Ujjain is a city fallen from heaven so that there may be a heaven on earth! Ujjain originally called as Avantika in the age of Upanishads and Puranas is one of India’s most sacred and holy cities. In Sanskrit text, Ujjain has been eulogized as
" the very home of the golden age paved with jewels full of romance with dancing girls in the temples and love inevery heart."
This is the city where according to tradition reigned the exceptionally wise sovereign Vikramaditya the patron of Kalidasa and this was where Prince Ashoka was posted to serve out his vice regality during the Mauryan period. And from Ujjain Emperor Ashoka’s Son Mahendra and daughter, Sanghamitra, were born, educated and dispatched on their Buddhist mission to Sri Lanka.
Kalidas’s ( the reputed poet) love of Ujjayani finds full expression in his romantic poem Meghdut, the cloud messenger. It describes the anguish of a yaksha, separated from his beloved by a curse, sending a message to her in the city of Alaka through a rain cloud from his exile in Ramanagri ( now identified as Ramtek near Negpur) that. the poet describe imaginary passage of the cloud over Ujjayani and almost as if it is loath to move .
Ujjain controls the destinies of millions of Indians.
The relationship between astrology and astronomy is a time honored one in India, and Ujjain has unique significance for fortunetellers. There is a curious temple dedicated to the worship of the nine planets- the Navagrahas.
The first meridian, stretching from Sri Lanka to Lengendary Mount Meru, passes through here; so does the line marking the northern limit of the sun’s apparent wintry passage across the heavens. Thus, to his date, Ujjain controls the destinies of millions of Indians. Horoscopes are cast using the tables, the ephemeris produced annually in Ujjain.
The astrologer king Jai Singh who built Jaipur had constructed one of his famous observatories – the Jantar Mantar here. In course of time it was recognized as a principal center of researches in astronomy and astrology. The observatory continues to be used for astronomical researches to date.
The city has many shrines dedicated to the worship of Bhairav, a fierce manifestation of Shiva, and Shakti, the female principle, primal cosmic energy which has to be propitiated with scarifies.
In the temple of Harsiddhi Devi one can see a stone boulder painted over with Vermillion, which symbolizes the head of the legendary king Vikram offered to mother goddess in sacrifice.
The presiding deity of the time, Lord Shiva in all his splendor, reigns eternal in Ujjain. The divine lingam (Phallus) is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India and is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving its shakti or power from within itself.
One of the rituals, the Bhasam Arti, in the Mahakal temples involves smearing the lingam with still hot ashes from the burning banks in homage to great lord the master of death, the dweller of cremation grounds. It is easy to sneer and back away in revulsion but the symbolism should not be lost sight of Death and life in Hindu tradition form parts of an inseparable continuum. Creation and destruction alternate cyclically. Death must be faced squarely and accepted as inevitable reality before life can assert itself.
Bade Ganeshji ka Mandir, Harisiddhi temple,Kal Bharava temple, Gola temple, Navagraha temple (temple dedicated to nine planets) are some other famous temples of this old city.
These caves near the Gadkalika temple are where the great scholar poet Bhartrihari, who is said to have been the step-brother of Vikramaditya, lived and medicated after renouncing the worldly life. His famous works, Shrigarshatak, Vairagyashatak and Nitishatak are known for the exquisite use of the Sanskrit meter.
Bhartrihari was a king who renounced this world when he discovered that his favorite queen pined for some one else. The poor king was in for even greater heartbreak when he found out the queen’s paramour was himself ensnared in the love coils of another – a beautiful courtesan. This girl, in turn, could think of no one else but king Bhartrihari! Complications of love life inspired Bhartrihari to become a recluse and a poet. The opening verse of his Vairagyashatak begins with a lament and ends with a wry curse-Yam chintyami satamtam mayi sa virakta ( The one I pine for is indifferent to me) and Dhik tam cha tam cha madanam cha imam cha mam cha! ( Woe be to us all she, her lover, the cupid, myself and all this world !) Some rocks caves are associated with the hermit Bhartrihari.
Built by Mahumad Khilji in 1458 A.D. The story goes that the tanks were constructed all around to keep the temperature very low by Sultan Nasiruddin Khilji, the Sultan of Malwa in the 16th century because he was in the habit of taking mercury which is hot. The central dome is in Persian architectural style and inscription records the visits of Emperor Akbar and EMPEROR Jahangir to this place. The place was broken down in the time of Pindaris and was restored by Mandav Rao Scindia in 1920 to its present glory. The Sun temple was also restored by this family.