Ujjain was the only holy destination in our whole MP trip. After a heavy breakfast in Indore, we headed towards Ujjain at 8:30 PM. We covered 56 KMS in about one and half hours.
When we entered Ujjain it looked like there was a fair taking place. There were people everywhere. Looking at the crowd I was sure the queue for Darashan at Mahakaleshwar temple would be long. The thought of it was not appealing.
We started the day at Ujjain by booking our train tickets to Bhopal. Having seen the crowd when we enetered we didn't want to take any chances. We finished doing this pretty quickly and moved on.
From experience we knew that the MPSTC would have information about guides. So our next step was to look for MPSTC office. Only in Ujjain this turned out to be a bad idea. The people at MPSTC didn’t help much. So we decided to follow Rough Guide (a book like Lonely Planet) and see places on our own.
One temple that was a must on our list was the Kal Bhairav temple. The offering made here include alcohol along with the usual coconut, flowers and incense sticks. There was crowd at this place too. We were later told that it was new moon day and that since it was on a Saturday it was a special day for Shiva.
According to Akshata this was scariest of all idols she had seen so far. The stone idol had 2 sockets that looked like eyes and a crescent shaped mouth. Half bottle of the liquor offering is poured through this opening and the rest is given back to the devotee. The locals say the liquor that’s poured into the idol doesn’t flow out and just disappears. We never investigated that bit of information. Close by there was a cave that one had to crawl into to get darshan of another idol, but looking at the crowd we decided to give that a skip.
From Kal Bhairav our next destination was a village called Bhairavghad. We had read that 'Batik', a cloth dying art, originated here. It was very close to the Kal Bhairav temple so we didn’t have to travel too much. We went to Anwar Bhai's factory, the most popular according to the people. As we drove through the village we realised that almost all houses had ‘Batik’ cloth hung for drying. At Anwar Bhai's factory we were shown the process used for Batik design making. Luckily or unluckily for us he had some stock that was ready for sale and he volunteered to courier our purchases to Bangalore. We spent the next one hour shopping.
Our next stop was Sandheepini Ashram, this is supposed to be the place where Krishna, Balaram and Sudhama (Hindu Gods and their friend) received their education. There is a Shiva temple at this place and one can find Nandi in a standing position. This is not found anywhere else. We hardly spent about 15 mins here.
By the time we had completed all this it was time for lunch. Rough Guide suggested a place called New Raj Kumar .We went all around Ujjain looking for this place. People were so helpful that even though they didn’t know where we had to go they would guide us. Finally after about an hour we found the place. We were disappointed to find out that this place did not serve local dishes but only punjabi food. Since we were hungry we decided to eat here. The food was good. We had Makki ki Roti and Sarso ka Saag (Corn Bread and Mustard Gravy). Akshata and Sharan drank lassi (Beaten Yogurt) and I gave that a skip.
Post lunch I was keen to visit Mahakaleshwara Temple. This is one of the twelve Jyothirlings and is considered special because it is a Swayambhu (risen from the ground) ling. Another speciality is that it is south facing. Hence a lot of Tantriks (wizards) visit this place for worshipping.
Akshata and Me went looking for a special darshan ticket so that I could skip the queue and finish the visit fast. With the ticket I was able to come out in 30 mins. Though the temple is a really old one, it has been modernised and no longer had the charm of the ancient times.
From here we went to Ved Shala (Observatory). This place was built by Jai Singh. It is a very interesting place to visit and one can learn about calculations of time, occurances of eclipses, degree of the Sun etc. Since it was after 4 by the time we got here some of the instruments could not be used. We had an interesting guide by name Jagadish. He was an employee there and was passionate about sharing his knowledge of the place and astronomy. Since we showed some interest he spent lot of time with us.
From here we went to Chintamani Ganesh temple. This again is considered to be the biggest Swayambhu Ganesh idol. There was a huge crowd here as well. Sharan and Akshata decided to wait outside while I went in and came back. I managed to get out in 15 mins.
By now we had enough of temples and sight seeing. So we decided to go to Shipra (MPSTC Hotel) for some snacks. We relaxed for about 2 hours before boarding the train to Bhopal. This marked the end of our Western MP trip.