Ujjain is a city in the state of Madhya Pradhesh. City of Ujjain (one who conquers with pride) was once ruled by the legendary king Vikramaditya.
King Vikramaditya was known for his valor and impeccable justice. His court was adorned by nine famous courtiers called Navaratna (nine gems), who were great scholars in different fields of knowledge. ( Kalidasa became the most brilliant of the `nine gems' at the court of Vikramaditya of Ujjain.) Despite extensive effort, Vikramaditya can not be identified with any known historical king. Ujjain is famous for the temple of Mahakala. There is no temple in India, where Mahakala is worshipped.
Is there a meaning behind the legend of Vikramaditya and the worship of Mahakala? The real meaning is revealed by considering the meaning of these words. Vikramaditya is made by joining prefix "Vi" to words "Krama" and "Aditya". "Krama" means order, "Aditya" means sun and prefix "Vi" means deviation. Therefore, etymologically Vikramaditya means the change in the course of the sun. What is significant is Ujjain is located on the tropic of cancer. Thus, sun comes to Ujjain during its northward journey, changes its course, and starts its southward journey. Vikramaditya is sun itself changing its journey at Ujjain. Nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya are nine planets of Solar system.
Mahakala is made by joining words, Maha, great, and Kala, time. Thus, Mahakala means Time the great. Ujjain was known as Ujjayini in ancient times and was the capital of ancient empire Avanti. Ujjayini was the center of Indian civilization for several centuries and famous for its astronomical observatory. Ujjayini was equivalent of Greenwich, from where time was synchronized all over India and even abroad. New day commenced when it was six a.m. in Ujjayini. When it is six in the morning in Ujjain, it is midnight in Britain. It is from this ancient system of changing date in the morning in Ujjain that changing date at midnight has been arrived at.
As time was synchronized in a large part of the world according to Ujjayini standard time, it was only natural to designate the god of Ujjain as god time himself, and therefore the name Mahakala, Time the great.