra near the temple of Gadkalika. According to popular tradition, this is the spot where Bhartrihari, who is said to have been the step brother of Vikramaditya, lived and meditated after renouncing worldly life. He is believed to have been a great scholar and poet. His famous works, Shringarshatak, Vairagyashatak, and Nitishatak, are known for the exquisite use of the Sanskrit meter.

Kaliadeh Palace

Situated on the banks of the Shipra, the island-like site immediately conjures up the natural beauty of ancient Ujjain which poets down the ages have waxed lyrical. The glorious landscape of the flowing river on both sides of the palace and the man-made tanks and channels, with water gurgling through them, provide  spec-    -tacular backdrop to the imposing building. The central dome of the palace is a beautiful example of Persian architecture. Two Persian inscriptions found in one of the long corridors of the palace record the visits of Emperor Akbar and Jehangir to this palace. The palace was broken down in the time of the Pindaris and was restored by Madhav Rao Scindia in 1920 to its present glory. The Sun Temple was also restored by the family.

Harsiddhi Temple
This temple occupies a special place in the galaxy of ancient sacred spots of Ujjain. Seated between the idols of Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the idol of Annapurna is painted in dark vermilion colour. The Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or shakti, is also enshrined in the temple. According to the Shiva Purana, when Shiva carried away the
burning body of Sati from the sacrificial fire, her elbow dropped at this place. There is an interesting legend in the Skanda Purana about the manner in which the Goddess Chandi acquired the epithet of Harsiddhi. Once when Shiva and Parvati were alone on Mount Kailash, two demons called Chand and Prachand tried to force their way in. Shiva called upon Chandi to destroy them which she did. Pleased, Shiva bestowed upon her the epithet of 'one who vanquishes all'. The temple was reconstructed during the Maratha period and the two pillars adorned with lamps are special features of Maratha art. These lamps, lit during Navaratri, present a glorious spectacle. There is an ancient well on the premises, and an artistic pillar adorns the top of it.

Gopal Mandir
This huge temple is situated in the middle of the big market square. It was constructed by Bayajibai Shinde, the queen of Maharajah Daulat Rao Shinde in the 19th century. It is a beautiful example of Maratha architecture. The sanctum sanctorum is inlaid with marble and doors are silver plated. The door in the inner sanctum is said to have been carried to Ghazni from the Somnath temple and from thence by Mahmud Shah Abdali to Lahore. Mahadji Scindia recovered it and now it has been installed in this temple.

Navagraha Mandir (Triveni)
Situated on the Triveni Ghat of the Shipra, the temple is located away from the old site of Ujjaini town. It is dedicated to the nine planets, attracts large crowds on new moon days falling on Saturdays. Its religious importance has increased in recent years though there is no known reference to it in the ancient texts.

Mahakaleshwar
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupation's, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions. The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupation's, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions.

The Vedha Shala (Observatory)
Ujjain enjoyed a position of considerable importance in the field of astronomy. Great works on astronomy such as the Surya Siddhanta and the Panch Siddhanta were written in Ujjain. According to Indian astronomers, the Tropic of Cancer is supposed to pass through Ujjain. It is also the fist meridian of longitude of the Hindu geographers. From about the 4th century BC, Ujjain enjoyed the reputation of being India's Greenwich. The observatory extant today was built by Raja Jai Singh (1686-1743), who was a great scholar. He translated the works of Ptolemy and Euclid into Sanskrit from Arabic. Of the many observatories built by him at Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi, Mathura, and Ujjain, the one at Ujjain is still in use actively. Astronomical studies are conducted through the Department of Education and the ephemeris is published every year. There is a small planetarium and a telescope to observe the moon, Mars, Jupiter and their satellites. The observatory is also used for weather forecasts.

Sandipani Ashram

The fact that ancient Ujjain apart from its political and religious importance, enjoyed the reputation of being a great seat of learning as early as the Mahabharata period is borne out by the fact that, Lord Krishna and Sudama received regular instruction in the ashram of Guru Sandipani. The area near the ashram is known as Ankapata, popularly believed to have been the place used by Lord Krishna for washing his writing tablet. The numerals 1 to 100 found on a stone are believed to have been engraved by Guru Sandipani. 

Access


Air :    Nearest airport is Indore (55 km) which is connected by flights with Delhi, Gwalior, Bhopal and Mumbai.

Rail : Ujjain is a railway station on the Bhopal-Nagada sector of the Western Railway.

Road : Regular bus services connect Ujjain with Indore, Bhopal, Ratlam, Gwalior, Mandu, Dhar and Omkareshwar.

Best Season : Throughout the year. 

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