Considered one of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities, Ujjain is also one of the four centres of the 12-yearly Kumbh Mela (Simhastha). The holy town sees a steady stream of pilgrims through the year, but at the time of the Kumbh the stream swells to a flood.
The main temples include the Mahakaleshwar Temple, Bade Ganeshji ka Mandir, Harsidhi Temple and the Chintamani Ganesh Temple. The Mahakaleshwar Temple, dedicated to shiva, and housing one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, was rebuilt by the Marathas in the 18th century.
Other sights worth seeing in Ujjain are the Pir Mastyendranath, Bhartrihari Caves, Durgadas ki chhatri, Kal Bhairava, Gad Kalika, Vikram Kirti Mandir, Gopal Mandir, Navgraha Mandir (Triveni), Panchkroshi Yatra, Siddhavat, and the Vedha Shala (Observatory), A few kaliadeh Palace, an imposing 15th century structure built by the Malwa rulers.
Riverine island at the confluence of the Narmada and the Cauvery, Omkareshwar is renowned for its medieval Brahmanic temples
This tiny island consists of two hills and a valley, thought to resemble the Hindu symbol ‘Om’. The exquisitely carved Shri Omkar Mandhata (‘Bestower of Desires’) Temple on the island houses one of the twelve Jyotirlingas .
The Siddhanath Temple is a fine example of 10th century architecture. The 24 Avatars, a cluster of Jain Temples and the Satmatrika Temples are also worth visitng. The Kajal Rani Cave, 9km from Omkareshwar, is a scenic spot with spectacular views of the undulating landscape of the region.
Located on the bank of the Narmada river, Maheshwar was identified as ‘Mahishmati’, an important culture and political centre that finds mention in the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The town was restored to its pre-eminent position in the 18th century by the revered Holkar queen, the Ahileshwar Temple, built in 1798.
Founded by the Parmara King of Dhar, Raja Bhoja(1010-1053), and named after him, Bhojpur is renowned for its magnificent Shiva Temple and Cyclopean Dam. The 11th century Bhojeshwar Temple-often called the ‘Somnath’ of North India’-was never completed and the earthern ramp used to raise it to dome level still stands.
The massive patterns engraved on the surrounding rocks suggest that there was a grand architectural plan for the temple. It is generally agreed that,had it been completed,it would have had few rivals.
‘The Hill of many wonders’, Chitrakoot nestles amidst tranquil forest glades and mountain streams in the Vindhyas. Chitrakoot’s spiritual legacy dates back to the time of the Ramayana- Rama and Sita are said to have spent eleven of their fourteen years of exile here; this is where the great Sage Atri and Sati Anusuya meditated, and the holy trinity of the Hindu pantheon-Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh-were incarnated here.
See Ramghat, Kamadgiri, Janaki Kund, Sati Anusuya, Sphatik Shila, Hanuman Dhara and Bharat Koop. The Gupt Godavari Caves are also worth exploring.
The Satpura and the Vindhya ranges meet at Amarkantak, which is also the source of the Narmada and the sone rivers. The Narmada Udgam and the Sonmuda Temple, the source of the Narmada and the Sone respectively, are the holiest shrines.
As per Puranas, it is necessary to bathe once in the Ganga, thrice in the Saraswati and seven times in the Yamuna to attain salvation, but just the sight of the Narmada is enough to ensure eternal bliss.
The Narmada Udgam Temple contains a black basalt stones statue of the Goddess Narmada, worshipped by thousands.