Thanks to direct flights from Bangalore most destinations across India are now an easy 2 – 3 day trip. The 2 Jyotirlinga’s of MP were on my list for some time and when I got started it was easy to plan and execute. MP is beautiful and waiting to be explored – with direct 90 min flights to Indore & Bhopal it is easy to access. MP is a large state and there is lots to see – what we accomplished in 3 nights was Ujjain / Omkareshwar / Maheshwar / Mandu & Indore
Indigo 7.30 AM flight reaches Indore at 9 AM. Indore to Ujjain is 60 Km and the drive is 75 min including a breakfast stop for Poha / Jalebi / Kachori (This is the breakfast you will get all across MP)
Ujjain is an ancient city on the banks of the Shipra river. Since 600 BC it was the political centre of central India and the capital of the Avanti kingdom. Ujjain is called the Greenwich of India – this is where the zero meridian and Tropic of Cancer intersect. Before Greenwich (in 1854) Ujjain was considered as the central meridian for time in India. Even today when a Hindu horoscope is drawn up the time is always referenced to Ujjain time. Time is KAAL and Ujjain is home to Mahakaal – the ancient Jyotirlinga. Ujjain is also where the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years.
You can cover all that there is to see in Ujjain easily in 1/2 a day – we were lucky with no crowds – Oct 10th was a Monday and the 1st day of the holy Karthik month, thankfully Prime Minister Modi was to inaugurate the development work around the Jyotirlinga on 11th so the crowds had stayed away.
What to see in Ujjain
Harsiddhi Mata Temple a Shaktipeeth where Devi’s elbow is supposed to have fallen. the normal practise is to visit the Devi temple before proceeding to the Mahakaleshwar temple
The ancient Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple is a 5 min walk from the Shatipeeth. A friendly priest took us in bypassing the sparse crowds. You can carry your phone and there are no dress restrictions. Compared to the other 9 Jyotirlinga’s I have visited – the Lingam at Mahakaal is large. The temple complex is small – there is a shrine for Omkareshwar and on the 3rd floor a shrine for the snake god – that is open only on Nag Panchami. There is also a shrine dedicated to Navagrahas with 9 Lingams.
Mahakaal is famous for the early morning Bhasm Arti at 4 AM , and you need to book tickets months in advance. Its a sight to see at least once in your lifetime, and I intend to come back. With the new development works being inaugurated – I guess a trip to Mahakaal could be longer in future.
Ujjain was the capital of the great king Vikramaditya and Kalidasa wrote his grand epic Meghaduta here. As you exit the temple you will see a park and statue dedicated to King Vikramaditya and his Navaratnas.
There are hundreds of temple in the ancient city of Ujjain but these are the must visit places
- Sandipani Ashram where Lord Krishna, Balram & Sudama studied. It is a beautiful place with high energy vibes. It also has some ancient temples.
- Ancient Kalbhairav temple – where you can offer liquor as Prasad.
- Ram Ghat is of immense religious significance to Hindus as it is one of the four locations where the Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years. It is believed that Lord Vishnu dribbled some drops of Amrit at Ram Ghat.
- Mangalnath temple considered the birth place of Mars.
Ujjain also has a Jantar Mantar. This was the city where Varāhamihira (c. 505 – c. 587) an ancient Indian astrologer, astronomer, and polymath lived. Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara I & II, Vateshwara, all are said to have worked at Ujjain.
Most people dont stay at Ujjain – they consider it a Jinx. We stayed at a nice place called Sri Ganga hotel. Its a very famous sweet shop of Ujjain and they have rooms on the higher floors. Rooms are very spacious and clean. Ujjain is a clean city with broad roads and green parks. We had the evening free to roam around the city and visit the market area called Freeganj.
Day 2 we leave for Omkareshwar at 7.30 AM
Indore is centrally located between Ujjain & Omkareshwar. The drive to Omkareshwar from Ujjain took us about 4 hrs. Most of it is through villages but the last section is through beautiful hilly landscapes.
Omkareshwar is an island on the banks of the Narmada – the tradition is to visit Omkareshwar & Mamleshwar to complete the Jyotirlinga trip. Omkareshwar is also being developed – a 120 feet statue dedicated to Adi Shankara and an international Advaita Vedanta Sansthan is coming up here.
Omkareshwar is where the young Adi Shankara in search of his Guru met Govinda Bhagvatpada. The cave where Shankara lived is right below the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Omkareshwar Temple and there are steps that lead up to the temple and down to the ghats. Not many people know of this cave – and it was quiet and empty. Visiting this cave was the highlight of this trip.
Many people do a Parikrama around Omkareshwar – that takes about 3 – 4 hrs. The boat ride Parikrama was closed because the Narmada was in full spate after heavy rains.
A friendly priest showed us all the places (Pandit Bhagwat Mishra – 99265 55753) We were able to cover all the sites in Omkareshwar / Mamleshwar between 11.30 – 1.30 and headed out to Maheshwar the capital of Rani Ahilyabai Holkar.
The small town of Maheshwar is located 70 Km from Omkareshwar and we reached by 2.45. Good roads. we stayed at the MPT Narmada Resort at Maheshwar which is located on the banks of the river Narmada. Its a nice property – book the new suite with river facing rooms. The restaurant also serves good fresh food.
Maheshwar was the capital of Rani Ahilyaba Holkar. It’s a small clean town – like a small European fort village. Take a guide to visit the fort. We used the services of Ashwin – 8602877830. A part of the fort has been converted to an heritage hotel.
Budget about 1 1/2 hrs to see the fort and as you walk back to your resort do stop over in one of the factory outlets for the world famous Maheshwari sarees, lightweight – silk / cotton mix in prices range from Rs 2500 – 7500.
We spent the night at MPT Narmada and enjoyed a nice walk by the river the next day morning. The Narmada is wide, beautiful and serene – it’s a rejuvenating experience walking in the ghats here – almost alone.
Post breakfast we left at 9.30 AM to Mandu.
Day 3 we reach Mandu
Maheshwar to Mandu is only 46 Kms. Its a beautiful scenic drive. Mandu is on a hilltop and was the capital of the Paramaras in 10th & 11th century before it was taken over by the Delhi Sultanate and then the Afghans, Khiljis & finally the Mughals. The structure is spread over multiple locations so budget two sessions of 2 hrs each to cover all the sights at a relaxed pace. One of the tombs here is was the inspiration for the Taj. Mandu is also famous for the love story of rani Roopmati & Sultan Baz Bahadur
We stayed at MPT Maheshwar – a very nice resort (Note that there are two MPT Resorts in Mandu – ensure that you book the MPT Malwa Resort)
You will need a guide to explore Mandu (Mohammad – 7748072889)
Day 4 we head back to Indore
Mandu – Indore ~ 100 Km , 2 hrs. After breakfast we left Mandu at 9.30 AM and reached Indore at 11.30. You should book your return flight to Bangalore by the 5 PM Indigo.
Had lunch with my college friend who helped me plan this trip at lovely restaurant called Mitti cafe. https://www.mitti.cafe. Loved the ambience and the food.
Indore is famous for Namkeens – so dont forget to visit Om Namkeens and stock up. There are a few temples and places to visit in Indore if you are interested.
In summary MP is a clean, affordable, easy to access state with lots to see. Excellent food – almost everything is Veg. Good simple people. We have just covered one part of MP – there is lots more as the map on the top of the blog indicates. So it will take a few more trip to discover all the sights of MP. One of the local hotel staff tole me that Nirmala Travels from Bangalore has taken a lead in promoting group trips to MP and most tourists come from Bangalore.
Network is good and 3G worked everywhere – economy is still cash based and UPI payments are not accepted everywhere.
My friend helped organise the cab from Indore Airport and the driver was with us all though the 3 night – 4 days – 580 Km trip – he can be contacted at 9893962781 – Mangilal.
Thanks to my college mates Rahul & Rashmikant who helped me plan this trip. So 11 Jyotirlinga’s done that leaves the Baidyanath Temple at Deoghar – and it’s good to note that the airport at Deoghar has opened recently.