In the rich tapestry of Hinduism, a centuries-old tradition exists of worshipping Nagas, or serpents, as divine beings. These serpents are considered sacred creatures and adornments of the gods themselves. India is home to numerous temples dedicated to these serpentine deities, and one such temple is Nagchandreshwar mandir in Ujjain, which is perched atop the third floor of the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple.
This temple is only open for darshan (sacred viewing) on a single day of the year, Nag Panchami, which falls on the fifth day of the bright half of the Shravan month. The belief is that the Nagas, particularly Nagaraja Takshak, reside within the temple.
The Nagchandreshwar Temple houses a remarkable idol dating back to the 11th century. This idol portrays Lord Shiva and Parvati seated on a grand serpent with expanded hoods. It is believed that this idol was brought from Nepal to Ujjain. Notably, there is no other temple in the world that exhibits such a unique depiction.
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Legend of Nagaraja Takshak
According to legend, Nagaraja Takshak engaged in rigorous penance to appease Lord Shiva. His dedication pleased Lord Shiva, who granted him the boon of immortality. Since then, Nagaraja Takshak has chosen to reside in the presence of the divine. However, to maintain his seclusion, the temple only opens on Nag Panchami. It’s a tradition that has been upheld for centuries, and as a result, devotees queue up outside the temple for a rare glimpse of the divine on this auspicious day.
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Historical Significance of Nagchandreshwar mandir
The Nagchandreshwar mandir has an ancient history. It is believed to have been constructed by the Paramara king Bhoja in approximately 1050 CE. Later, in 1732, Maharaja Ranoji Scindia of the Scindia dynasty undertook the renovation of the Mahakaleshwar Temple, which also underwent restoration during that time. The wish of every devotee is to witness Lord Shiva seated atop Nagaraja Takshak, and on Nag Panchami, their prayers are answered. More than two lakh (two hundred thousand) devotees visit the Nagchandreshwar mandir temple on this single day.
Devotees visiting Nagchandreshwar Temple for the darshan of Baba Mahakal and Lord Nagchandreshwar have specific entry arrangements. Queues are organized differently, and devotees have a chance to fulfill their wish of seeing the divine serpentine deity. On the night of Nag Panchami, the temple doors open, and devotees’ desires are fulfilled.
Rules and committees of Pooja
The tradition of Nag Panchami dates back to the times of royalty, and it continues to be celebrated with both government and committee pujas. At noon, a collector performs a special puja as part of the official government tradition. Later, at 8 p.m., the Shri Mahakaleshwar Prabandh Samiti conducts a puja.
The Nagchandreshwar mandir in Ujjain stands as a testament to the deep-rooted traditions and beliefs of Hinduism. Devotees eagerly await Nag Panchami, the one day in the year when the divine serpentine deities reveal themselves to the faithful. This unique temple and its traditions showcase the unwavering devotion and cultural richness of the Indian people.
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