Lord Shiva's 12 Jyothirlingas Mahakaleshwar Ujjain
Mahakaleshwara Temple is located by the banks of river Kshipra, in the dense Mahakal forests in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. It is an important Shaivaite pilgrimage centre in North India and is revered as one of the 12 Jyotilinga manifestations of Shiva. It is a three-storey temple, on the side of the lake called Rudra Sagar.
The main deity, shiva in the lingam form is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the South. This is a unique feature, upheld by tantric tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. The temple has five levels one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhara or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines. Legend behind the temple
According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its devotional epic-center. This was also one of the primary cities were students went to study holy scriptures. As the story goes, the ruler of Ujjain was called Vrishabhsen. He was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshipped him all the time, thereby, giving himself to his devotion. One day, a farm boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord's name and rushed to his temple and started to pray with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him on the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Seeing the child pray and listening on to his pitiful story, the Kings of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a nearby priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgence of his sons, they started to pray to Lord Shiva inside the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful. Also, with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva. Upon hearing their pleas, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakal form and destroyed the enemies of King Vrishabhsen. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief Deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and harbor all devotees of Lord Shiva. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in his light form as Mahakal in a Linga that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and his consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.