The Mahakaleswar Temple is another famous tantrik center of Ujjain. A flight of steps leads down to the sanctum sanctorum that houses the Shiva lingam
. Several impressive ceremonies are held here during the day. However, for tantriks
, it is the first ceremony of the day that is of particular interest. Their attention is focused on the "bhasm aarti" or the ash ritual — the only one of its kind in the world. It is said that the ash with which the Shiva lingam is 'bathed' every morning must be that of a corpse that has been cremated the day before. If no cremation has taken place at Ujjain, then the ash must be obtained at all costs from the nearest cremation ground. However, the temple authorities assert that though it was once customary for the ash to belong to a 'fresh' corpse, the practice had long been discontinued. The belief goes that those who are fortunate to watch this ritual will never die a premature death.
The topmost floor of the Mahakaleswar Temple remains closed to the public all through the year. However, once a year — on Nag Panchami Day-the top floor with its two snake images (which are supposed to be sources of tantrik power) are thrown open to the public, who come to seek "darshan" of Gorakhnath ki Dhibri, literally meaning "the marvel of Gorakhnath".
(With inputs from Tantrik Master Shri Aghorinath Ji.)