For the homeless dogs in Ujjain, this priest is like a guardian angel who wants to see these animals well-fed. Meet Pandit Bharat Upadhyay who, for the past 25 years, has been doing rounds of the city and spending around four hours every night to feed biscuits to hundreds of street dogs.
His dedication and love for dogs has earned him a nickname of ‘Kutte wale Baba’.
The priest, who serves at the Ganesh temple in Mahakaal temple complex, can be seen feeding these dogs at the Ghats of Kshipra River or inside the lanes.
He feeds at least 500 to 600 dogs every day and spends around Rs 1,000 to buy the biscuits.
“I take out money from whatever donations I receive as a priest in the temple to buy the biscuits for the dogs,” he says.
Every night after completing the rituals at the temple, the Baba reaches Ram Ghat at around 11pm where several dogs surround him at once.
Starting from Mahakaal temple, every dog at Kshipra ghat, Gola Mandi, Kartik Chowk, Nayapura knows the Baba and recognizes the sound of his motorcycle and car.
“Mostly he whistles or claps and dogs come to him even from a kilometer,” said Rahul Bappa, a resident of Ujjain who frequents the ghats at Kshipra River.
“Dogs are considered as companions and mount of Bhairav – a manifestation of Lord Shiva -- and Ujjain is a place where one can attain ‘siddhi’ by worshiping Bhairav,” the Baba said.
The priest also provides medical help to the animals in need and organises respectful burials for them after their death.
“I take the dead animals to ‘shavak smashan’ and bury them as per rituals,” he said.
“We all respect him for his work and love for dogs. For us dogs are like God and ‘Kutte vale Baba’ cares for them. Each and every dog of our locality knows his voice and signals. He is like a saviour for the dogs of Ujjain,” said Rameshwar Singh, a resident of Ujjain.