The Mahakaleshwar Temple and the Grand Corridor, Ujjain

Mahakal Temple complex from the back side.

There are a few moments in life that you treasure. You recall those times as the happiest of your life. My father used to tell me stories about the ‘Samudra manthan’ (the churning of the ocean by devas and asuras that brought out the primary elements of life on Earth), how Shiva consumed the poison to save the universe and became Neelkantha, the eternal love story of Parvati and Shiva, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and so on. I was never a toy-cartoon kid; instead, I enjoyed reading newspapers and books and listening to my parents’ and grandparents’ stories. This time, the Ujjain Mahakal temple corridor brought back childhood memories for me. 

Meticulously sculpted statues and wall paintings depicting the stories of Shiva and other Gods, a preciously designed compound, and massive gates resembled everything I had imagined. And I was so overjoyed that I began jumping around like a child. It was special.

Months after the chaos in Tirsa Capital, I sat down to write again. Deep down I know, that Lord Mritunjay Mahakal of Ujjain inspired me to compose this. I recently had the privilege of seeing Lord Mahakal of Ujjain, one of India’s most powerful jyotirlingas. This is my second time to Ujjain. I visited there last year. Massive construction projects were underway all around. The entire city struck me as chaotic and dirty. I was unable to connect to the power. Plus, this time I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend such a potent jyotirlinga. So I was hesitant to go again. My friend Anirudh and his family persuaded me to go to Ujjain, especially since my parents were in town. After a lot of thinking, we decided a weekday to avoid the traffic. 

We took Anirudh’s car and started after lunch to beat the office traffic of Indore. This city deserves special recognition in this story. I fall in love with this city all over again every time I return. Everybody should go to Indore at least once in their lives. Indore is unmatched in terms of road quality, and cleanliness, and Indories are in friendliness. I didn’t even bring up poha-jalebi or food. The roads were fantastic after you got past the city limits.

Coming back from Bangalore and Mumbai, driving on such roads is like a dream for me now. We arrived in Ujjain without a hitch. Parking is usually an issue in such historic cities. We drove through the small roads, asking for directions from residents. I can promise you that Google Maps fails miserably in these types of situations. It’s best to ask a local. After some time, we arrived at the parking lot. Around that area, construction is still ongoing. My folks were experiencing extreme heat. I, on the other hand, was OK. I was aware of how hot and dry this place can be.

A brief history of Ujjain and the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga shrine. Ujjain is an ancient temple city in India. It is thought to be as old and significant as Banaras. The Mahabharata mentions the city. In the fourth century BCE, Emperor Asoka ruled over the city. From being a temple city, the pinnacle of architecture, literacy, and culture, to being invaded, destroyed, and looted by Afghan and Mughal rulers from Delhi, Ujjain remained firm as a symbol of resistance and belief. It has been the headquarters of Maratha Leader Scindia since the 18th century.

The lingam at the Mahakal is considered to be swayambhu (born of itself), receiving currents of force (shakti) from within itself. Dakshina Murty, Mahakaleshwar’s idol, is reputed to face south. This is a special characteristic that only exists in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas, according to tantric beliefs. In the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine, the Omkareshwar Shiva idol is dedicated. Only on the day of Nagpanchmi is the idol of Nagchandreshwar in the third story available for viewing.

After our darshan, we moved toward the renowned corridor, which is just outside the temple grounds. Our honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji opened the first phase. And it is enormous. This passageway is so huge that not even the word gigantic fits it. This path is about a kilometer long and features wall paintings, over 200 sculptures, and adorned pillars. We are told a story by each block. Each tale transports me back to my creative self. Perfect detail-orientedness is displayed.

We moved through these tales till we came to a spot where the illustrious Saptarishis were seated around the representation of Sanatan dharma, seemingly protecting and tending to it. Our Vedas, the first religious text in our culture, are credited to the Saptarishis as their creators. Each of them is said to be a distant star watching over us. You can sit in the dhyana area and practice meditation there. We then proceeded to the Tripurari Shiva statue.

This is how the tale unfolds. After Lord Kartikeye killed Tarakasur, his sons began doing penance with the intention of getting back at him. They received the desired gift from Lord Brahma, which made it nearly impossible to harm them. Shiva built a chariot to stop them. The sun and moon became the wheels, mountain Meru as the bow, Vasuki as the string, Shri Vishnu (the protector of the universe), Agnidev (the god of fire), Vayudev (the god of wind), and Yumdev (the god of death) as his arrows. The battle took place in Ujjain, and the chariot was drawn by Lord Brahma (the creator) himself. In Ujjain, Mahadev Shiva slew the demon, earning the name Tripurari.

After dusk, this location became much more beautiful. The place took on a new depth as a result of the lighting. The background Om chanting takes your experience to a whole new level of rapture. It is made more serene by the sizable lake and the cool breeze.

We were unable to visit many other notable temples in the area of Ujjain at this time. What Ujjain has to offer cannot be imagined from the outside. Ujjain is the place to go if you want to explore Indian history and culture or seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The MP government needs to encourage tourism immediately.

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