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Our annual pilgrimage [ Ujjain/Indore: 23-26 February 2017 ]

February 27, 2017

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The majestic Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain,  one of the 12 reverred Jyotirlingas.

23 February

Arrived at Indore Airport , transferred to Ujjain, 1.15 hours drive  [ 60 kms ] . Ujjain is an important place of pilgrimage for Shaivaites and  Vaishnavites and was also the venue for Ujjain Simhastha , a Hindu religious mela held every 12 years in Ujjain . Ujjain has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a Smart City under PM Narendra Modi’s  flagship Smart City Mission .

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Shani Navgrah temple , on the Indore-Ujjain highway on river Triveni . Navagraha temples are temples devoted to Navagrahas – the nine  major celestial bodies  of Hindu astronomy.

Checked in at Atharva Hotel , Mahakal Harsiddhi Bypass road . We faced problems due to non functioning of TV and Wifi which were rectified after chasing with the Hotel Manager , Mr Piyush Kamlakar  , but not before 2 rooms had to be changed , in quick succession before settling finally in the 3rd .

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are supposed to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva . It was a grand spiritual experience walking down considerably on a ramp to get a Darshan of the deity at the famed temple. More so because of the fact that it was Maha Shivaratri day when we were there, with devotees thronging in large numbers amidst high security and all approach roads barred to traffic.

Every day at 4 AM the face of the diety is smeared with ash from the mortal remains of a dead body , the process known as  Bhasma Arti which continues until 6 AM .

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Bade Ganeshji ka temple  is within walking distance from Mahakaal temple , as we proceed uphill to the parking lot .Built in the year 1875, during the reign of Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar, Bada Ganapati is famous for housing the largest Ganapati statue in the world. From crown to foot ,the deity measures almost  eight meters in length.

Reached Ma Harsiddhi temple in time for witnessing the mind blowing evening Arti with oil poured on cups fixed on tall towers made of black stone . Harsidhhi  – The Happy Mother, is considered one of the forms of Hindu Goddesses Amba and Kalika.   This temple is located very close to Mahakaal .

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Ended a long day with a short  visit to Ram Ghat on the banks of Shipra river .

24 February

Gadkalika temple , close to the banks of river Shipra .The deity in this temple is believed to have been worshipped by the famous poet Kalidasa. The legend goes that he was an idiot and it is by his devotion to the goddess Kalika that he acquired great literary skills.

Kal Bhairav temple is dedicated to Kal Bhairav , the guardian diety of the city. Located on the banks of the Shipra river , it is one of the most active temples in the city, visited by hundreds of devotees daily. A visit to the temple is a spell binding experience. Liquor is offered to the deity in  small bottles costing Rs 20-Rs 100 . Our visit to the temple on Maha Shivaratri day made it all the more special .

Our stay in  Ujjain was wrapped with a visit to Mangalnath Temple . Mangalnath Temple is one of the highly admired shrines situated in Ujjain. According to Matsya Purana, Mangalnath is considered to be the delivery place of Mars. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva. It  is situated in center of the world and reportedly the famous karka line passes away from here.

Sadapani Ashram : It is said that Lord Krishna alongwith his brother Balaram and friend Sudama were taught at the Maharshi Sadipani Ashram  by Maharshi Sadipani several centuries ago .

Checked out from Atharva Hotel and  proceeded to  Maheshwar, a 3 hours’ drive from Ujjain.

                                                                   MAHESHWAR

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Maheshwar is a small sleepy town ,inhabited by no more than 2o,000 persons . It is known for its majestic fort on the banks of River Narmada from which Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar ruled for 28 years during the later years of 18th century . The exquisite handwoven cotton+ silk Maheshwari sarees are famous all over the country .

Hotel Devraj Palace on Mandleshwar Road, a small but comfortable property at a very affordable price .

The magnificent Ahilya Fort along the banks of Narmada river . A statue of Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar adorns the entrance to the fort . A part of the Ahilya Fort has now been converted into a heritage hotel, founded by Maharajkumar Shrimant Shivaji Rao Holkar, a descendant of  Ahilya Bai Holkar and the only son of M.Gen. H.H. Maharaj Shrimant  Yeshwant Rao II Holkar of Indore .

The illuminated Shri Raj Rajeshwar Sahashtrabahu Temple inside the Fort , close to the exit , takes your breath away in sheer amazement

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Doing what ladies like  doing best .Shopping for exquisite handwoven Maheshwari sarees

25 February

MAMLESHWAR  – OMKARESHWAR

Check out and proceeded to Mamleshwar – Omkareshwar , 1 hour drive from Maheshwar. Visited the Jyotirlings in Mamleshwar -Omkareshwar immediately after  the day of Maha Shivaratri .

After covering Mamleshwar [ Lands end ] , we crossed over to Omkareshwar Jyotirling via a short  boat ride . Omkareshwar is dedicated to God Shiva. It is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of  Lord Shiva . It is situated  on an island called Mandhata in the Narmada  river; the shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu symbol.

Approaching Omkareshwar Temple after climbing up several steps from the river bank .

bhuttaProceeded to Indore ,  80 kms away , a drive of 2.5 hours . Stopped over on  the way to relish corn on the cob  [ spicy bhuttas ] .

INDORE

The financial and commercial hub of the State of Madhya Pradesh, it is very well connected to the rest of the country via planes, trains and buses .

Prior to checking  in at our Hotel in Indore, we stopped to spend sometime at Khajrana Ganesh temple set up over a sprawling complex , very clean, very nice . There are dozens of shops lined up on  either side of the footpath leading to the temple selling delicious motichoor and besan laddoos .

At the Treebo Daksh Residency Hotel , Vijay Nagar , the check in procedures were very swift and smooth . This is a  very well maintained property with nicely appointed rooms provided with all required amenities incl: tea/coffee maker and private safe boxes . Very efficient and attentive staff who ensured that our short stay at the property was comfortable and enjoyable . Complimented the Hotel MD, V Patni and the General Manager Manish Yadav  [ in picture ] for detailed attention to  immaculate furnishing and and maintenance of the property which looks very new and fresh .

56 Dukan is a nice place to hang out for spicy snacks, kulfis and delicate                               sweets.Very popular with youngsters .

A visit to Kaanch Ka Temple is a must . Literally Temple of Glass, it is a famous Jain temple in Indore  built by Sir Seth Hukumchand  Jain. Its construction began sometime around 1903.

Sarafa Bazar [ Jewellers’ Market ] is a veritable foodies’ delight . At 9 PM , the Bazar comes alive with dozens of food stalls coming up after the jewellery shop owners have downed their shutters , preparing and selling delicious snacks and drinks  . Poha ,malpua,  jalebis, kulfis, aloo tikki with chholey, dosas , vegetable patties , dahi bhalley , noodles , shikanji , tender coconut juice and lemonades  were some of the dishes/drinks that I noticed to be quite popular with the locals and the tourists alike . However , there are no public conveniences anywhere and no chairs or benches provided to sit in the crowded street which can create difficulties for senior citizens .

26 February

Enjoyed sumptuous breakfast at the Patang Rooftop Restaurant on the fourth floor of the Hotel . C omplimented Restaurant Manager Harry for impeccable service .Clicked pictures on the Selfie Wall@Patang and on the “Love Lock “.

Spent some quality time in the early morning hours strolling at Meghdoot Gardens, located  right opposite Treebo Daksh Hotel .

Checked out from the Hotel .

Stopped by on our way to the Airport at Lalbagh Palace . The Palace is one of the most spectacular buildings in Indore. It stands on the outskirts of the town,on the bank of   River Khan. The Palace was built by Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar during 1886-1921.Lal Bagh Palace once hosted many royal receptions and even today, reflects the life style and taste of the Holkar rulers. It has now been converted into a Nehru Centre for learning and research in space sciences and technology . But now the Palace  is in an utter state of disabuse due to lack of proper maintenance . An admission fee of Rs 10 is charged by the State Department of Archaeology and Museums . Carrying of mobile phones and cameras inside the Palace is strictly prohibited .

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Depart for New Delhi from Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar  International Airport , Indore. End of a 4-day fun and adventure filed trip .

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