Travel is all about relaxing, indulging in adventures, having fun, self-reflecting and sometimes, finding that elusive spiritual bliss. And Ujjain is where it all comes together. Located on the banks of River Shipra, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh is one of the holiest cities in India. It is particularly famous for being the home of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and is frequented by devotees of Lord Shiva year-round. The temple looks vibrant during Nagpanchmi and Mahashivratri when nearly 5 to 10 lakh pilgrims throng the city. Apart from this, Ujjain is one of the four places where the major Hindu pilgrimage and festival, Maha Kumbh Mela, is held every 12 years. However, the charm of the city is not limited to religious places. Ujjain is dotted with popular museums, parks, palaces and other attractions as well, making it an ideal holiday destination for people of all ages. Most of the Ujjain hotels arrange for guided tours of these attractions thus ensuring a convenient trip.
If you are planning to visit the city with your loved ones, the following list of the best things to do in Ujjain will come in handy.
1. Enjoy a boat ride from Ram Ghat
If you are looking for a peaceful way to spend your evenings in the city, taking a boat ride will be perfect. This holy ghat is situated on the banks of Shipra River and is a prominent spiritual spot in the country. The calm waters of the river are just right to rejuvenate your mind and soul and fill you with tranquillity.
The ghat looks mesmerising in the evening, with the setting sun as the backdrop. So, taking a boat ride during this time is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ujjain. You can also listen to the chants of evening aarti and explore many beautiful religious places around the ghat. Ram Ghat is also where the popular Maha Kumbh Mela is hosted once every 12 years.
- Boating Charges: INR 30 per person
- Time Required: 30 minutes to 1 hour
2. Participate in Shipra Aarti at Ram Ghat
If you are looking to experience deep spirituality, you must attend the enchanting Shipra aarti. This religious ritual is performed every evening at Ram Ghat, on the banks of Shipra River. The place looks colourful and divine, with devotees chanting mantras, temple bells ringing gloriously and numerous oil lamps floating on the calm waters of the river. The aarti is attended by thousands of tourists every day and attending it is a unique experience.
Ram Ghat is one of the most sacred ghats in the country and the aarti is done to honour the ancient Shipra River. Hence, whenever you plan a trip to Ujjain, you must take out some time and participate in the evening aarti.
- Location: Mahakal Marg, Jaisinghpura
- Time Required: 30-45 minutes
3. Take a holy dip in Shipra River
Devotees visiting Ram Ghat must also take a dip in the holy waters of Shipra River. It is believed that taking a dip here washes away all sins and purifies the soul. The riverfront is also popular for hosting the Maha Kumbh Mela. During the festival, lakhs of devotees gather to offer prayers and take a holy dip in the river water. The spiritual energy and excitement are almost palpable then. Hence, taking a dip in this holy river, especially during Kumbh Mela, is one of the unmissable things to do in Ujjain.
4. Experience the holiness of Gomti Kund
This must be a part of your itinerary or Ujjain things to do list. A place of great religious significance, Gomti Kund is located near the banks of Gomti River and frequented by Lord Krishna’s devotees from across the country. The kund is situated near Sandipani Ashram on the outskirts of the city. It is believed that this is the ashram where Guru Sandipani taught Lord Krishna. The place is perfect for those looking to spend some peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It is believed that Lord Krishna collected water from all the holy rivers around the world in Gomti Kund to help his Guru Sandipani perform certain rituals. Hence, the water in this small and steep pond is considered sacred. Although you cannot take a dip in the pond, you can touch the holy water or collect it in bottles.
- Location: Near Sandipani Ashram, Mangalnath Marg
- Timings: 7 AM to 8 PM
- Things to do: Spend some peaceful time near the Kund, offer prayers, visit Sandipani Ashram, admire the popular Nandi statue at Sandipani Ashram, pay your respects at the ancient Shiva Temple near Gomti Kund
5. Visit during Kumbh Mela, if possible
Kumbh Mela, one of the most popular Hindu festivals, is locally known as Ujjain Simhashta and attended by thousands of devotees and Sadhus from across the country. So, if your time of visit coincides with this huge carnival, you must attend the Maha Kumbh Mela.
Countless devotees gather at Ram Ghat on the banks of River Shipra to celebrate this amazing festival. Apart from offering prayers and performing different rituals, devotees take a dip in the holy river to wash away all sins. The event promises an enriching experience to those looking to immerse themselves in spirituality. Therefore, attending this unique and vibrant festival is one of the best things to do in Ujjain.
- Location: Ram Ghat, near Shipra River
6. Pay your respects at the temples
Ujjain is known as one of the most important religious centres in the country, thanks to the many Hindu temples it houses. Hence, the holy city is frequented by thousands of devotees and pilgrims looking to experience spirituality. Some prominent temples In Ujjain are Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple, Kal Bhairav Temple, Harsiddhi Mataji Temple, ISKCON Temple, Mangalnath Temple, Shri Chintaman Ganesh Temple, Dwarkadhish Gopal Mandir, Ram Janardhan Mandir, Char Dham Temple and Ram Ghat.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, is the main attraction in the city. This three-storied temple in the southern part of Ujjain is a must-visit.
The temples in Ujjain are steeped in history and divinity. They also boast brilliant Maratha, Chalukya and Bhumija styles of architecture and are a sight to behold! Hence, apart from devotees, Ujjain temples are quite popular among history buffs and architecture fanatics as well.
7. Admire the Persian architecture of Kaliadeh Palace
Showcasing brilliant Persian architecture, Kaliadeh Palace is one of the most popular historical monuments in the city. It was built by the Sultan of Mandu in 1458 A.D. and stands on a small island on Shipra River. The palace was quite popular during the Mughal era as well and was visited by the great emperors Akbar and Jehangir. The Persian inscriptions on the palace corridors testify to the visits of the Mughal emperors. Although Kaliadeh Palace suffered many damages in 1818 in a war between the Pindaris and Marathas, it was restored by Madhav Rao Scindia in 1920.
If you are a history buff or an architecture lover, you cannot miss visiting Kaliadeh Palace during your Ujjain trip. The sight of River Shipra flowing on both sides of the palace is stunning. What’s more, the lush green and beautiful surroundings make Kaliadeh Palace a popular attraction among nature lovers and peace seekers as well.
- Location: On the banks of Shipra River
- Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM
- Time Required: 1-2 hours
- Things to do: View the Sun Temple, enjoy a picnic in the garden area
8. Visit Vedhshala Observatory to learn about Ujjain’s history
Also known as Jantar Mantar, Vedhshala Observatory is one of the best places to visit in the city. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 17th century to help Hindu scholars and astrologers conduct research. The observatory was also used by scholars to study the movement and position of different celestial bodies. It houses many masonic instruments and yantras that are used till date to carry out research.
If you are curious to know about the different planets and Indian astrology, visiting this architectural marvel is one of the best things to do in Ujjain. You can check out the many instruments here and learn how they work too. Symbolising Ujjain’s strong astronomical background, Vedhshala Observatory is a must-visit.
- Location: Chintaman Road, Jaisinghpura
- Entry fees: Indians (over 15 years of age): INR 40 per head
- Foreigners: INR 200 per head
- Camera: INR 50
- Audio Guide: INR 150
- Timings: 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week
- Time Required: 1-2 hours
9. Take a tour of the museums
This is one of the best things to do in Ujjain for those interested in history and archaeology. The city houses many prominent museums, such as Dr V.S. Wakankar Museum, Vikram Kirti Mandir Museum, Ujjain Planetarium, Triveni Museum, Jain Museum and Jain Sangrahalay. While Dr V.S. Wakankar Museum showcases a wonderful collection of rock art paintings, ancient relics and other artefacts, Vikram Kirti Mandir Museum is known for housing ancient manuscripts, copper plates, coins and fossils found in Narmada Valley.
Triveni Archaeological Museum is a popular attraction among archaeology buffs. It has an art gallery displaying coins, sculptures, miniature paintings and other materials related to archaeology. If you are interested in astronomy, Ujjain Planetarium is a must-visit. Besides providing hands-on training to students, the Planetarium conducts astronomical observation and research. You can also attend different shows and programmes here. The other museums in Ujjain have a lot to offer as well. So, exploring at least a few must be in your itinerary.
10. Try delectable street food
Ujjain is a haven for foodies, as you will find many pushcarts selling different kinds of foods around the city. The street food here is a delectable fusion of Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Rajasthani delicacies. From pani puri, bhel puri, kachori and samosa to masala bhutta, vada pav, poha and dabeli, you will find almost everything your taste buds crave. The ice gola coated with rabri is a must-try here. If you are visiting the city with your spouse, going around the streets and trying different foods is one of the best things to do in Ujjain for couples.
- Must-try: Bhang thandai at Shri Mahakaleshwar Bhang Ghota
So, these are some of the best things to do in Ujjain when you are planning a trip with your family, partner, or friends. Besides being peppered with many ancient temples and ghats, the city has other attractions that draw tourists from far and wide. Although visiting different religious sites is one of the most popular things to do in Ujjain, you must explore the museums, palaces and relish the street food as well. And, if possible, plan a trip to the city during Nagpanchmi, Mahashivratri or Maha Kumbh Mela for the greatest spiritual experience ever.