Mahakaleshwar Mandir

Top choice in Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh

While this is not visually the most stunning temple, tagging along behind a conga-line through the underground chambers can be magical. At nonfestival times, the marble walkways are a peaceful preamble to the subterranean chamber containing one of India’s 12 jyoti linga – naturally occurring, especially sacred Shiva linga believed to derive currents of shakti (creative energies perceived as female deities) from within themselves rather than being ritually invested with mantra-shakti by priests. During festivals it can be oppressively busy.

The temple was destroyed by the Delhi sultan Iltutmish in 1235 and restored by the Scindias in the 19th century. Foreign visitors will generally be encouraged to pay ₹250 for a 'VIP' entry ticket. There's no obligation to buy one of these but it does allow you to skip any entry queues.

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