The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is known as Dakshinamurti, i.e. the idol faces south. This unique feature, upheld by trantic tradition can be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is sanctified in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Kartikeya are installed in the west, north and eastern side of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the 3rd floor is open only for 'darshan' on the day of Nagpanchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground.
The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, Ujjain itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by mammoth walls near a lake. The shikhara or the spire is decked with modelled finery. Brass lamps light up the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that 'prasada' (holy offering) offered here to the deity could be re-offered unlike all other temples in India. One of the uncanny rituals performed here is the 'Bhasm Arti' that involves smearing the lingam with lots of simmering ashes from the burning ghats (cremation ground). In Hindu mythology, Shiva is believed to dwell in cremation grounds, and the ash-smearing ceremony is just a way of paying homage to the divine itself.
The presiding deity, Shiva, stands here in all His splendour and glory. The shikhara, or apex point of the Mahakaal Temple soars high up in the skies, a commanding facade against the skyline, evoking primeval awe and reverence. On Mahashivratri, an enormous fair is held near the temple premises, worship going on through the night.