Destinations - International food safari

Bhang Bhang! | A “High” experience in Ujjain!

Written by Poorna & Brinda

Bhang. The word itself smells of mysticism, spiritualism or just ecstasy. Use of Bhang is a well established practice among ascetics in India. It is also partaken as prasad of Lord Shiva who is considered as a formost ascetic himself.

Our first encounter with Bhang – Indian Cannabis – was when we traveled to Varanasi few years back. Bhang thandai in Varanasi is one of the “to do” things in Varanasi. We did go to the famous Kesar thandai shop very close to the Shiva temple but did not dare to experiment too much fearing the effects of it!

In fact, during the same trip, we had visited Ujjain but did not get time to explore the thandai. Last christmas during our long road trip to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, we happened to visit Ujjain. This time we did not want to miss out the Bhang experience!

After a quick darshan of Lord Mahakaleshwar the presiding deity of Ujjain temple, we looked for stall bearing the same name. The naming of the stall is an interesting coincidence as Lord Shiva being an ascetic is supposed to consume bhang. In fact, bhang is brought as offering to the lord at many places in North India. We asked a local guy on Mahakasleshwar Bhang Stall and he directed us to the place. Bang opposite the main entrance of the temple, it was an interesting place. A boy in twenties – may be the son of was making thandai. A group of people were waiting for their turn. It looked like most of them are locals and regulars. We four seems to be only people from outside.

Poorna asked the boy to make four thandais. It was interesting to see how the Bhang thandai is made. the boy’s hand moved swiftly and deftly to make thandai. This reminded us the way Blue Lassi was made in Varanasi.

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The signage of the shop

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The white cloth is tied to a bucket. This acts like a filter. Notice the milk kept in the bucket.

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The bhang powder is mixed with water and made into a thick dough. A thali containing tehse balls is always kept ready. The boy took a small ball for every cup ordered and put it in the cloth. Then he started rubbing it on the cloth while pouring milk on it at the same time.

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More milk and thandai which is flavoured with dry fruits, cardamom and saffron is poured into the filter and is mixed. The bhang now gets mixed with the milk.

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The “Bhang Thandai” is ready and is being poured into tall glasses.

We had actually asked him to reduce the quantity of Bhang in thandai. The thandai tasted very good. We joined a group of locals who raised the slogan in praise of Lord Bholenath and Lord Mahakaleshwar – names for Lord Shiva and emptied the glasses!

It was a good experience to partake the prasad of Lord Bholenath (Lord Shiva) in Ujjain, one of the oldest cities in the world!

Postscript – As we were drinking the thandai, we saw locals ask for balls of bhang. They just gulped it, drank water and left! When we asked the boy about it, he said the devotees of Shiva takes it as prasad everyday! We warn you not to do that! Bhang taken in high quantity will induce a high.

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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