A seat of learning where all disciplines of knowledge flourished since time immemorial, Ujjain is going to host one of the largest religious congregation in the world?the Simhastha or the Kumbha Mela. The month-long Mela will be held from April 5, 2004.
Simhastha, the great bathing festival of Ujjain, is celebrated in a cycle of 12 years when Jupiter enters the Leo sign of the zodiac, known as Simha Rashi. Tradition calls for 10 different factors to be located for the grand festival at Ujjain. According to the Puranas, the legendary churning of the ocean by the gods (devas) and demons (danavas) yielded, amongst other things, a jar (kumbha) full of nectar (amrita).
Gods did not like to share it with demons. At the instance of Indra, the master of gods, his son Jayanta tried to run away with the jar and was naturally followed by some of the demons. During the struggle for its possession lasting over twelve days in the heaven, a few drops of the nectar dropped at the four places on earth?Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik. The drops of nectar were well received by the holy rivers at these places.
It is to commemorate the sprinkling of nectar into the sacred waters of Shipra that the Simhastha festival is celebrated at Ujjain. Festivals at the other three places are known by the more popular name Kumbha. The cycle of twelve years is common to all the four places. As the struggle for the possession of the nectar-jar (amrita-kumbha) lasted for twelve days in the heaven, the corresponding period turned out to be twelve years on earth, for the human beings.
Once ruled by the legendary Emperor Vikramaditya and hallowed by sacred memories of rigorous penance practised by Bhritihari, Ujjain is expected to be thronged by over three million devotees, pilgrims and tourists both from every corner of India and from abroad. Also the month-long Mela will be attended by close to one million sadhus, saints, seers and other spiritual seekers.
Dotted with temples and archaeological sites, Ujjain is described in the Adi Purana as the most sacred city. Known as Avanti, Kushthali, Kanashringa, Bhaumivati, Padmavati, Pratikalpa, Amravati, Vishala, Avantika and Ujjayani in the past, Ujjain is also known as the city of Bhagwan Mahakaleshwar. The Mahakaleshwar temple and the holy Shipra have always attracted countless people to visit Ujjain throughout the ages. The crowd of pilgrims and saints of various sects running into millions during the Simhastha presents a picture of mini India at Ujjain and one can well visualise at the Mela, as to what invisible forces bind this great nation together.
Eulogised by great poets like Ved Vyasa and Kalidasa, Ujjain is also known for encouraging astronomical studies in the past. Since situated on the Tropic of Cancer, the meridian line of Ujjain became prime meridian of India. The city was an important centre of astronomy in the Gupta period. Emperor Vikramaditya started the Vikram Samvatsar from Ujjain. The well-known astronomer Varahamihir had worked in this city. And Sawai Maharaja of Jaipur constructed the famous observatory in Ujjain in the 18th century. Unsurprisingly, the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen once said: ?There is something very striking about the consistency of Ujjain’sdominance in Indian time accounting.?
With so many special significances attached to the city, the Simhastha at Ujjain assumes more importance as a rare configuration of planets takes place in 12 years. And this Simhastha or Kumbh Mela is more special as for the first time there would be three shahi snans (royal baths) during the month-long Mela. In addition to this, there would be two parva snans.
The ceremonial bathing in the holy waters of the Shipra begin with the full-moon day of Chaitra and continues at different intervals throughout the successive month of Vaishakha, culminating on the full moon day. During the Simhastha, a holy dip in the Shipra, one of the most sacred rivers in the country, is believed to be a dip into eternity, which absolves the devotees of all past sins. In this regard, the Skanda Purana mentions: ?The holy bath of Kumbha equals in punya to thousands of Kartik snanas, hundreds of Magh snans and crores of Narmada snans during Vaishakha month. The fruits of Kumbha snan are equal to the fruits of thousands of Ashvamedha yajnas, hundreds of Vajpaiyea yajnas and lakhs of journeys around the earth.?
Therefore, keeping in view the importance of a holy bath in the Shipra during the Simhastha, the government of Madhya Pradesh is shooting its bolts in order to make proper arrangements so as to ensure that the devotees take holy dips in the Shipra. To make snans a smooth passage, eleven stop dams have been constructed for storing water, which will be released before each snan in the Shipra. The ghats have also been renovated and widened for the convenience of devotees.
To make the Mela a successful event, the state government has strained every nerve. Elaborate arrangements have been made to make the stay and visit of such a large number of devotees, sadhus, saints and tourists a comfortable one. For comfortable stay of the pilgrims, the Mela area spread over 2,152 hectares has been divided into four zones and 10 sectors where different akharas (groups of sadhus and saints) and devotees would stay. To ensure uninterrupted water supply, 74-km-long pipelines have been installed. To illuminate the Mela township, four power stations have been set up. Also new ghats have been constructed and old ones renovated on the banks of the Shipra. To facilitate easy movement of pilgrims, a signage system has been scientifically designed. Also for the first time in the Mela, pucca toilets have been constructed. What is more, to meet any untoward incident, six 10-bed, six five-bed hospitals and eight dispensaries are being set up to provide medical help to the pilgrims. Also the seven historical tanks?Sapta Sagar?in Ujjain are being renovated to restore their pristine glory. The government has made provision for renovation of historical temples in the city. That’swhy work is in progress for development of the area around Bhagwan Mahakaleshwar temple.
While the government of Madhya Pradesh is committed to make pilgrims? stay as comfortable as possible during the month-long religious saga, the local people and voluntary organisations are also extending full cooperation in making the arrangements. So if you have an urge to be one with the Ultimate Consciousness (Param Chetana), then do visit Ujjain to be part of the festivities and devotion?where a charged ambience permeates with the Supreme Consciousness.
How to reach Ujjain
Situated on the western boundary of Madhya Pradesh, Ujjain is 55 km from Indore.
Air: The nearest airport is at Indore. It is connected by air to Bhopal, Mumbai, Delhi and Gwalior.
Rail: Ujjain is an important railway station on western railway network and connected with most of the major cities in India.
Road: Ujjain is within easy driving distance from Bhopal (183 km), Indore (55 km) and Mandu (158 km).
April 05, 2004 (Shahi Snan)
April 19, 2004 (Parva Snan)
April 22, 2004 (Shahi Snan)
April 24, 2004 (Parva Snan)
May 05, 2004 (Shahi Snan)