Located on the south-east bank of Fatehsagar lake, Mahakaleshwar Mandir is one of the oldest and highly revered temples of Udaipur.
It is said that it was built even before the city of Udaipur came into existence and that Eklingnath Mandir, Kailashpuri and this temple are equally old. The Mandir was the property of Lord Shiv and the Navgrahas were worshipped here.
Historians tell us that there is evidence that this nine hundred years old temple belongs to the reign of Parmar dynasty. As it is located at the same latitude and longitude as that of Ujjain, Kaal Ganana was done from here. Annual Panchang, calendar, was prepared here as all the planets were clearly visible from here.
To explore the history of the Mandir, The Mandir Trust invited scholars of Lambudari Sampradaya, who belonged to South India and were experts of Vastu Jyotish. They studied the temple area and concluded that the region had been a Shivdham Siddhapeeth. It became a holy place as different kinds of Yogis, saints and devotees had done tapasya here. The relics of Math, Dharamshala and Baoris can be seen here.
It is said that a saint named Bholanath used to worship in the cave shaped temple. The Gurus of Maharana Fatehsingh also visited the place. Elderly persons of Udaipur still remember saints lika Bholanath, Ogdi Mai and Laharnath. It is said that there was difference of opinion about certain issues between Bholanath and his disciple Laharnath. The latter felt that a Guru should use his ‘siddhis’ not to show his miraculous power but only for benefit of the society. And due to this, Laharnath left the Ashram without informing his Guru. This made the Guru very unhappy as he wanted to transfer all his spiritual power to his disciple before he left the world. It is said that Bholanath took Jeevit Samadhi and before doing so he told his other disciples that Laharnath was his favourite disciple and he would have passed on all that he had earned as a saint to Laharnath. When Laharnath returned to the Ashram after some years, he learnt all this and repented for his unwise action.
Oghri Mai who belonged to Udaipur and worshipped Devi was also a disciple of Bholanath. She was also a ‘Siddha’ saint and took Jeevit Samadhi. Her ‘Samadhi’ is there in the Mandir.
Laharnath was also a ‘Siddha’. He did not believe in begging alms and earned his living by painting. He felt that he was living in a Siddhapeeth, an abode of Lord Shiv. So he would always work for the good of others.
It is said that the Shivling in the Mandir is Swyambhu that is it appeared on its own. So the devotees get their wishes fulfilled quickly and those who do ‘tapasya’ here get multifold blessings.
The original form of the temple was quite different. To reach the Garbhgrih, the devotees had to pass through a narrow cave. The Garbhgrih was four feet long and four feet wide and was reached by two feet wide stairs.
The work of renovation and expansion of the Mandir was started in August 1998. In place of the old temple, the work of a new one covering an area of about 3600 sq. ft. with a Shikhar has already been completed.
A big Shree Laxyachandi Yagna was performed. The idols of Parvati, Ganesh and Bhairav-Bhairavi were set up. One enters the courtyard after climbing up seven stairs and is welcomed by white stone elephants on either side. The Sabhamandap is supported by eighteen pillars. In this two-story temple, one goes down eighteen steps to reach the lower Sabhamandap that has sixteen pillars. The gate of Garbhgrih is very big. It has Swambhu Shivlinga and idols of dancing Ganesh, Shiv and Kartikeya. In the temple premises there are also Hanuman temple, Kal Bhairav and Dhuni of Oghrimai.
The Mandir Trust has big expansion plans that include Pushpavatika, Navgrah Sthapna, Sant Mumuksha Aawas, Yagnashala, huge lecture hall, twelve Jyotirlingas, carvings of Shivleela, Astakmal Jhanki, huge idol of Bhagwan Pamanabham Vishnu resting on Sheshnag Shaiya and a big library.
Several festivals are celebrated in the Mandir all through the year. Mahashivratri is the biggest one of them. The premises are spruced up and decorated with lights and buntings. In the morning worship is performed with sandal paste, flowers and Bilwapatra and ‘aarti’ is waved. Maha-aarti is performed all through the four Pahars. Bhairav Prathishtha ceremony is also performed. Ratri Jagran is an important programme.
The sanctity and the natural environs of the Mandir attract a huge number of devotees as well as visitors from outside.