Bhartrihari caves of Madhya Pradesh stand proudly on the bank of the Shipra River, near the revered Gadkalika Temple of Ujjain. Named after the famous sage 'Bhatrihari', the caves stand as testimony to the traditional wealth of India. Today, these caves are popular amongst tourists visiting Madhya Pradesh for their historical charm. The pellucid waters of Shipra cascades near the caves and add to the beauty of the place.
These caves, assigned to 11th century AD, are the exact site where
Bhartrihari, stepbrother of King Vikramaditya, resided and meditated.
Born a king, Bhartrihari renounced his affluent lifestyle and adopted
the garb of an ascetic. The reason behind it was his disturbing relation
with his wife, which gave way to many complexities that he could not
endure. The heartbreak led him to give up all his palatial dreams and
become a spiritualist.
The Legend According to legends, Bhartrihari had an extraordinarily
beautiful wife who was very dear to him. However, the Queen yearned for
the love of another noble. The noble, on the other hand, was besotted
with a courtesan of the court. Ironically, the courtesan was in love
with none other than King Bhartrihari. Enmeshed in such complexities in
his conjugal life, Bhartrihari chose to be a hermit, adopted sainthood
and cocooned himself inside these caves.
In fact, his wife's infidelity so tormented him that he repudiated all
his palatial pleasures and whiled away his time mediating inside these
caves. Bhartrihari was also a great scholar and a renowned poet, known
for his delicate use of Sanskrit in his verses. Some of his most famous
works include Shringarshatak, Vairagyashatak and Nitishatak. One can
still feel the beat of a lamented heart inside these caves that still
glorifies the dedicated lover and spiritual poet.
There is a small temple inside the caves, which forms a holy shrine for
people belonging to the Nath community. Every year, thousands of
devotees frequent the place, to pay homage to the poet-prophet. In fact,
Natha sadhus (religious shamans) camp in huge tents that surround the
caves and one can often notice them sitting around ritual fires. The
ancient site of Pir Matsyendranath located nearby heightens the
religious aura of the caves.