UJJAIN: “It is one of the new wonders of the world,” said Suriname President Chandrikapersad ‘Chan’ Santokhi after visiting Shri Mahakal Lok and offering prayers at the historic Mahakaleshwar Temple here.
Hundreds of NRIs, who came to Madhya Pradesh’s commercial capital Indore to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) and visited the holy shrine, echoed his sentiments.
Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar Temple, one of the most ancient shrines of Hindu god Shiva, has been given a transformational facelift through Mahakaal Rudrasagar Integrated Development Approach (MRIDA) project. The first phase of the project, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 11 last year, has been named as Shri Mahakal Lok.
With a wide range of infra projects under the Centre’s Smart Cities Scheme, the project makes the entry, stay and exit of visitors hassle-free. At the same time, it has added modern tourism amenities to the religious itinerary of the visitors seeking the divine blessing at the Mahakal doorsteps.
The key features of Shri Mahakal Lok include segregation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, non-motorised traffic zone as a linkage from parking to temple, better parking areas to address routing and festive crowd and ample recreational spaces and integration of information technology for crowd management and public ease.
The newly-constructed a visitor plaza holds 20,000 pilgrims at a time and has two entrances, (Nandi Dwaar and Pinaki Dwaar), ticketing/ information kiosks, landscaped area with sculptures, lake view area, Shiv Stambha (54ft. high) with Saptrishi, Lotus Pond with fountains and Shiv statue in center, 70 ft. in length Tripurasur Vadh sculpture, various sculptures of Shiv, Parwati, Ganesh, Kartikey, Navgrah Vatika and an Open Air Theatre
A 900-meter Heritage Corridor leading to temple comprises sculptures, 108 stambhas with different Shiv Anand Tandav Swaroop, mural wall of 25 ft. height having Shiv Puraan, landscape area, walking corridor, e-rickshaw corridor and underground utilities.
A mid-way zone has been created at both the entry points with a holding capacity for 2,000 people to provide basic facilities with 50 shops.
Traditional architectural elements like arcade and colonnades have been used along with sculptures. The projects under Phase-I also makes 17 hectare Rudrasagar Lake sewer-free and provision for filling the lake with Kshipra River water, As many as 128 shops have been constructed for food courts, handicrafts, ritual commodity shops.
The Mahakal theme park is an open area development which acts as a recreational space with a holding capacity of 4,730 and sitting capacity for 1,100 at one point of time. As the park is located near the proposed entry of Mahakal Temple, the stepped garden provides a serpentine form of movement which can be utilised for queuing purpose during peak times.
In order to decongest the Mahakal precinct and provide adequate parking for normal and peak days, a multilevel car parking has been constructed with development of underground infrastructure and roads for dharamshala. The parking is covered with solar panels with 400-Kwh capacity which will help electricity requirements of project area
In addition, there is a wellequipped security surveillance area with command centre and e-rickshaw parking with charging dock. The ancient Mahakaal Dwaar and ancient pedestrian route connecting Shree Mahakaleshwar temple and Ramghat has been conserved under the care of specialists. A Facility Centre-2, near Mahakaleshwar Temple, has been created increasing the capacity by 6,000 persons at a time
Second major project
The MRIDA project in Ujjain is the second major project after the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for developing a major religious city of India combining tradition with modern technology. The premise has been developed such that it can now accommodate one lakh pilgrims at a time and 25 lakh pilgrims in a day
Though the key elements of the planning and implementation of the two projects were similar, the challenges presented to urban planners were different and different methods had to be adopted to meet them.
The redevelopment of the area involved shifting of 16 schools and a college, shifting of 183 families, 17 police quarters and a thana to create facilities for pilgrims and tourists. Rejuvenation of 17.4 hectare Rudrasagar Lake was undertaken with zero-per cent sewage water in lake.
Solar panels have been installed on school buildings and on surface parking with a total capacity of 640 Kwh to serve the increased energy needs and to make the school campus sustainable.
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