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The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Kal Bhairav Temple,Ujjain

One of the most famous temples in Ujjain, this temple adds to the similarity of Ujjain and Kashi. As at Kashi, Kal Bhairav is the Kshetrapal, or the guardian deity of the city, and it is the custom to leave the keys with the deity when the temple is closed at night, in the belief that he takes care of the temple and its properties. However, this temple is famous, not for its origins or its importance in the scheme of temples, but for its deity who guzzles wine by the gallons. Yes, the main offering to the deity is wine, and this is also the only Prasad given to the devotees. People flock to this temple, all carrying bottles of wine as an offering. Liquor is available 365 days a year outside the temple.

Our driver had an interesting tale to tell regarding this custom. According to him (let me make it very clear to anyone wishing to argue about the veracity of this tale, that this is completely his version of the story!!!!), when Indira Gandhi was the PM, some doubts were raised about the use of the wine which was offered to the deity. There were some who believed that the liquor offered to the deity was later sold by the pujaris. The priests took offence at such an allegation and wrote to the PM, offering to submit to further investigation if they were assured of availability of wine all through the year, if they were proven innocent. Apparently, or so the tale goes, the offer was accepted and investigations carried out over a period of almost a year, but nothing was ever proved against the priests, and they had their demand met. Today, no matter whether it is a festival or a dry day, liquor is available all through the year at the temple, but only as an offering. An interesting story, wouldn’t you say?

The temple is built inside what looks like a fortress, and the present temple is said to have been built by the Marathas. There are supposed to be some good paintings in the Malwa style inside, but they are barely visible, and in any case, no one at the temple seems inclined to draw attention towards them. All eyes are on the deity, into whose mouth liquor is poured!

The vehicle of Kal Bhairav is a dog, and the life-like statue of the one outside the sanctum is accompanied by many of its companions of flesh and blood.

It is said that as at Kashi, there are 8 temples to the various Bhairavs (collectively known as Ashta Bhairavs) near this one. In fact, I even read of an underground temple to Patal Bhairav within the same compound. However, not much seems to be known about these temples, and in any case, there are few who want to visit such out of the way temples, and we were unable to collect any more information. If you happen to know more details, please do let me know.

A view of the Shipra from the temple......
A cremation in process on the opposite bank


  1. Offering wine to the deity that's is unheard of in these part of India. here in Bairavar temples we offer only kollu , til and light only milagu lamps.

  2. Jai Mahakaal,
    It is very much true that there exists a "Patal Bhairavi " temple under the Kaal Bhairav temple.
    I have even learnt that the "ash/basham" used in Mahakaal Bhasham Aarti used to be collected from cremation ground near Kaal Bhairav temple.
    Nearby this temple , there is a very old temple in the forest where King Vikramaditya gained "Baital Sidhhi". Not many people visit this temple.

  3. @ BULL : thanks a lot for the info... But how do you go to the Patal Bhairavi Temple? When we asked, no one had even heard about this temple....

    and the other temple also, do you have any info about how to get there? I would certainly like to go to such less known temples.. and the info would be useful for other travellers as well....

  4. I have visited the Patal Bhairavi temple, it is on the left side of the main kaal bhairav temple.

    there is a very small window like enterance which leads to this dark cave like temple, there is a small Shivling in the temple.

    About other temples in Ujjain, a must visit is the temple of Mangalnath. This temple is on the way towards the Kaal Bhairav Temple.

  5. @ Amit: thanks a lot for the info..... I have mentioned the mangalnath temple in another post

  6. om hreem bam batukaye aapad uddhaahrnaye kuru kuru batukaye hreem om , jai baba bhairav, jai baba batuk bhairav jai baba kaal bhairav.

  7. कालभैरव - भगवान् शंकर के पूर्णावतार

    देवराजसेव्यमानपावनाङ्घ्रिपङ्कजं व्यालयज्ञसूत्रमिन्दूशेखरं कृपाकरम् ।
    नारदादियोगिवृन्दवन्दितं दिगम्बरं काशिकापुराधिनाथ-काल-भैरवं भजे ।।

    देवराज इन्द्र जिनके पावन चरण-कमलों की भक्ति-पूर्वक निरन्तर सेवा करते हैं, जिनके व्याल-रुपी विकराल यज्ञ-सूत्र धारण करने वाले हैं, जिनके ललाट पर चन्द्रमा शोभायमान है, जो दिगम्बर-स्वरुप-धारी हैं, कृपा की मूर्ति हैं, नारदादि सिद्ध योगि-वृन्द जिनकी सेवा में लगे रहते हैं, उन काशी-पुरी के अभिरक्षक स्वामी कालभैरव की मैं चरण-वन्दना करता हूँ

    भानुकोटिभास्वरं भवाब्धितारकं परं नीलकण्ठमीप्सितार्थदायकं त्रिलोचनम् ।
    कालकालमम्बुजाक्षशूलमक्षरं काशिकापुराधिनाथ-काल-भैरवं भजे ।।

    जो करोड़ों सूर्य के समान दीप्तिमान् हैं, जो भयावह भवसागर पार कराने वाले परम समर्थ प्रभु हैं, जो नीले कण्ठ वाले, अभीष्ट वस्तु को देने वाले और तीन नेत्रों वाले हैं, जो काल के भी काल, कमल के समान सुन्दर नयनों वाले, अक्षमाला और त्रिशूल धारण करने वाले अक्षर-पुरुष हैं, उन काशी-पुरी के अभिरक्षक स्वामी कालभैरव की मैं चरण-वन्दना करता हूँ ।

    मार्गशीर्ष कृष्ण पक्ष की अष्टमी के दिन मध्याह्न-काल में भगवान् काल-भैरव का अवतरण हुआ था । अतः इस दिन भैरव-जयंती मनाई जाएगी। इस दिन श्रद्धालु व्रत रखते हैं।इस दिन प्रत्येक प्रहर में काल भैरव और ईशान नाम के शिव की पूजा और अर्घ्य देने का विधान है । आधी रात के बाद काल भैरव की पूजा-अर्चना की जाती है। इसके बाद पूरी रात का जागरण किया जाता है।मान्यता है कि भगवान भैरव का वाहन कुत्ता है । इसलिए इस दिन कुत्ते (विशेषतया काले रंग का) की भी पूजा की जाती है ।इस व्रत की कथा का उल्लेख शिव पुराण में विस्तार से आया है। भैरव भगवान शिव के दूसरे रूप में माने गए हैं। मान्यता है कि इसी दिन दोपहर के समय शिव के प्रिय गण भैरवनाथ का जन्म हुआ था। कहा जाता है कि भैरव से काल भी भयभीत रहता है, इसलिए उन्हें कालभैरव भी कहते हैं। देश में भैरव जी के कई मंदिर हैं, जिनमें काशी स्थित कालभैरव मंदिर काफी प्रसिद्ध है।
    भगवान भैरव पर दूध चढ़ाया जाता है, लेकिन किलकारी भैरव के विषय में मान्यता है कि वह शराब चढ़ाने पर प्रसन्न होते हैं। उज्जैन स्थित काल-भैरव मंदिर में श्रद्धालु भैरव जी को मदिरा अर्पित करते हैं। ऐसा मानते हैं कि यह व्रत गणेश, विष्णु, यम, चंद्रमा, कुबेर आदि ने भी किया था और इसी व्रत के प्रभाव से भगवान विष्णु लक्ष्मीपति बने, अप्सराओं को सौभाग्य मिला और कई राजा चक्रवर्ती बने। यह सभी कामनाओं की पूर्ति करने वाला व्रत कहा गया है।
    भैरव जी के उपवास के लिए अष्टमी या चतुर्दशी युक्त रविवार और मंगलवार ग्राह्य माने गए हैं। ऐसी मान्यता है कि अष्टमी के दिन स्नान के बाद पितरों का श्राद्ध और तर्पण करने के बाद यदि कालभैरव की पूजा की जाए तो उपासक के साल भर के सारे विघ्न टल जाते हैं। मान्यता यह भी है कि महाकाल भैरव मंदिर में चढ़ाए गए काले धागे को गले या बाजू में बांधने से भूत-प्रेत और जादू-टोने का असर नहीं होता है।शिव-पुराण, शतरुद्र-संहिता, अध्याय ८ के अनुसार भगवान शंकर ने इसी अष्टमी को ब्रह्मा के अहंकार को नष्ट किया था, इसलिए यह दिन ‘भैरव-अष्टमी’ व्रत के रूप में मनाया जाने लगा।वाराणसी-पुरी की अष्ट दिशाओं में स्थापित अष्ट-भैरवों – रुरुभैरव, चण्डभैरव, असितांगभैरव, कपालभैरव, क्रोधभैरव, उन्मत्तभैरव तथा संहारभैरव का दर्शन-आराधन अभीष्ट फलप्रद है । रोली, सिन्दूर, रक्तचन्दन का चूर्ण, लाल फूल, गुड़, उड़द का बड़ा, धान का लावा, ईख का रस, तिल का तेल, लोहबान, लाल वस्त्र, भुना केला, सरसों का तेल – ये भैरवजी की प्रिय वस्तुएँ हैं ।प्रतिदिन भैरवजी की आठ बार प्रदक्षिणा करने से मनुष्यों के सर्वविध पाप विनष्ट हो जाते हैं ।

    आचार्य राघवकीर्ति ( काकागुरु )
    For more details ( sadhana/anushthan/remedies )


  8. I just came back from kaalbhairav temple in ujjain.i am from Goa and had doubt about God drinking wine but when i saw what was happening there with my was clear to my mind that God exits and kaal bhairav God is the was his birthday when i reached there and there was a big Que standing for offering n i have to rush back as i had to catch my bus in 20 minutes..belive me i could got to him directly without wasting a minute. offered and got his blessed coconut as prasad to take home..its a miracal..jai kaalbhairav..    

  9. I visited ujjain first time on 18 th march and had been to kaal bairav too.i was anxious to know about kaal bairav. thanks to anu ji for good photos and some details. special thanks to acharya raghav kirti ji for more details to know about the creation of kaal bairav by devon ke dev Mahadev.I have read two stories of creation of bairav by Mahadev to punish lord brahma.At visit I was offered a photo of mahakal and kaal bairav both in one by pujari ji and feel luchy to have that . kaka guru I have placed that photo in my mandir. can I? can you post more details about? thanks again.

  10. The above narrations are paradoxical. Due to surface tension, any kind of liquid use to flow along with the subject and vanish as if in thin air. The liquid may be reproduced or found either at the bottom of the deity (polished subject) or elsewhere. However, we are in myth and products of emotions and religious sentiments. The liquid is not found anywhere, hence we attribute our opinion to religion. It is much to emphasis that till date no body had gone further into the investigation either lest of repurcussions or might not have taken interest in the matter....

    still I believe, that lord kala bhairav, who is still roaming and wandering in thick jungles and in the vicinity of all shiva temples, is existing,

    vasudev konda

  11. Madam, Your article and photos on Ujjain Kala Bhairava is interesting. Since He is my family deity, I am writing a blog on Him, exclusively on this subject, in Kannada. I'd like to quote few details and pics in my blog,and hence requesting your permission. Also kindly request you to mail me any available detail/literature/pics on this God with you. And my blog link is :

  12. hey thanks for info
    very usefull information you shared with us..thanks again...


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