Dewas literally means the abode of the Gods. I had been hankering to visit this quaint town for quite some time. There was no particular reason for the hankering. I knew it housed some temples. Those temples are neither well known like Ujjain or Omkareshwar nor are they known to be any architectural marvels. But still there was some pull which was drawing me towards Dewas.
I was to board my bus for Udaipur from Indore in the night. I decided to make a day trip to Dewas. It was still dark when I got down at Sarvate bus stand and boarded a bus for Dewas. I literally alighted from one bus and squeezed myself into another. In Madhya Pradesh government transport is only namesake and the private buses are the only mode of transport for the commoners.
When I arrived at Dewas it was still dark. I alighted at the bus stop. It was pitch dark. Not a soul was to be seen on the roads. I wanted to freshen up before I started for the temple. I found only one lodge on the road by name Surya. It was undoubtedly the ugliest lodge I had ever seen in my life. As stated earlier I just wanted to have a bath and had no plans to stay overnight. Moreover there was no other better option in my hands. So I decided to put up at Surya.
After bath I started for the temple which locales call as Tekri meaning a hillock. It was six in the morning and was terribly cold. The temple is near the bus stand and is walkable. You do not need any conveyance to reach there. Rather it would be appropriate to say that no conveyance reaches to the top. Though I was able to spot policemen riding their bikes to the hillock.
Before the ascend to begin I was able to spot the bungalow of the famous classical singer Kumar Gandharva to my left. I was super excited. But the fact that the great singer is no longer alive and I would not be able to meet him in flesh and blood disheartened me. I thanked all the recording companies for preserving his voice for many generations to come.
As it was petty early in the morning even most of the shanties selling flowers, coconuts, chunari, photos and other religious paraphernalia were still closed. The vendors were brushing their teeth and heating water on the earthen stove for bath.
I entered the iron gate which was probably erected to prevent motorcycle riders from taking their bikes to the top. I began the steep climb. The Tekri appeared to be a favourite spot for people of Dewas to go for morning walk and exercises. Men and women in tracksuits and walking shoes were climbing and descending, greeting each other a good morning. There was a man who was climbing alone with Marathi songs from the film Asthavinayak playing on his mobile. I was proud to hear Marathi songs being played out of Maharasthra. But I was equally ashamed as a Marathi man was committing the sin of breaking the peaceful, serene and pious environment with the noise blaring from his Chinese handset which promised high pitch sound.
There are benches installed on the way for the pilgrims to sit. Many of them were broken. There was drinking water facility as well. However the plight of the water station was such that I doubt if anyone would dare to drink a single drop therefrom.
The walk though steep is not much in distance. As you climb up mesmerizing views of Dewas town are on offer. The town had slept covered with a blanket of mist over it. The Sun had come out gently kissing the houses and making them to get out of the blanket.
First came the temple of Tuljabhawani who is also known as the badi Mata. The temple appears newly constructed. Though the idol of the Goddess is old.
The Goddess is charming with beautiful eyes that bestow benediction. The courtyard of the temple offers breathtaking view of the town rightly called as Dewas. The yellow tiger seated in the courtyard has eyes made of marble and catches attention.
After prostrating before the badi Mata I proceeded for the parikrama. There are numerous small shrines on the parikrama path. I saw a big Trishul standing tall. To prevent any loss of life due to landslides the moutains that overlook the path are covered with nets.
Dense greenery and steep valleys and not to mention the morning walkers accompanied me throughout my parikrama and for that matter my visit to the shrine.
The cutely decked up Hanuman too was quite a site.
Until I visited Dewas for me Kho-Kho was just a game. But I discovered Kho-Kho Mata's mandir on the way to Parikrama. I was happy to have found a goddess with an unusual name. I wish there was some more information available regarding the Kho-Kho goddess.
Then comes the Choti Mata's temple. You have to climb a few steps to reach the temple.
Choti Mata is bigger in size than the badi Mata and her gigantic form takes you in complete awe.
Her temple is an ancient rock structure peculiar to the architecture of the Marathas.
There are banyan trees with their wide expanse in the premises of choti Mata's temple.
There is a small shrine of Kalbhairava too. He appears alive and has the most expressive features.
Also stood in the premises a Sadhu amidst a dhooni and Goraknath's idol. Sadhus and their lives have always fascinated me. But I do not know why I did not feel like talking to him. Choti Mata's temple is the highlight of the Dewas trip and it does not disappoint you for sure. There was a large group of devotees who had come to pay their respects to the choti Mata. But still the atmosphere was serene. A photographer managed to entice them and they clicked pictures with the huge Choti Mata in the backdrop. Everyone including the photographer cleaned the sanctum of the temple with a broom. This custom was unknown to me. Perhaps it was an act to fetch good deeds and enter good books of the goddess.
I completed my parikrama. There is a relatively new Jain temple at the end of the parikrama.
The Tekri has numerous trees. These ancient trees along with the shrines are indeed a part of our culture which all of us should be proud of.
But this jewel of our culture is calling for preservation. Everywhere on the Tekri you find dirt of plastic cups and bottles, coconut husk, papers and such other stuff. When will we realize that the Goddess does not reside only in the shrine but this Tekri itself is manifestation of that mother divine?
I descended the Tekri and took a tempo to go to Keladevi. It is at the distance of 3 kms from the Tekri. Keladevi is a private temple complex which has newly constructed temples of Vaishnodevi, Keladevi, Hanuman and Shiva. It has towering statutes of Hanuman and Devi. Keladevi offers nothing special and can be given a miss for sure.
Instead head to Bilavali where Mahakaleshwar resides. Bilavali is a quaint village at a distance of 3 kms (Both Keladevi and Bilavali are in opposite directions) from Devas. It houses the ancient Mahakaleshwar temple. Though the temple is recent cement concrete construction, the ugliest thing which is done under the name of renovation, it is located in a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The air was cool and I could feel the positive spiritual vibrations of the place.
It has a Hanuman temple and a small Bhairav temple as well. Sitting on the bench near the Bhairav temple I watched the temple. The huge banyan tree with a mongrel under its shade made the picture perfect.
Devas is indeed the abode of Gods and I soaked as much spirituality inside me as I could. My only wish – it should have been cleaner.