A Guide to Uḍḍiyāna

Pilgrimage | Tibetan MastersChatral Rinpoche

English | བོད་ཡིག

Chatral Rinpoche

Chatral Rinpoche, Sangye Dorje

Further Information:

A Guide to Uḍḍiyāna (Ujjain),[1] Benglor

by Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche

If on the way to Bhopal[2] you find yourself at Sanchi,[3] then you are already nearly in Uḍḍiyāna. Sanchi is a wonderful place. There is convenient, low cost accommodation near the railway station, and trains run from here to Uḍḍiyāna.[4] Once you get to Uḍḍiyāna, you will find government taxis at the bus station, and guided tours can be arranged as early as six in the morning.[5] The tour guides are specific to Uḍḍiyāna, and – if you understand Hindi – they can give an excellent introduction to each of the sites. It would be a very good idea to visit this place at least once. You can also get there by rickshaw quite cheaply. In the central temple, Mahakaleshwar,[6] there is a naturally-arisen stone image of Mahākalī.

Secondly, there is a cave of solid rock called Baharita Gupha,[7] which is also amazing to behold. Long ago, while the king of Uḍḍiyāna[8] was resting in samādhi here, local spirits began causing him trouble. A lightning bolt struck a pillar, splitting it down the middle. The mighty king held up the pillar with his two hands, leaving handprints in the stone.[9] To this day, through great blessings, the pillars are still suspended in the air.

Thirdly, close by, there is a statue of Bhairava, Lord of Death,[10] depicted drinking alcohol. Those who know this site bring beer or liquor as offerings to the statue. The surrounding area is dotted with statues that depict the deities of the Buddhist tradition and have a convincing air about them. Additionally, there is place called Vajra Cave, and a stūpa surrounded by dense shrubbery and trees. It resembles a small hill, and you have to look carefully to recognize it.[11]

Then, to the northeast of Uḍḍiyāna, lies the Muslim land of Koteshwar.[12] This is also where you will find the amazing and blessed site of ''Sindhu Gyatsö Rolwä Ling'' (“the Island in the Sindhu Ocean”).[13] Most Indians know of this sacred place but do not actually journey there, since it is so remote. In order to get there from Uḍḍiyāna, you go to Indore,[14] to Ahmedabad(i),[15] to Buj(i), and then finally to Koteshwar – the island which in Tibetan is called ''Sindhu gyatsö rolwä ling''. When you go to this place on pilgrimage it is good to do so quietly. Otherwise, you may find that you run into difficulties. The main site is the Sindhu island, but there are also other recognizable sites in the vicinity, including some excellent caves.[16] It is said that every twelve years, out in the middle of the ocean, the water becomes endowed with the eight qualities.[17] As of now, there are still those who go out in boats to collect this water.

Other than this, there is nothing else to say. Enjoy your time in this place, and all your queries will be answered.

Translated by Kaleb Yaniger and Stefan Mang, 2016. Edited by Libby Hogg.


  1. Throughout his guide, Kyabjé Chatral Rinpoche uses the Tibetan word “Orgyen” (Tib. ''o rgyan'') which is normally used to refer to the country of Uḍḍiyāna. It becomes clear from Rinpoche’s site descriptions that, in this case, ''Orgyen'' refers to the city of Ujjain. An ancient city of central India, Ujjain is located in the Malwa region of the state of Madhya Pradesh, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River. In ancient times the city was called ''Ujjayini''. In the Mahābhārata, ''Ujjayani'' was the capital of the Kingdom of Avanti.  ↩

  2. Bhopal is the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.  ↩

  3. Sanchi lies 46 km to the north-east of Bhopal. Sanchi is famous for its great stūpa, which enshrines relics of the Buddha and was commissioned by King Aśoka.  ↩

  4. A few guest houses are located in the vicinity of Sanchi railway station. The distance from Sanchi to Ujjain is about 250 km. Depending on the train, the journey will take 5–8 hours. Buses are also available from Sanchi to Ujjain.  ↩

  5. For more information on traveling in Ujjain, please see: http://wikitravel.org/en/Ujjain  ↩

  6. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Śiva, is Ujjain’s central object of worship and pilgrimage. It is one of the twelve Jyotirliṅgaṃs.  ↩

  7. ''Baharita'' here most likely means ''Bharthari'', whereas ''Gupha'' means “cave” in Hindi. This is a reference to the Raja Bharthari Cave. Bharthari was the ruler of Ujjain in the 1st century BC, before he renounced the world and abdicated in favor of his younger brother Vikramāditya. He became a follower of Guru Gorakhnāth and went with his nephew Gopi Chand to the Guru's hillside abode in northern Punjab. His younger Vikramāditya was a legendary emperor of ancient India. He is seen as the ideal king, known for his generosity, courage, and patronage of scholars. There are many legends about Vikramāditya, including the ones in Baital Pachisi and Singhasan Battisi. Most of the legends present him as a universal ruler with his capital at Ujjain.  ↩

  8. This refers to King Bharthari. He is said to have meditated inside the cave for twelve years. According to Hindu legend, the king was faced with many obstacles during his retreat. He overcame them, and as a result Indra appeared to him.  ↩

  9. This could also simply mean that he was very powerful. The cave is supported by pillars, but it is unclear which pillar Rinpoche is describing here.  ↩

  10. The Kal Bhairav temple is dedicated to Kal Bhairav, the guardian deity of the city. Located on the banks of the Shipra River, it is one of the busiest temples in the city, with hundreds of devotees visiting every day. Liquor is one of the daily offerings made to the statue. There is a store close by, selling liquor for offering. Kal Bhairav is about 2 km away from the Raja Bharthari Cave. Please also note that the Sri Vikrant Bhairav Temple is close by.  ↩

  11. The Patal Bhairavi temple is within the Kal Bhairav compound. There is small cave containing a Śiva Lingam. This could be the cave mentioned here. The stūpa may also be within the same compound.  ↩

  12. Koteshwar is a bay island not far from the Indus river delta. It is located near the mouth of Kori Creek, in the western part of the Kutch district of Gujarat, India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit words ''koṭi (''ten million) and ''īśvara'' (gods). It is first mentioned in the writings of Xuanzang, who described it as “Kie-tsi-shi-fa-lo,” situated on the western border, close to the river Indus and to the “great ocean" of Kutch. Beal, Samuel. ''Si-yu-ki. Buddhist Records of the Western World Vol II,'' (London: Trübner, 1884), 276.  ↩

  13. This is the island on which Guru Rinpoche miraculously took birth. As stated in'' The Prayer in Seven Chapters, Chapter Six: The Prayer Requested by Prince Mutri Tsenpo'': “On an island in the Sindhu sea (''sindhu gyatso rolpö tso ling du''), on a shimmering lotus flower, with no father, no mother, naturally arising, with no cause, no conditions, you came to bring benefit to beings. To you, wondrous and self-arising, we pray! To the Lotus-born Guru of Orgyen, we pray!”  ↩

  14. Indore, 55 km south of Ujjain, is the largest city in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.  ↩

  15. Ahmedabad is the largest city in Gujarat, and its former capital. It is located 400 km to the west of Indore.  ↩

  16. Most likely, this is a reference to the ''Koteshwar Mahadev Temple'' and the ''Shiv Temple, Paan-Punya Khamba'', on the island of Koteshwar itself. In times past, this temple was almost entirely cut off from the mainland by tidal creeks. Nowadays, however, it is connected by road. There is also the ''Narayan Sarovar'', particularly sacred to Hindus, one of five lakes that are collectively called the ''Pancha-Sarovar''. The other four lakes are ''Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar'' and ''Pushkar Sarovar''. Legend tells that the holy Sarasvatī river met the sea near Koteshwar, which meant that the ''Narayan Sarovar'' was sustained by holy water from the Sarasvatī river. The temple near the lake is dedicated to Lord Viṣṇu. The caves there are probably the ''Siyot Caves''. The ''Siyot Caves'', sometimes referred to as the ''Koteshwar Buddhist Caves'', are five rock-cut caves located close to Siyot village in the Lakpat Taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat, India.  ↩

  17. The eight qualities of the water – it is 1. crystal clear, 2. cool, 3. sweet, 4. light, 5. soft, 6. soothing to the stomach, 7. free of impurities, 8. soothing for the throat.  ↩

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