Kshetra Mahuli (Part 1)

Krishna river

Some places are seen with heart and not just with eyes. Kshetra Mahuli is such a place very close to my heart. This is the native place of my grandmother and I always get the warmth of meeting her when I am there.

On the Main Satara highway, about 100kms from Pune you will reach a square.If you take a right turn you go to Satara city, a left turn here takes you to Mahuli. Kshetra Mahuli is located about 5 kms from the main highway.

Mahuli fields

Mahuli’s  references are found from the 15th century. In the court of Ramraje (Dev Rai) of Vijaynagar (Anegundi/Anegondi), there was a learned scholar. His name was Koya Prabhu. He used to tell primeval and legendary stories (Puran) to Ramraje. Once he narrated about the charm and grace of the river Krishna. He mentioned about its dense forests and the peaceful riverbanks.He described the calmness and blend of natural beauty.

Placid waters of Krishna river

Mahuli fields1

This created a strong desire in Ramraje to visit this place. When he visited it, he was simply mesmerized by the beauty of this place. Highly impressed with the work of Koya Prabhu,  Ramraje awarded this place to him. As per the procedure at that time Ramraje offered him a Copperplate (Tamrapat) and allocated all the related rights to him (Ashtadhikar). Now the descendants of Koya Prabhu are the people known as Prabhune, from Mahuli.

Pictureaque beauty at Mahuli fields

Later on, after the death of Aurangzeb, Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj’s son Shahu Maharaj was released. Shahu Maharaj made Satara his capital and Satara became the centre of main decisions and interactions. Many temples were built in the Peshwa era at that time on the banks of the river Krishna.

Various temples nearby Satara

Mahuli is situated on the confluence of Krishna and Venna river. On one bank of the river Kshetra Mahuli is located and on the other bank Sangam Mahuli.

Inside view of Dattamandir

In Kshetra Mahuli my ancestors built a Datta Mandir (Datta Temple) around 150 years ago. This Mandir is situated on the banks of Krishna river. It is a nice, simple temple with a black stone idol. As heard from my grandmother her ancestors found this idol in the Krishna river and installed it on the river banks by building a small temple.

Datta Idol1

Every year on Dattajayanti a two day celebration(utsav) takes place. There is Bhajan, Kirtan and the whole ambiance is pure and blessed.

Kirtan on the occassion of Datta Jayanti

The ancestral house at Kshetra Mahuli is now rebuilt and converted into Sanskrutik Bhawan(Cultural Hall) where important events/ ceremonies of the village take place.

ancestral house

Ancestral house

Sanskrutik Bhawan

Old house now transformed into Sanskrutik Bhawan(Cultural Hall)

On one side of the Datta Mandir there is Bilweshwar Temple.

Bilweshwar Mandir

Bilweshwar Temple

Bilveshwar Nandi 1

The story of Bilweshwar temple goes like this. There was a priest called Bilwamangal who used to stay in Kshetra Mahuli. He used to cross the river daily to visit Kashi Vishweshwar temple on the opposite banks (Sangam Mahuli) and offer Bilva patra or bel leaves. These are special type of leaves signifying the three gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). These are offered to lord Shiva. Once due to a flood, it was not possible for Bilwamangal to cross the river and he was very much upset that he couldn’t visit the temple and offer his prayers. In a sad mood he kept his basket of flowers and bel leaves on the soil and he found a Shivling there. He built a temple there which is now known as Bilweshwar.

Bilweshwar Mandir Nandi
This is a stone temple built in the Peshwa era. Artistically carved nandi idol is present at the entrance of this temple. In the sanctum there is a big tortoise carved on the floor.In the sanctum sanctorum Shivling is there. It is quite dark inside the temple. There is no window or any space for light to come inside this temple. Don’t you think it is done intentionally so that one can see the power of his/ her inner light (soul). This Shivling is regularly worshipped and the natives have also cleaned and painted the temple recently.

On the other hand of the Datta Mandir one can find the remains of Bundel wada. It is more popularly known as Mastani Buruj. Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa (I) (Thorale Bajirao Peshwe) was not allowed to meet Mastani. Shahu Maharaj had kept Mastani in this Bundelwada. He had issued strict instructions that no one will help Shrimant Bajirao Peshwe to meet Mastani. Bajirao Peshwe gave his diamond ring to a boatman and asked him to take him to the other bank of the river to meet Mastani. The remains of this structure still speak a lot about this part of history.

Mastani Buruj

Mastani Buruj

I got an interesting reference of Sambhaji Maharaj while reading the book Sambhaji (by Mr.Vishwas Patil) about this place. It was at this place that Sambhaji Maharaj crossed the river and joined with the Mughals on the other side.

This place has spacious river banks. During the day time one can see ladies washing clothes, villagers cleaning and washing their cattle and now a days they bring their cars and motorbikes for washing 🙂

Sapcious banks of Krishna River

I can spend hours sitting on the banks here. Especially the dusk is awesome. The placid water simply spells peace.

Krishna river banks

I wanted to write about this place as a tribute to my grandmother but when I started collecting more information about this place I was amazed to see the remarkable facts getting unfolded. I got an opportunity to talk to Mr. Bhagwan Aphale, an eminent teacher in Satara. As our discussion progressed, I realised that it had a great connection with history. These stories are no where on Google but on the tip of the natives tongues.

Many esteemed and renowned personalities are also associated with Kshetra Mahuli. Article on Kshetra Mahuli would be incomplete without Nyayamurti Ramshastri Prabhune (a famous judge ,who was well known for his justful and fair decisions in the court of Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwe) There are many interesting stories about other temples like Rameshwar temple, Radha Shankar temple, self-manifested Ganapati (Ganesh) on the banks of Krishna river, Kashi Vishweshwar at Sangam Mahuli, Krishnabai Utsav and many more. I will be covering all these stories in the next post.It will take you on a journey back in time. Do check next part of this series coming next week.

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Chatushrungi Temple

Chatushrungi Temple from outside

Chatushrungi Mandir is a picturesque temple situated on Senapati Bapat Road (S.B.Road), Pune. Unlike other temples in Pune this one has a vast area. It is located on a hilltop at about 90ft. height.Once you enter the temple premises you will see few shops selling Prasad, coconuts and flowers. Recently this temple has been renovated and decorated  so you would get to see a few nice statues on the way to the top.

Renovation and decoration at the temple

Renovation and Decoration of the premises

Statues inside the premises

Renovation and Decoration of the premises

This temple has 160 steps. Children would enjoy climbing the steps and elders too would find it easy as  they are not too steep.

160 steps to the temple

Steps to the temple

At about 50,60 steps there is Ganesh Temple. Before starting any sort of work we always take the blessings of Lord Ganesh. As per Hindu tradition  lord Ganesh is worshipped before any other deity.  This temple has red columns and the inner walls are painted with gracious designs of colourful leaves and flowers. In this temple Ashtavinayak idols (8 Sacred places of lord Ganesh)  are engraved on the walls in saffron colour.

After taking blessings of Ganapati one might proceed to the main temple. On the way to the main temple you will see different sitouts. The exquisite brick stone structures painted in pleasant pink red colour will make you stay there for some more time.

Nice Sitting place at Chatushrungi

Once you reach the temple you would see that the actual temple area is very small.  This Goddess is self-manifested (swayambhu). Money lender of Peshwas Mr.Durlabhshet was a great devotee of Saptashrungi devi. He found this idol at the hilltop and he started this temple. He had also started a Chatushrungi Rupee during those times. Currently the temple is looked after by Angal family.

Devi idol has been decorated with pearl nath(nose ornament), a crown and many necklaces. The temple is decorated with photos of different prominent goddesses.There is no permission to go inside the sanctum sanctorum so just outside it two idols have been kept ; one of brass and another of silver.You can offer haldi kumkum and flowers to these idols. During the Navratri festival this temple is extremely crowded and the long queues cross the spacious expanses of this temple and come out on the main Senapati Bapat road.

Renovation preserving nature

Renovation preserving nature

What makes this temple so special is that it is not just a divine and religious destination but it is a very clean place amidst the nature. The temple authorities plant trees here regularly and one can see various trees and birds in this area. We can get good view of Pune from top.

zigzag way leading through greenery

During one of our recent visits to this temple we got to see a kite plucking dry branches of small plants and taking it away to build a nest on a far away tree. It was an amazing thing to watch. We kept looking at it for several minutes.

champa tree

Temple view

This is a place where one can enjoy the song of nature and can inhale the freshness of air.
Visiting this temple daily could be a good exercise to get a healthy body and a peaceful mind.

Quick notes:

Location: Senapati Bapat Road(near Savitribai Phule Pune University), Pune

Timings: 6:30 AM to 8:00PM (On Tuesdays temple is open till 12 midnight)

Parking space : Available inside the premises

On your way back do eat at Durga snacks(located at the starting point of the temple) a wholesome plate of Upma and nice masala chai.

Bhuleshwar: Hidden Treasure

Light and shadow effect at Bhuleshwar

There is always something special about every visit, every trail, every moment and every experience. I visited Bhuleswar twice. First time it was with a group of trekkers and an expert historian and the next visit was with my family. Both the trips were magical and miraculous.

Location:

Bhuleshwar Temple is situated about 53 Kms from Pune and 10 Kms from Yawat. To visit this temple from Pune you need to catch the Pune Solapur Highway. Just before Yawat you will find Kamat hotel on the left hand side and Kanchan hotel on the right hand side if you are going from Pune. Take a right turn and follow the Malshiras road to reach Bhuleshwar temple. Be careful on the inner ghat road. On the way you would see Suhana Masala factory, Nishigandh and Custard Apple plantation, Dwarika Krishi sankalp etc. Take a right turn and you will reach an entrance arch saying Bhuleshwar Vana Udyan. This temple is situated on a hilltop. There are two very sharp turns before reaching the top. Be extremely careful.

On the way to Bhuleshwar

On the way to Bhuleshwar

Nature on the way

Nature on the way

History of this place:

Bhuleshwar temple was built in 1230 AD by Yadava rulers. It was deformed and destroyed by Mughal attackers. In 1629 Adilshahi Sardar Murar Jagdev destroyed and looted Pune completely and he literally deployed donkeys to plough the fields in Pune. He constructed a fort here which was known as DaulatMangal Gadh. He used it to keep a watch on Pune city from this fort. It is said that later Shivaji Maharaj and Peshwas did some restoration of this temple. One can still find some signs of earlier Muslim rule by looking at Eidgah (open air gathering place normally on the outskirts of the city).

Remains of Eidgah

Remains of Eidgah

Now Bhuleshwar temple comes under the Archaeological survey of India and is a protected monument.

Bhuleshwar Temple from outside

 

Once you reach the temple you won’t be able to guess from outside what the temple would be from inside. From outside it has an appearance like a mosque which reflects the social impact on the architecture of that era.

When you enter the temple premises from the first few steps the saga of magical carvings starts.

carvings at the entrance steps

Sculptures at the entrance steps

 

Normally Nandi idol is outside the Shiva temple but in this one you will find a big one inside the temple. It is huge and beautiful ornaments are carved on it.

Nandi idol

On the walls there are carvings from Ramayan, Mahabharat etc. The most prominent scenes like Draupadi Swayamwar, Mahabharat war, Shriram Bharat meeting, Kidnapping of Seeta by Ravan,Churning of the ocean etc.

Draupadi Swayamwar

Draupadi Swayamwar(Mahabharat)

 

Bheem fighting with elephants

Bheem fighting with elephants ( Mahabharat)

 

Bhishma on bed of arrows

Bhishma on bed of arrows , Pandavas sitting beside him

Ram and Bharat Meeting

Ram and Bharat Meeting (Ramayana)

 

Samudramanthan

Samudramanthan (Churning of the Ocean)

 

It also has Ganesh, Shankar and Vishnu in Female form.

 

Idols in female form

Idols of Ganesh, Shankar, Vishnu


Each pillar, each carving is unique. Even the borders of each carving are decorated with different designs. On pillars we saw different carvings of Bells, flowers and even inverted cobras (which was quite popular during 12 and 13th century)

 

Elephants on pillars

Elephants on the pillars

Ceiling carving at the entrance

Carvings

In the Pradakshina marg one would see a beautiful light and shadow effect. It gives an individuality to each and every sculpture.

Inside the temple

Bell, Cobra and flower design

Darpan Sundari

Darpan Sundari(Lady admiring herself in mirror)

There is a sculpture of group of artists playing various intruments like flute, Mridangam, Pakhwaj, Shehnai etc. One could understand that there was great recognition, appreciation and respect for art in different forms.

Musicians

Musicians

While we were appreciating the beauty of the sculptures it was causing immense pain to see deformed idols. What wonder the temple would have created if it was intact with all the carvings???

Deformed sculptures

Deformed sculptures

Once you enter the sanctum sanctorum the scene is completely different. All the materialistic emotions of life are displayed outside and once inside the temple there is not even a single carving denoting complete detachment and renunciation of the material world.

Shivling

 

There is also a story associated with this temple that if you offer a pack of Pedhas to this Shivling and keep that pack below the mask of Shiva at least one Pedhha disappears. It is said that many people have experienced this. We have not tried it so can’t comment anything about this.

This place is very much crowded during Mahashivratri and Shravani Somwar but on rest of the days very few people visit this temple. The care taker told us that they are getting different information from different sources. They are collecting it and planning to put a board outside for visitors to get some information.

If you climb down about 50 steps you will reach a water storage of ancient times. It is covered with rocks so water is stored there from many years and very less evaporation takes place. There is also a Shivling here. If you peep inside you will see different compartments of water. Those different compartments might have been used for different purposes like drinking, cleaning, washing clothes etc.

Water storage

It is a unique place where intricately carved sculptures will surely take your breath away. I would recommend that you make a complete one day trip to visit this place and study it in detail. Do take a powerful torch with you to admire the real grandeur of the carvings.

One would simply wonder at the marvelous piece of art the sculptors have created. They have infused life into the life less stones. It is a must visit for art lovers.

Nagkanya

Quick Notes:

Location: Near Yawat on Pune Solapur road about 53 Kms from Pune

Visiting hours : From 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Take care of the last two sharp turns and most important take a powerful torch with you to observe the sculptures in detail.

Do visit Kanchan hotel on your way back (On main highway). It is a beautiful place with innovative interior and earthen decor. Good place to have snacks.