The 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva
Mahakaleshwar - Ujjain or Avanti in Madhya Pradesh. Ujjain, a historic capital of Central India in Madhya Pradesh is a venerated pilgrimage center enshrining Mahakaleshwara, one of the Jyotirlinga manifestations of Shiva.
The Skanda Purana describes the glory of Ujjain (Mahakaala Vana) in great detail. Ujjain was the capital of Avanti and it was here that King Udayana married princess Vasavadatta. Ujjain played an important role during the period of the Mauryas and the Guptas.
King Vikramaditya Chandragupta of the Gupta period ruled with Ujjain as his capital, and the Nava Ratnas or nine gems - Dhanvantari, Kshapanaka, Amarasimha, Sanku, Vetala Bhatta, Ghatakharpara, Varahamihira, Vararuchi and Kalidasa adorned his court. The Mahakaleshwar Temple has also been referred to in the Tamil hymns of the Nayanmar saints of the 1st millennium CE.
Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram, Dwarka and Ujjain are considered to be the 7 Mukti Stalas of India. Ujjain is home to the Kumbha Mela, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Scorpio.
The Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain is located near a lake; it has five levels, one of which is underground.The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls. The shikhara is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.
Legend has it that a demon by name Dushana tormented the residents of Avanti and that Shiva appeared from the ground and vanquished the demon, and then upon the request of the inhabitants of Avanti, took up permanent abode here as Mahakaleshwara Jyotirlinga. Also in Ujjain is the temple to Parvati - Harasiddhi Devi temple.
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