One of our pilgrimage trip stops was at Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. We landed at Devi Ahilyabai Holkar airport. There we were met by our driver who then drove directly to Ujjain.
The roads in Indore were like any other in India during monsoon; muddy and full of potholes. Additionally, the Shipra river had overflowed and most parts of Ujjain were under water. We were thus pleasantly surprised when the roads became great as we proceeded to Mahakaleshwar. Story goes that Ambani wanted to come to Mahakaleshwar and given that the roads were so bad; he ended up constructing the road so that he could have a smoother ride!
We heard a lot more stories on our way there. Another story says that no CM or heads of any institution every stay overnight in Mahakaleshwar and if they do stay; they will not survive the night. It seems that Mahalakeswar accepts only one head, and that is He Himself.
We reached Ujjain at around 11am. Our hotel was right next to the temple. We checked in, had some food and slept for 1 hour before waking up, having ice cold shower and heading out to watch Bhasma Aarthi. Women have to wear saree to visit the temple so I wore my red engagement crystal one.
Bhasma Aarti literally mean ‘cremation aarti’. Its an aarti of human ash out of the cematorium. Mahakaleshwar temple is the only temple which has Bhasma Aarti. The aarti is held everyday starting at 4 am and we were told to go and queue up by 2 am.
We entered the queue at 2 and waited in the line. Time passed quickly; there were some singing, some were chatting, others sleeping. People watching became my favourite passtime in this trip due to the number of hours we had to wait in queues.
We were then allowed into the sanctum sanctorium where we touched the Linga to our heart’s content. i still felt odd as in South, we are never allowed into the sanctum santorium, regardless of gender whereas in the north everyone goes in and touches Him to their heart’s content (or the crowds content). We were then directed to a huge hall where we managed to get a good seat.
The Bhasma Aarti starts off by the sastri decorating the Linga. It was the most beautiful decoration I have ever seen on a Linga. He looks ferocious, as is befitting of his Mahakaleshwar avatar. The Linga is then stripped and an Agori steps in and pours the Bhasma on Him. Before they did that, they asked women to close their eyes. The justifications are myriad; some say its coz the Linga is naked and modesty needs to be preserved while others say its coz women do not enter the cremation grounds. Needless to say, this went unheeded by me.
The aarti went on for around 20-30 mins and was a sight to behold. After the aarti, we went to the Shakthi temple followed by one of the best aloo parantha’s I have tasted 🙂 Then it was time for our next stop; Dwaraka.