One of the famous Hindu temples in India dedicated to Lord Shiva is the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, shrines which are said to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva.

It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the holy river Shipra. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.

Legend Behind Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga

Legend says that Lord Brahma and Lord once argued over who was supreme in the creation. To test them, Lord Shiva pierced the three worlds as an endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma decided to travel along the pillar downwards and upwards respectively, to find the end of the light. Brahma lied that he had found the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as the second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The Jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears.

Architecture and Temple structure-

The idol of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is known to be Dakshina Mukhi, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Kartikeya are installed in the west, north, and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. It is believed that Prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered, unlike all other shrines.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga as a Shaktipeeth 

The shrine is revered as one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetham. Shakti Peethas are shrines that are believed to have been enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi when Lord Shiva carried it. Each of the 51 Shakti Peethas has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here and the Shakti is called  Mahakali.

Festivals of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga-

On the day of Maha Shivaratri, a huge fair is held near the temple, and worship goes on through the night. Also, an awesome spectacle, with huge participation of devotees, is the procession of God Mahakaal in his Palanquin, called Shahi Savaari, to the river Kshipra, on last Monday of the holy period of Sawan during the months of Shraavana or Bhadrapada.

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Also read: Pradosh Vrat: Benefits, Significance and Puja Vidhi

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