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Written by Shalu Chandran,
The 2016 Maha Kumbh Mela is expected to attract the largest congregation of devotees and visitors to Ujjain next month. One of the greatest gatherings of Hindu devotees from across the country and visitors from all over the world, the Simhastha Kumbh Mela 2016 returns to banks of the holy River Kshipra in Ujjain, the city of Shri Mahakaleshwar (Lord Shiva) temple in Madhya Pradesh, after 12 years.With close to five crore visitors expected to attend the event this year, we at AyurUniverse offer convenient packages that promise visitors a seamless, stress-free, once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey – where they will take a holy dip in the sacred Kshipra river to wash off their sins thus ending the cycle of rebirth and meet and interact with monks, saints and yogis from various sects across India. We offer a choice of packages with three, four and five-star hotels located in the vicinity of the festival or in the outskirts of the city. Our all-inclusive packages offer airport pick-ups (in cars and e-rickshaws in the city), guided walk to the bathing ghats and tours around Ujjain city including to the popular Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple, making this an experience like no other. Read more about Simhastha Kumbh Mela below.
This year Ujjain will open its doors to visitors from across the nation and the world and the Kumbh Mela returns to the city, after 12 years. The Simhastha Kumbh Mela as it is popularly known is celebrated when the Jupiter ascends into the zodiac sign Leo’s quarter or the ‘Simha’ constellation of the zodiac. Ujjain is also the seat of the divine Mahakal or Lord Shiva who is the Lord of all times. This year the Simhastha Kumbh Mahaparv will begin on April 22 and will continue for 40 days until May 21, 2016. The city is preparing itself to welcome five crore visitors, looking to take a dip in the banks of river Kshipra.
Kumbh Mela is held in rotation on the river banks of the four holiest places, as believed by the Hindus: the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the Godavari at Nasik and the Kshipra at Ujjain.
Ujjain is an ancient city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh and lies on the eastern bank of the sacred Kshipra River. The city being one of the seven Hindu sacred cities (Sapta Puri) hosts the Kumbh Mela every twelve years. According to mythology, Lord Krishna had along with Sudama and Balarama received his education from Maharshi Sandipani here. The River Kshipra in Ujjain has become the enhancer of life and the grand Simhastha held here is an unrivalled celebration of the country.
The city of Ujjain is abound with temples, rich in history and tradition. While most of them have been built upon sites of antiquity, they don’t stand in their original splendor but have been renovated or rebuilt over the years. Yet, the temples form an integral part of the city and its appeal beckons visitors from all over the world.
As the city prepares itself for the influx of pilgrims and tourists, a massive refurbishment and renovation work is underway at most hotels and resorts. Special arrangements will be made for smooth movement of traffic, though much of the areas surrounding the ghats will be cordoned off and vehicle entry will be restricted. The government plans to introduce 3000 e-rickshaws to help pilgrims get around the city.
Many infrastructural developments have also been initiated for the event. For instance, the drinking water supply of around 33 MGD will be made available for the pilgrims with extremely well planned water distribution system, an electricity distribution of around 82 MVA is being arranged. For the security of the visitors, a disaster management team including police personnel, home guards, swimming trainers, motorboat provisions and local volunteers will be on duty near the ghats. There will also be a massive arrangement of street lighting in the city. The city has also set up camps, dharamshalas and motels for the accommodation of pilgrims. Along with these camp accommodations, hygienic toilets will also be available in the area.
Elaborate arrangements have been made by the Water Resources Department at the ghats. There will be suitable arrangements for bathing for 18 hours from 4am to 10pm, for one crore devotees at every Holy Bath. One of the main responsibilities of the department is to ensure water levels of 1.20 meter during Holy Baths and availability of fresh water after every Holy Bath. The department has constructed 35 ghats in 6 zones. Some of the popular Ghats are located along the banks of River Kshipra namely Shri Ram Ghat, Triveni Ghat, Gau Ghat, Mangalnath Ghat, Siddhwat Ghat, Kabir Ghat, Rinmukteshwar Ghat, Bhukimata Ghat, Datt Akhada Ghat, Chintaman Ghat, Prashanti Dham Ghat, Sunheri Ghat and Narsingh Ghat
Routes of devotees’ to and fro movement at various ghats have also been identified. A public awareness campaign would be undertaken for maintenance of sanitation at ghats, implementation of Khan river diversion and keeping Kshipra river pollution-free through barricading of ghats.
The main bathing dates for Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016 are:
April 22, 2016 (Friday) – Purnima First Sahi Snaan
May 3, 2016 (Tuesday) – Vratparv Vauthini Ekadashi
May 6, 2016 (Friday) – Vaishakh Krishna Amavasya (First pramukh snan)
May 9, 2016 (Monday) – Shukla/Akshey Tritya (Second pramukh Snan)
May 11, 2016 (Wednesday) – Shukla Panchami
May 15, 2016 (Sunday) – Vrishabh Sankranti
May 17, 2016 (Saturday) – Ekadashi & Pradosh Snan
May 19, 2016 (Thursday) – Pradosh
May 20, 2016 (Friday) – Nursingh Jayanti
May 21, 2016 (Saturday) – Purnima Main Shahi Snan
Sadhus or Akharas of various sects from across the country are expected to reach Ujjain and mingle with pilgrims as they take their ritual dip in the holy waters of the Kshipra. During the holy bath at the Kumbha Mela, the main bathing site is surrounded by these akharas, who first take the holy dip in the sacred river, following which devotees and visitors are allowed to go ahead with Shahi snan. They spend the rest of their time at the Kumbh Mela in activities include religious discussions, devotional singing and offering meals to holy men and women and the poor. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin and tilaks that let people identify his sect. The tilak represents a form of self-control in today’s world where man indulges in worthless thoughts.
The Nagas (sanyasis of Shiavite cult) and their shahi snan in Kshipra, is an important attraction of Simhastha. It is an unusual sight to witness the shahi snan when the Nagas show up in nothing but their weaponry, to take bath in the holy river.
Ujjain has its own railway station that connects the city to all major cities of India. The nearest airport is the Indore Airport which is about 55kms from the city and the Bhopal airport is 172kms from Ujjain. The city is well connected to other cities through bus. Ujjain is connected to New Delhi via train and bus which will take around 12 hours and also through flights till Indore.
The city of Ujjain is considered as divine land with some of the most revered temples in the vicinity. The Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple is home to one of the 12 jyotirlings, ranked higher than Kedarnath and Kashi in spiritual significance. Other popular tourist sites include the Harsiddhi Temple, Chintaman Ganesh Temple, ISKCON Temple, Jantar Mantar and the Bhartrihari Caves.
Unified by the traditions and beliefs of the Indian culture, millions of visitors arrive at the banks of Kshipra to take the holy dip for salvations. It is truly a spectacular sight that brings together the diversity of the country to the ghats of the Kshipra river, that also become a center of bathing, giving alms and libations.
Come and be part of this amazing festival of faith!
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