Rajat Sharma

Mahakal Lok: How Modi is bringing about cultural and spiritual awakening

akb fullPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuedsay unveiled the first phase of the Rs 856 crore ‘Shri Mahakal Lok’ project, a 900-metre-long corridor at the world famous ‘Jyotirlinga’ shrine of Lord Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. The stunning and breathtaking transformation of the shrine enthralled visitors who came to the shrine to hear Prime Minister Modi speak, after he offered special prayers in the ‘garbhagriha’ (sanctum sanctorum) of Mahakaleshwar shrine.

Modi went round the corridor in an e-kart and watched 108 ornate pillars that depict ‘Ananda Tandava Swaroop’ (a form of Lord Shiva’s ethereal dance) and nearly 200 exquisitely carved statues and murals depicting Lord Shiva and goddess Shakti. From the main entrance to the shrine are 93 statues of Lord Shiva, each with a QR code, so that any visitor can scan the codes and download information on Uma App about the religious sculptures.

There are the sculptures of Saptarishis, said to be Lord Shiva’s disciples – Kashyap, Atri, Vashisht, Vishwamitra, Gautam, Jamadagni and Bharadwaj. These ‘saptarishis’ were the pioneers of ‘gotras’ in Hindu dharma. In the middle of Saptarshi Mandal is a Shiva Stambha (pillar) to depict that the seven rishis were taking lessons from Shiva. There is also the sculpture of Samudra manthan (churning of ocean), with Lord Shiva drinking the poison that emanated. On ‘Mahakal Path’ (corridor) was also a huge shivling made from sacred thread (Raksha dhaga). After Modi watched this beautiful shivling, it was removed.

The iconic Rudrasagar Lake, mentioned in ‘Skanda Purana’, which was earlier a pond filled with stench and garbage, now sparkles with water brought from River Kshipra that flows near Ujjain. A massive clean-up was done to improve the quality of water in the lake. Nearly 152 buildings on the path from Kshipra river to the Mahakaleshwar shrine were acquired to build the corridor. Convenience shops, accommodation in rest houses, emergency treatment facilities, e-vehicles and solar-based parking facilities have been built to facilitate tourists, who are likely to visit Ujjain in large numbers and give a huge boost to M.P. tourism.

In the second phase, localities like Maharajwada, Mahakal gate, Rudrasagar, Hari Phaatak bridge, Ramghat façade, musical fountain at Rudrasagar, Begum Bagh Road, will be spruced up, and a Kumbh Museum will be set up. From Mahakleshwar temple to Ramghat, near the old pedestrian walkway, a garden will be developed. There will be light and sound shows at Ramghat along the Kshipra river.

In his emotional speech, Prime Minister Modi said, “the grandeur of Mahakal Lok will radiate energy for India’s cultural and spiritual awakening, and its divine splendour will be a sight to behold for many generations, beyond the limits of time.” He thanked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, his government, those from the Temple Trust and sadhus who collaborated in the building of this corridor.

Describing the significance of Ujjain, earlier known as Avantika, Modi said, “Thousands of years ago, when the geographical contours of India could have been different from today’s, it was assumed that Ujjain was located at the centre of India. Ujjain was at the centre not only from the view of astrological calculations, but it was the centre of India’s soul. This city was one of the seven sacred ‘Puris’ (ancient cities) of India, where Lord Shri Krishna came for his education. Ujjain has witnessed the valour of King Vikramaditya, who ushered in a new golden age in India.”

Modi said, “On the soil of Mahakal, began a new chapter of Indian calculations of time in the form of Vikram Samvat. Each moment of Ujjain encapsulates history and spirituality, and divine energy radiates from each of its corners. There are 84 shivlingas here that represent the 84 ‘kalps’ of Kaal Chakra, there are 4 Mahavirs, 6 Vinayaks, 8 Bhairavs, 8 Matrikas, 9 Navgrahas, 10 Vishnus, 11 Rudras, 12 Adityas, 24 Devis and 88 ‘teerths’ here. In the centre is Rajadhiraj Kaladhiraj Mahakal.”

The Prime Minister said, “In a manner, our rishis had concentrated the symbolic energy of entire universe here in Ujjain. It is because of this that Ujjain, in course of thousands of years, led India’s prosperity, knowledge, glory, civilisation and literature. We can visualize the architecture, its splendour and beauty from the great epic Meghadootam by Mahakavi Kalidasa. Poets like Banabhatta portrayed the culture and traditions of this city. Even writers from Middle Ages, have praised Ujjain’s architecture and sculpture.”

Modi reminded people of how his government has undertaken renovation of major shrines across India. He said, “Work on Ram Mandir is going on at full pace in Ayodhya today. Vishwanath Dham corridor in Kashi has been built. New records of development are being set up in Somnath. New chapters are being written to renovate Kedarnath-Vishwanath area with the blessings of Baba Kedar. For the first time since independence, the Char Dham project has started to link all four shrines by all-weather roads. For the first time since independence, Kartarpur Sahib Corridor has been opened, and Hemkund Sahib is going to be linked by a ropeway. In this series, this grand Mahakal Lok, steeped with the glory of past, is ready to welcome the future.”

Modi said, “In this Amrit Kaal, the immortal Avantika is announcing India’s cultural immortality. Ujjain, which has been the centre of Indian astrological time calculations (Kaal Ganana), now announces a new ‘Kaal Khand’ (period) of India’s cultural and spiritual grandeur.” The Prime Minister also mentioned, “In the past, we saw how conditions changed, rulers changed, India was exploited and we lost our freedom. Invaders like Iltutmish (of Slave Dynasty) tried to destroy Ujjain’s energy, but our centres of faith rejuvenated themselves.”

Any Hindu will feel proud on seeing the grandeur of the magnificient Shri Mahakal Lok corridor. Hindus across the world feel a sense of pride when they watch their Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers to Lord Mahakaleshwar with sandal paste on his forehead. They will surely feel proud on watching the timelessness of Hindu Sanatani spririt on watching the renovated corridor.

This reflects the beginning of a new age of thought. It was a misfortune that rulers during the last 75 years never paid serious attention on renovating the iconic Hindu shrines and on providing basic facilities to millions of devotees that come to pay their obeisance. It was Narendra Modi who thought about the millions of Indians who visit these famous shrines to seek divine blessings.

Whether it is Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, or Vishwanath in Kashi, or Kedarnath, or Somnath in Gujarat, or Baba Vaidyanath in Deoghar or the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, all these shrines are getting a big makeover. Devotees visiting these shrines are now availing of better facilities. This, in itself, is a huge task and the credit should go to Narendra Modi.

We must not forget that our temples are not only centres of our faith, but they provide employment to thousands of people, when devotees visit those cities. Religious tourism gets a big boost. This mix of faith and development is a multi-faceted one. I am of the firm view that the renovation of holy shrines across India will impart tremendous energy to the spiritual and cultural consciousness of all Indians.

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