– By Dr. A Pranesh

Bhartrihari Caves Bharthihari Caves- Entrance
Bhartrihari caves are located about 10 kms from Ujjain town, Madhya Pradesh. It is on the banks of river Shipra. The location is serene.

There are primarily two caves which can be entered down by steps.

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On entering the cave we see an idol of Goraknath. The caves are fortunately illuminated with small electric bulbs.


There are some exit points in the cave and one of them is believed to lead to Chardham at Himalayas. But these exits are closed with barricades to prevent people entering it as it could be dangerous, since it is never used from past couple of centuries.

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As we go deep into the cave there is an idol of Bhartrihari and a small Shivling.


Some pillars in the cave have stone carvings.

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There is a Kaal Bhairav temple before the entrance of the cave and behind this we find the idols of Nava yogis. These yogis belong to the same lineage of Bhartrihari viz Nathas.


Historically Bhartrihari was the elder step brother of legendary Vikramadithya. But some say he is the younger brother but no definite proof is available about this truth. Even Bhartrihari has never written his auto biography, or anyone his biography. It is true with great people of the past who never bothered to glorify themselves. They considered knowledge as the glory of Saraswati and they are only dissipating it.

It is believed that Bhartrihari was extremely attached to his wife Pingala. It so happened, once a Brahmin gave him a fruit, when consumed would make a person live longer. Bhartrihari gave it to his wife, whom he loved more than his life, but she gave it to the horse keeper with whom she had an illicit relationship. He in turn gave it to a prostitute, to whom he was a frequent visitor. But the prostitute felt that the king was the ideal person to eat the fruit. So she went to court and gave it to king. Bhartrihari came to know the whole episode and his eyes opened by the infidelity present in the world. Hence he handed over his kingdom to Vikramaditya and turned into an ascetic. He joined the Natha cult and spent rest of his life in meditation on the outskirts of Ujjain in the company of his nephew Gopichand who had also renounced the world and was also in the Natha cult.

Bhartrihari and Gopichand are believed to have meditated in these caves. Bhartrihari has written the great works- Neethi shathakam, Vairagya shathakam and Shringara shatakam having 100 verses of immense philosophical values. Shringara shatakam deals with Kama or desire, Neeti shatakam deals with values or Dharma, where as Vairagya shatakam deals with Gnana and Moksha. It is well known that Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha are four Purusharthas (goals) of every human being. Obviously these works of Bhartrihari would lead to Moksha for a person who reads and understands his vedantic approach.