About questraveler

I am a travel enthusiast. I love writing, expressing, reading. I enjoy music and dance. I am interested in temple architecture. I have the deep interest in the history of Peshwas, Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Maharaj.

5 Manache Ganapati of Pune City: Ganesh Festival

The Ganesh Festival has always held a special place in every Punekar’s heart. Though celebrated all across India and in some parts of the world, the Pune Ganesh Festival holds its own charm right from its beginning over a century ago.

The city of Pune, where Lokamanya Tilak started the Ganeshotsav in 1893, celebrates this festival with same vigour and energy even after 125 years.

5 Manache Ganapati: Let us have detailed look at the 5 Ganapati mandals or groups which get the honour of leading the Ganapati procession.

Kasba Ganapati: Kasba Ganapati is given the honour to lead the Ganesh festival procession.

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Decorated Ganesh Idol on Ganesh Chaturthi day

In 1893 when Lokamanya Tilak started  the Ganesh Festival for common people, there were only 3 groups (Mandals) taking part in the procession. The following year this increased to a large number of around 100 Mandals or groups.

Lokamanya Tilak offered the honour of first place to Kasba Ganapati.

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Rangoli decoration at the Kasba Ganapati Temple

Kasba Ganapati obtained an important stature in the history of Pune around 400 years ago.  When Jijabai came to Pune, she was notified of a Ganapati idol in a rough-cut form (not having any specific shape or size), which was found during ploughing a field. She decided to install it and build a temple around the same. One of the 8 families which came to Pune with Jijabai was the Thakar family. They were made the care takers of the temple. Today 16th generation of the same family looks after the Kasba Ganapati temple.

As per the information board near the entrance of  the temple, the temple construction took place around 1626AD.

The temple seems to be having two clear distinct parts, the main hall and the sanctum sanctorum. If one observes carefully, it is noticed that the temple is built on the ruins of some earlier temple of a different era.

During a recently held heritage walk, Mr. Anurag Vaidya of ‘FirastiMaharashtrachi’ pointed out this clear distinction in the building structure between the main hall and the sanctum sanctorum.

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The temple contains a wooden hall (sabhamandap) decorated with beautiful columns and houses a gallery on the upper floor. This structure typically outlines the style of the Peshwa era.

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The sanctum sanctorum is made in stone. On the pradakshina marg, one can see the typical lotus petal designs at the base which was a prominent design style for temples during reign of the Yadava rulers (around 12th or 13th century).

The Ganapati idol in this temple is now decorated with diamonds in its eyes and a ruby (Manik) in its navel. Whenever there is a marriage, thread ceremony or any other auspicious occasion in Pune households, the first invitation is given to Kasba Ganapati and prayers are offered to Lord Ganesh to help accomplish the rituals and tasks without any difficulties.

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The temple is closed from 12 noon to 4 pm. During the Ganesh Festival a huge pandal is erected in front of the main temple and a small Ganesh idol is brought in a palanquin with a grand procession. Accompanied by the playing of Dhol and Tashas, the idol is installed in this pandal with proper rituals. People flock to this place to see this idol and visit the main temple and to seek blessings. The main temple is also decorated with lights, rangolis and offers a majestic view. It is maintained by the Thakar family (considered to be 16th generation of Thakars) who were one of the 8 families which came to Pune along with Jijbai and young Shivaji.

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It is also recommended to visit this temple on other days than the Ganesh festival days as one gets to sit quietly inside the temple and experience and observe the idol and study the temple structure in a peaceful manner.

 

Manacha Dusra Ganapati: Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganapati:

This gets its second rank as the Tambadi Jogeshwari goddess is regarded as the deity of the town.

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This temple is one of the oldest temples built in the city around the year 1545 by Triyambak Bendre.

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Every year the idol is immersed and new idol is made. The Gulunjkar family makes the idol every year. It is the fourth generation of the Gulunjkar family which makes the idol
for the Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganpati.

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Guruji Talim Mandal:

Guruji Talim is situated on Laxmi road. This Mandal gets a good support from shop owners and cloth merchants located nearby.

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This mandal was started by Nanasaheb Kasgiwale, Bhiku Shinde, Shaikh Lalabhai, and Vastad Nalband in 1887 and was backed by a training centre for wrestlers called as Guruji Talim.
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Guruji Talim Ganapati idol is in Bal Ganesh form.

During the Hindu Muslim riots of 1893 this mandal played an important role in spreading the communal harmony. Hence this mandal was given the honour of the third place by Lokamanya Tilak in the procession.

 

Tulshibaug Ganapati Mandal:

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Tulshibaug Ganpati Mandal was started in 1901. The large idol which we see today is  the 15 feet fibreglass idol. It  was made in 1975 by D.S. Khatavkar. This Ganapati is considered as the 4th Manacha Ganapati. It is installed in the famous shoppers paradise of Pune ‘Tulshibaug’.

 

Kesari wada Ganpati:

Earlier, this Ganesh mandal festival was celebrated in the Vinchurkar wada and from 1902 it was shifted to Kesariwada (Gaikwad wada).

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Many cultural events are conducted during the Ganesh festival at Kesariwada. This Ganapati is given the fifth place in the world famous Ganpati immersion procession of Pune city.

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Pune,  the cultural capital of Maharashtra is visited by many people to witness this grand 10 day celebration of Ganesh Festival. Lord Ganesha is indeed the most revered and loved Hindu God. A source of lots of energy, happiness, joy and satisfaction.The God of all arts, the remover of all obstacles may bless everyone and let each one of us find the true happiness.

Do watch a detailed video about these five Ganesha on

Reference: Hindustan Times

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Khunya Murlidhar Temple

Pune city is well known for its rich heritage and its strong connection with history. Every nook and corner of the city speaks volumes about golden past. Every road in the main city area has a story to tell.

Adding to the curiosity are the temples in Pune with its uncommon names like Upashi
Vitohbha, Dulya Maruti, Patrya Maruti, Jilbya Maruti Mandir etc.
(Do check the link given at the bottom of the blog for additional info on this)

A closer look

The peak with its decorative

One of such strikingly different names to outsiders is Khunya Murlidhar temple. Murlidhar who with the soothing tones of his ‘Murli’ i.e. Flute has the power to calm the world, the Shrikrishna who played the important part of messenger of peace before the war of Mahabharat, the embodiment of ‘perfect man’, a political strategist who pledged not to use any weapon during the Mahabharat war,  how his temple got such a name?

This name ‘Khunya Murlidhar’  is basically given based on the events which took place in the temple.

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Temple Exterior View

 

History:

Sadashiv Gadre was one of the moneylenders in Second Bajirao Peshwa’s kingdom. Sadashiv Gadre built this temple in 1797 after he had a dream in which Murlidhar (Krishna) appeared in front of him and and instructed him to make the idols and build a temple in this place.

Gadre hired a sculptor named Bakhatram from Jaipur to make the beautiful idols. Peshwa Bajirao II happened to see these idols and liked them very much. He asked Dada Gadre to give him the idols, this demand was declined by Gadre and he asked the Khare family of Trimbakeshwar to worship the idols and install them in the temple overnight.

Accordingly, on 6 May 1797, Gadre shifted the idols from his home to this temple in the early morning and started the religious ceremony to install them here. Peshwa Bajirao came to know about this and sent a few British soldiers that were newly deployed in Pune to stop Gadre. But there was a defense in place as Gadre had deployed a few Arab soldiers that he had at his service to protect the temple.

Paintings and description on walls

Paintings and description on walls

While the religious ceremony was going on inside the temple, a battle raged outside between the British soldiers and the Arab defenders resulting in bloodshed and a number of deaths outside. As these murders (Khoon) happened outside, the temple got its name (Khunya) Murlidhar.

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The main Hall of Khunya Murlidhar

Enraged by this, the Peshwa imprisoned Sadashiv Gadre in jail in Ahmednagar and confiscated all his properties. Gadre was in jail for 23 years and Khare family took care of the temple and the daily worshiping of the idols during this time. For his dedicated work, Gadre decided to handover the temple management and its surrounding area to the Khare family, which they are doing till date and the seventh generation of the Khare family currently manages the temple. Khare Vaidya, (expert of Ayurveda) is well known in #Pune to provide a traditional medicine for jaundice which has cured over thousands of people over the past many decades.

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Other interesting facts:

Many other interesting stories are attached to this temple. Being a #Punekar by birth I have heard this story from many other natives. It is said that the Chaphekar brothers hatched the plan to assassinate Rand in this very temple. The brothers used to conduct secret meetings in the temple to plan the attack and assassination.

It is also said that a person staying close by, named Dravid, heard about this plan and tipped off the British about it which resulted in the capture and hanging of the Chaphekar brothers. It is also said that Dravid was also murdered later as revenge for passing on the information to Britishers.

 

 

The Temple architecture:  The temple consists of courtyard, main Hall and sanctum sanctorum. The main hall is decorated with beautiful wooden pillars and decorative chandeliers. One can see some beautiful pictures, paintings on the wall. The main sanctum sanctorum of the temple is built in black basalt rock and the hall around it is built using a wooden frame structure. This hall has excellent carvings on the walls and columns that depict the typical artwork popular during those time.

Paintings

 

The idol:
The idol of Shrikrishna is also unique and is seen standing on one leg and the support of the thumb of the other leg without any other support.The idol of Radha Krishna is carved out of white marble. In the temple do observe the Eagle which represents the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
Every Janmashtami this temple is decorated with beautiful flowers, garlands, rangoli and diyas. This Janmashtami make sure to visit this temple and experience the eternal magic of Shrikrishna.

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An interesting read:

One can read many interesting stories behind different names of temples in Pune on the following link.

View at Medium.com

Vishrambaugwada: A golden leaf in the architectural glory of the Peshwa era

The person who visits Pune never misses his visit to Tulshibaug. I somehow feel that Tulshibaug is more attractive to outsiders than the Punekars. I remember when my cousins used to come to Pune during their summer vacation they always wanted to find time to visit this place.

But somehow the architecturally attractive and somewhat mystical Vishrambaug Wada which is actually just across the road from this busy and bustling marketplace called Tulshibaug has not scored those many points on the list of the must-visit places.

Vishrambaug Wada

As seen from across the street

For me, this Wada has always held the old world charm. Earlier I was a bit hesitant to visit this place as I was not really sure if it is open to general visitors the way we visit Shaniwar Wada. Thanks to the different heritage tours held during the last 4,5 years such beautiful yet less-visited attractions in Pune have opened their doors to everyone.

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The wonderful windows of the hall

Associated with Bajirao the second, Vishrambaug Wada attracts visitors with its exquisite beauty and superior interior. As the story goes, this place was earlier a small park owned by Haripant Phadke.
After marrying his daughter with Bajirao Peshwa (II) this place was transferred to the Peshwa’s who renovated the existing structure and built a three-storied edifice.

The beautiful architecture stands even today still maintaining its charm.

Vishrambaug Wada is a very important historical building standing on the Bajirao Road in the heart of Pune. Bajirao II was not ready to stay in Shaniwar Wada due to earlier bad incidences and he was scared to go and stay there. He built his own lavish Palace. It is said that this Bajirao II was prodigal and used resources and money extravagantly. Another story famous about this is about a dancer named Venkat Narsi who made a record of dancing here for 36 hours non-stop.

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Delicate wooden carvings on the columns

Vishrambaugwada was built in the year 1807. Excellent use of teak wood with attractive carvings have added to its beauty. Even today when you see the East facing teak wood canopy and the carving of crocodiles on it, it still captures our attention.  The main attraction is the fountain in the centre of the main square.

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Fountain at Vishrambaugwada

There is a  big hall on the first floor which has many artillery equipment of the Peshwa era on display. This hall has well-decorated columns and beautiful lampshades. Various antiques, pictures and scriptures are kept on display in the hall which will surely give you a glimpse of the glory of Peshwas and the Maratha empire. During our visit to this place a few years ago,  we got to see a drama practice based on the life of  Shivaji Maharaj. That experience almost took us back in time.

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Hall(Diwankhana) on the top floor

There is a permanent exhibition in this place called ‘Punawadi te Punyanagari’ which is also a must-see.

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Spacious Corridors of Vishrambaugwada

After the Peshwa era in 1818, it went into the hands of the British. This beautiful mansion is in the heart of the city. It is better to visit it by public transport like auto or bus since it is very difficult to find a parking place near-by for private vehicles.

Vishrambaugwada as the evening sets in

Quick Facts:

Visiting hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (closed on Monday)

Entry fees: There is no entry fee to visit this historical monument.

Parking: Is a challenge due to the extremely busy roads around this place. The Best mode is to take an auto or come to the nearest bus stop known as Shanipar – (more about this place in some other blog)

Fountain

The main attraction in the centre of the building

**Don’t forget to eat Bhel(a savoury snack) at ‘Pushkarni Bhel’ and do taste some delicious snacks at Sweet Home snacks centre, both these places are situated just opposite Vishrambaugwada. Of course, the most famous Chitale Sweets shop( diagonally opposite to Vishrambaugwada) is not to be missed

Ram Mandir at Chaphal (A Peaceful Getaway)

Sometimes you travel for pleasure, sometimes for religious reasons, sometimes you do it to have a great family outing. Reasons could be varied but at the bottom of all reasons lies one truth: you are looking for satisfaction and peace.  Do you get it when you stay at a five-star hotel or when you visit a hot and happening destination and share each and every pic from each angle?

For some people, it might bring happiness but for most of us, it does not.

In the midst of all these travel destinations like hill stations, amusements parks, beaches and resorts, there are a few places which are sacred, which have gained purity with the stay of great people and saints and that has an impact on the terrain. One such place is Chaphal which situated near Satara city in Maharashtra.

It is a simple, peaceful Ashram of Samarth Ramdas Swami. In fact, All Samarth Ramdas math or ashrams are always clean and neat and of course simple(check out  Shivtharghal – A cave of wisdom    It was on my mind to write about Chaphal for many days. I had visited it many years ago but still remembered the cave and the tranquil stay at clean and simple Bhakta Niwas (rooms provided to devotees to stay for few days at a nominal charge or even for free). Even as a child I used to sit near the window soaking the calmness for many hours; these places truly bring out the inner peace in most of us. So I was really looking forward to this trip and a profound experience again.

To Reach Chaphal from Pune you can take Pune-Bangalore Highway. Chaphal is situated in Patan taluka. On the highway, you can take a right turn at Umbraj. We were lucky as we were travelling by our own vehicle because we were forced to stop by bright Gulmohar and other trees with their full Spring blossom.
We could not resist ourselves from taking pictures all along the way.

On the way to Chaphal
Since we had taken a halt at Satara the earlier day we had started pretty early and we did not mind spending time with our best friend: Nature.

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The road quality was excellent and the overall travel was very smooth and enjoyable.

Once we enter the Ram Mandir premises at Chaphal,  on the left-hand side we see one old temple of Hanuman. It is one of the 11 Hanuman temples. ‘Veer Hanuman’ and ‘Das Hanuman’ are located on the same premises as the Ram Mandir whereas ‘Khadicha Maruti’ is located some distance away towards the west. On the right-hand side, you just have to climb a few steps to reach the temple. They have also kept a road for taking wheelchair up.

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After entering you see a beautiful Ram Mandir (temple of Lord Ram) built in the white stone.  All walls of the temple are designed with intricate sculptures. Even inside the temple, the ceiling is full of beautiful carvings.

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After entering the temple other than the three beautiful idols of Shree Ram, Sita, and, Laxman you will also see one black stone idol of Shree Ram with Laxman and Sita on either side. This is the original idol which Samarth Ramdas got from Angapur. He installed it here in 1649 and constructed a small temple around it.

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In 1967 major earthquake shook Koyana Nagar and the surroundings. This temple was also damaged. The trustees like Sardar Bhimrao Patankar, Dattopant Paranjape came immediately for the rescue. Businessman of Mumbai Mr.Mafatlal offered help. He helped to reconstruct the temple. The white stone was brought from Vadodara and a beautiful temple was constructed which we see today.

Mysterious Cave:
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There is a beautiful underground cave where Ramdas swami used to meditate. We can go down to the first room easily. You would feel a cool effect immediately once you reach this room. It was really tough to believe the temperature outside was almost 40 degrees. All components of  Nature even stones are always blissfully comforting us. This amazing cave also has other interconnected rooms. Only people with a very slender and flexible body can enter there.

Cave at Chaphal

Cave at Chaphal

I remember my grandmother telling me that in the last room God Hanuman (who is immortal as per the Hindu Mythology)  is still sitting and meditating.

Celebrations at Chaphal:
From the first day of Hindu New Year i.e. Gudhipadwa till Chaitra Shuddha Ekadashi festival takes place at this temple. We missed the opportunity to witness this ceremony just by a few days when we visited this place last year.

 

From the premises of the temple, you can see a breathtaking view of Mand river and especially in the Monsoon season the whole surroundings wear a green attire which is just a visual treat.

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Another Historical Attraction on the way: Bara Motechi Vihir at Limb, Satara
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We also visited a historical well (Bara Motechi Vihir) on the way just before Satara. It was a welcome addition to the trip. Check out a video to get details of this well here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjhNjeXezhk&t=58s

P.S.
Photography is not allowed inside the Chaphal Ram Mandir and we believe in abiding by the rules strictly. So, we can’t bring you the photos of idols and the inside view of the temple but I am sure after reading this article you must have made up your mind to visit this place personally and experience it by your self.

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Quick facts to remember:

Distance from Pune: 155 KM
Toll charges: Rs.90/- at Khed Shivapur and Rs.60/- at Anewadi
Food: Simple snacks and meal available just outside the premises.
Temple remains closed from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM and from 9:30 PM to 4:30 AM

 

 

 

 

Questraveler enters 3rd year.

Today on 25th January 2018, questraveler enters 3rd year. Initially, I started this blog to quench my thirst for sharing, writing, expressing and exploring.

I started writing with full energy and enthusiasm and kept the target of writing at least once a week and that too with the focus on writing about the areas in and around Pune. Slowly my canvas became wide and I started writing about the places in the other cities and countries as well. But there was always one unwritten rule. I write about the places I visit personally and it is not taken from or based on someone else’s experiences. All the places are visited, experienced, photographed personally. All the photos are captured by me and my husband ( He is an amazing photographer). Some write-ups are based on the recent visits but few them are also a recollection of memories Whereas some places like Kshetra Mahuli, Pataleshwar etc. I keep visiting every year or every alternate year to make me richer, content and satisfied.

There are so many places like Hyderabad, Mysore, Banglore, Mahabaleshwar, Fatehpur Sikri, Indore, Ujjain, Mahoo, Elephanta caves, Shaniwar Wada, Vishrambaug Wada etc.  which I have visited but before writing I would like to understand the history of the place, the architecture prominent in that area, the various dynasties which ruled these places. Then and only then I would be able to justice to my write up. In the year 2018, you can expect all these write-ups plus few more places which are on my must-visit list.
There are also some fun write-ups coming up which can give you an account of famous parks in Pune, Famous historic places in Pune, top ten spots in Pune to spend your weekend etc. So do stay tuned.

I wish all the readers a Happy New Year. You may visit newer places, reach and explore newer destinations and gather more experiences and amazing memories of your journey……

……………… The quest continues. The traveller is hungry and fond of walking. Let us begin this new year with newer and offbeat places to visit, feel and experience together.

Bhimashankar – The Weekend Getaway: Part Two

We returned to the resort to the warm welcome by Bush. He was resting in his usual place, near the main hotel reception, in the shade by a pot of water. On seeing me get down from the car and go to the reception to enquire about lunch, he quickly got up and came over, as if to greet me again.

We ordered a quick lunch and went back to the cottage to get fresh and be ready for another wonderful afternoon and evening at the beautiful resort.

 

Lunch was quick as we were really hungry and an afternoon siesta gave us the much-needed booster charge to enjoy the evening.

The photographer in me was not idle and I kept on my click clicking all around the place. Equipped with a 55-250 telephoto lens, I hoped to catch some cool photos of birds or some squirrels or rabbits or a snake if I was lucky. I did get some wonderful shots as the evening sun provided the best natural lighting and highlighted almost every subject perfectly.

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As sunset edged close, we became aware of an unusual chill in the air. I guess it was the last chilly nights of the winter season. I was glad we had packed jackets and sweaters for everyone as the night further went on to be really cold. It was a full moon night and we realized this when the shiny orb of the moon appeared on the eastern horizon over the distant mountains. We were in such a strategic location on this plateau that there was nothing to obstruct the view of the sun, as well as the moon, rise all the way until they set in the western sky. I made a mental note of making sure I will book in advance here if ever in the future there is a total lunar or solar eclipse and this place lies in the path of the eclipse. With the tripod and the newly acquired camera, I did my job of taking as many pics of the moon as best as I could. All the while, Bush was with me. He would accompany me everywhere and just settle down or lie down somewhere close by as I went about doing my work setting up the tripod etc. I felt a sense of security as, like a faithful guard, he would surely warn me if there was anything dangerous anywhere. Thankfully, he did not have to as we had the almost perfect and safe stay at this resort.

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Spending two nights at this resort were the most memorable ones we had as a family and we enjoyed the food as well as the ambiance and the most important, fresh air and a wonderful time spent here.

The dinner was a buffet with a good spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We enjoyed the tomato soup and the pithla bhakri as well as a few typical chicken preparations. After having a sumptuous dinner and an equally satisfying dessert, we decided to call it a day and went back to our cottage. By this time, we were used to Bush accompanying us and we were a bit concerned when we did not see him when we stepped out of the restaurant building. But it was only for a minute or two, as he must have caught our scent and came along from wherever he was. He joined us from behind and then walked a few paces ahead of us right up to our cottage. Here he came over the verandah and spread himself there like a royal being guarding our entrance. We fed him a few good day biscuits which he had promptly. Earlier, I had asked for details about the two dogs at the reception and they told me that he is used to eating a full chicken as a meal every day. He has it at 9 pm and then does not eat anything else, maybe just some water. However, he was glad to have the biscuits we offered and I even dared to feed him right from my hand.

We then got inside the room and kept watching him from a window. He was sitting there looking at nothing in particular as if guarding the cottage. His ears would twitch a bit in the direction of some noises he heard. Some sounded like an owl or a nocturnal bird or a rat. Some we did not even hear, but his sharp ears picked them up.

It was pretty late and we switched off the lights to retire for the day. Sleep was blissful and easy to come as we had walked a long walk and had a good meal. The next morning, we had to check out and return to our daily schedules. When I woke up and checked out if Bush still sat there the whole night, I found him missing. The last biscuit that we had offered him was still there. Maybe he wanted us to feed it to him by hand or he was not hungry at all.

After the morning regime and the tea to refresh us, we packed up to check out. Completing the formalities and payments we bid a final good bye for the time being to the resort, to Bush, to Basanti and to the Blue Mormon as well.

Beautiful_Dam

The journey back was marked by stops to take photos at a picturesque ghat which overlooked a very beautiful dam. I was simply amazed to see the vastness and the ruggedness of nature and could not help but notice – it is the same nature that created the beautiful and delicate flower that I photographed and also created the huge and rugged mountain and the trees that grow on its slopes. No one waters them or takes care of them, yet they grow in this tough terrain. They are giving us a message – to stay tough and have a fighting spirit to overcome difficulties.

Reflecting on this and getting reminded of how minuscule we are in terms of nature and the big mountains and valleys and the wilderness, we continued on our journey home. Stopping on the way for a short lunch and reaching home on time for the evening tea.

We promised ourselves to revisit this wonderful resort and spend more time close to nature and in its laps, while still enjoying the safety and comfort of the cottages and of course the companionship of Bush and Basanti.

Not a week has passed since this visit that we remember Bush and ask each other, what he might be doing at this time.

Sunrise

A beautiful morning, a wonderful dawn. Can’t wait for the next travel in this quest to discover amazing places and beautiful things to capture in the camera.

Quick 2-day trip to make your weekend memorable – Bhimashankar

Bhimashankar Part 1…

The end of winter in the Indian subcontinent is traditionally marked by the full moon night that occurs somewhere in the middle of March. In the Hindu calendar, it is the Holi Pournima (the burning of the demon Holika) the triumph of good over evil, the burning of bad things and the expectation of good things. It also marks the beginning of harvesting season in many states in India. And, as with any working professional, it also signifies a holiday from work. This year, the much awaited and wanted holiday came adjacent to a weekend.

Since the whole family had a holiday on this Holi day, we naturally headed outdoors. This time we booked a cottage at a resort in the famous forest reserve hill station called Bhimashankar, a place which is famous amongst many trekkers and adventurers in Maharashtra and beyond. The temple of Lord Shiva at Bhimashankar is well known.

A brief research on the Internet gave us options to stay. We had narrowed down to a couple of them. But the Blue Mormon was also recommended by a close acquaintance. We called them and booked our cottage for 3 days and 2 nights. The charges were not very high.

BlueMormon_Resort

We took the Nashik road from Pune till Rajgurunagar and then took a left road to go to Bhimashankar. This is a very beautiful road and winds through some scenic mountains and the backwaters of the Chas Kaman dam. We saw wonderful shades of blue and green in the water during our drive. The road is a bit bumpy and pot holed at places so we could not speed up. But no one was complaining as we had the beautiful scenery and the great views to keep us company. We also had to cross some ghat section and as we neared the Blue Mormon hill resort, we noticed the drop in the temperature. This was almost like a guarantee that we were going to enjoy our stay and our picnic.

Having some breakfast on the way at one of the small hotels, we continued our journey, sometimes stopping for photos or sometimes just to watch the view. The Blue Mormon is slightly off the road – around 2 km from the state highway. Rest assured the road is fully motorable, though quite narrow. On reaching and finishing the check-in formalities, we were shown our independent cottage with a car parking available just outside the gate. I had noticed a beautiful and healthy looking German Shephard as we checked in. Little was I aware at that time that he would be one of the most memorable things about our trip to Bhimashankar.

Bush

We refreshed ourselves and were ready to have our late lunch. We ordered and decided to take a short look around the resort. It is big and is spread over a tableland. With huts and bungalows spaced all over, but with sufficient privacy for the guests. I had my camera and went off clicking. As I checked my camera later, we had clicked around 350 photos here. Almost a 100 each day

After a good lunch, we were just lazing on the traditional rope wired bed called as Khat in the lawns waiting for the sun to go down a bit so that we could move around more freely to explore the resort hotel further.  As we sat here, I had the first up close encounter with Bush, the German Shepherd; as my kids were busy with the trampoline, I stood up keeping one eye on the kids and the other on views and photo opportunities. He came close and as if checking me out, had a quick sniff at my hand and my foot. I let him do it and immediately realised that he was an extremely friendly and playful 6 years old ‘pup’. There was another dog sitting close by who did not bother to check anyone out. We later came to know this was Basanti, the other dog of the resort. I petted Bush a bit and continued on my photography. Bush would follow me around the resort while I took the photos. He would simply come with me and sit down while I did my stuff. I did not really think anything about this on our first day.

Our cottage was a very short distance from the main check in counter and the restaurant and it was best to explore on foot. The resort has a lot of greenery and some dedicated flower beds which had roses and lilies and a few others. The entire resort is easily accessible on foot and does not take more than 10 minutes to go from one end to the other.

Internal_roads_in_the_resort

We asked for directions to go to the temple the following morning and also asked the supervisor to arrange for a guide to take us around the next morning. Another thing to note about this resort is that there is no mobile network coverage and they do not accept any cards. Please carry cash. (I know it can be risky, but that is how they accept payment)

A quick chat with the manager and a few employees suggested that we could explore the area on our own. We still were hoping to go with the guide as we wanted to venture into the forest as much as possible so as to get the feeling of a jungle trek.

The next morning, we expected the guide to show up at 6:30 am sharp and were ready by that time. When I went to the resort office to ask them for the morning tea before we left on our jungle trek, Bush and Basanti both came out barking and I was really scared to see two charging dogs. But this was just momentary, both recognised me right away and their manner of approaching me changed the moment they sniffed and confirmed that I was a friend they had met the previous evening. Basanti went off on her way but Bush kept on with me. He actually came back with me to our cottage and sat outside in the verandah; he looked royal in the way he sat.

The guide did not turn up. But we were glad since the night had become so cold on that plateau that the kids, wrapped in the warm blankets, did not stir till 8:30 am. We, however, got up, had our customary walk around the resort looking for birds and flowers and interesting views to photograph.

Flowers_in_Bloom

 

We then went to the temple. On our way, we were hoping to have a true jungle feel and also catch a glimpse or two of the giant squirrel – the state animal of Maharashtra. On a particular turning of the road, we stopped the car to get some photos of the greenery around the valley. That’s when I noticed a stir on some branches above. We saw the squirrel jump from a branch to another and go down into the valley.

Giant_Squirrel

But before he disappeared, he did give us a few poses and we were able to catch those in the camera frame. A few simians were also there to welcome us and gladly took whatever food we offered. The typical scene of a baby monkey clinging to the mother’s belly was adorable and we tried to offer this particular mother some food as well.

Monkey_business

We got along our road and reached the temple parking lot; which is nothing but the local bus stand that also runs a pay and park.

The way to the main temple is covered by a wooden ceiling for most of the pathway. They also have the customary shops selling toys, sweets, and other paraphernalia that can be expected near any of our temples.

Shop_lined_pathway

We had a VIP style darshan of Lord Shankar as the guy who was regulating the crowd and the queue was probably on his break and we could enter the main sanctum directly. On coming out we saw that the guy was back and there was a decent queue. We were not complaining!

Bhimashankar_Temple

 

We enquired with the local shopkeepers about the trek and jungle pathway to walk around. We were told about two more temples and were shown the way. We took the necessary permissions and the tickets to enter the reserved forest and after confirming with the guard that it was safe to go with kids, we began our 4 km walk on the trail. It was hot and sunny and we were exhausted walking, but the trees and the small butterflies kept our spirits high and we walked till we reached a Ganpati temple where we met two middle-aged gentlemen who hailed from South India. They were chanting some wonderful mantras in their language. Though we did not understand anything, the tune and the overall atmosphere was so religious that we wanted to stay there longer. There was another temple but since we were really tired we decided to head back to the parking lot.

We returned enjoying the greenery and sometimes dense forest and large boulders; clicking photos on the way.

Honestly, we did not even miss the guide at all.

The path through the reserve

On the way back, we enjoyed the drive again and kept looking for the giant squirrel, but I guess his appearance in the day was done and he had retreated to his safe haven, somewhere below in the valley.

To be continued……

 

 

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial and Museum

Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum

Situated on the Senapati Bapat road in Pune, Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial and museum does catch your sight due to its dome shaped structure partially hidden in the lush green trees. I was a bit hesitant earlier to visit this place as I was under the impression that it is not open to public, it is only for VVIPs or some special visits of ministers or it is only for symbiosis society etc. But what a fool I was. It was the museum of a social reformer, the person who fought for equal rights for all human beings.

Entrance.JPG

Just diagonally opposite to the Balbharati building this memorial and museum of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is located. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a great scholar, writer, a powerful speaker, an economist and above all the father of Indian Constitution.

Internal view of Dr.Ambedkar memorial

Dr.B. R. Ambedkar was born to Bhimabai and Ramji on 14 April 1891 in Mhow Army Cantonment. His father Subhedar Ramji Sankpal retired from army in 1894 and shifted to Satara. After spending few years in Satara,  they shifted to Mumbai for better education of Children. Dr. Ambedkar passed matriculation in 1907. He was the first untouchable to pass matriculation. He completed his B.A from Elphinstone college, Bombay. He went to Columbia University, USA to study M.A. Economics by using his scholarship funds provided by the King of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaikwad. Along with M.A. Economics, he was also awarded doctorate in Philosophy in 1916. He went to London to complete M.S. and Bar at Law. After returning to India he worked against caste discrimination.

display of important events in Dr.Ambedkar's life.JPG

In this museum, through a beautiful display of photos and information, life story of Dr. Ambedkar is presented in neatly manner.

Personal Belongings.jpg

No one can ever forget his famous satyagraha at Chavadar Tale (Lake). Babasaheb Ambedkar stated that a life-giving commodity like water cannot be a privilege of select class. No one can deny it to others. Dr. Ambedkar formed Samta Samaj Sangha on 4th September 1920. On 19th March 1927 Dr. Ambedkar with his other associates like Anandrao Chitre, Shri Bapu Sahastrabudhe, Shri Gaikwad, Shri More etc. gathered on the banks of Chavadar lake and drank a handlful of water from the lake. There is a picture and information about this incidence displayed in the museum.

Photo and information gallery.JPG

His personal belongings have been very well preserved and displayed. One would get to see his clothes, old suit cases, his bed, his table and chair where he wrote constitution of India, his utensils, dinning table, his collection of books, a silver-ink pot which was gifted by Lord Mount batten (Governor of India before freedom).

Belongings of Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

There is also a statue of Gautam Buddha where he bowed each day, India’s highest civil award Bharat Ratna which was given posthumously to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Bharatratna award of Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

Even Dr. Ambedkar’s study room has been replicated With his statue sitting at the writing table.

Study room_Dr.Ambedkar.JPG

Dr. Ambedkar had purchased violin in Delhi and Sathe brothers from Mumbai used to come there to teach him violin.

Dr.Ambedkar's violin.JPG

Outside the museum many trees are planted by famous politicians. One of the trees is a direct descendant of the Bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. It is planted by Maisaheb Ambedkar.

Bodhi Tree descendant plant.JPG

There is also an open air theater where various programs take place. The surroundings of the museum are soothing and calm.

This museum is adjacent to Hanuman tekadi and they have made a small open air study with benches and desks. There were so many youngsters sitting there and studying peacefully. It was a rare sight to have so many youngsters around but no noise at all.:-)

Peaceful and green surroundings.jpg

Dr. Ambedkar  was exponent of Dhamma Chakra. He was very much concerned about the upliftment of untouchables. He also guided them on the path of progress and development.

Do plan your visit and get to know more details about this architect of India’s constitution. It would be a small tour in the important era of India’s history. I would recommend all the parents to take their kids to this place. It is easier to learn history by looking at the various artifacts, seeing the photos and reading the details than just reading it and mugging it up from the history text book. Not just history but other subjects especially science would be understood better when you feel it, do it yourself then you understand it in better manner. So, do visit this museum and enjoy the feeling of tracking through some pages of history.

Dr.Ambedkar memorial.JPG

It is important to note that such figures such as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar are national or even international figures. So it is not right to associate them with any particular caste or religion. They are the true inspirations of all individuals.

Quick notes:
Easy to reach by bus, auto or own vehicle,
Parking space is available inside the museum main gate
Photography is allowed with additional charge of rs.50
Timings 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

If the management could do a Small audio visual documentary,  it would give a good idea of his work and would generate more interest in people to see the things with a keen eye.

Top Ten Places To Visit In Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is an easy to reach destination as it is just 5 hours by air from Mumbai and well connected by flights from the other prominent cities of India.The Visa is available on arrival. You will have to fill up a form, attach required documents and photos and stand in a queue for approximately 1 hour and complete the procedure.

So, if you are planning your first foreign trip this would be an ideal destination, a happening place and interesting one for all age groups. It is good for back packers or for visiting with a group of friends or with family members.

A view from Hotel room

A view from Hotel room


Number 10: Safari  World:
Here you get to see various animals right from zebra, giraffe, hippo, kangaroo, orangutan, tiger, leopards.

Kangaroo at safari world

Kangaroo at safari world

Basically, most of the animals which are there in nature currently. Along with the tickets, food is also provided through lunch coupons which is not at all of good quality but just to fill your stomach after walking through this big park area on a hot sunny day. The worst thing here is they let you fondle and feed the baby tigers with milk bottles,  plus they charge you for doing this. Being animal lovers we did not appreciate this at all – detaching the baby from its mother.

Instead we would recommend you to take a small bus ride which they arrange for a some nominal amount. There you can get a closer look at tigers, zebras, hippos, giraffe etc.

Giraffe_Safari_World

Giraffe_Safari_World

They have made a wonderful replica of floating market at Safari world.

Floating market replica_Safari world

Floating market replica_Safari world


Number 9: Marine Park
: It is basically in the same premises as of Safari world. You can also get to see sea lion and dolphin show. It is usually too crowded and really difficult to get a proper place to sit over there.

Marine Park_Dolphin show

Marine Park_Dolphin show


Number 8: Thai Massage:
Thai massage is also very well known and if you are not willing to go for a complete body massage you may opt for just aroma foot massage which is equally relaxing.They also have small massage parlours across the road where it is provided for a reasonable price of 100 Baht (INR 200). Most of the hotels also provide these services.

Number 7: Night shopping at Palladium mall
It was a great experience doing street shopping. The roadside footpaths were full of amazing articles right from true working cell phones to toy phones. There were toys, purses, clothes, footwear, you name it and they have it.

Nightmarket outside Palladium mall

Night market outside Palladium mall

It was great fun to buy such variety at equally good price.

scented soaps at Palladium mall

scented soaps at Palladium mall


Number 6: Indra mall :
This is an A/C shopping mall located on the main street. It is full of variety of shops.This mall is dominated by Lady shopkeepers.

I remember a Thai lady singing Hindi songs while sitting in her shop. Most of the lady shopkeepers use Hindi words to attract customers and to connect with them. We were very much amused and pleased by the use of our language. But soon we started hearing all familiar languages like Hindi, Marathi, Gujrathi, Punjabi etc as the people who had come there to shop, 90% of them were Indians. Isn’t it amazing that back in our country we are always Marathi,Tamil, Rajasthani etc. and suddenly in a foreign country we feel so much connected. Indra mall   has various shops full of souvenirs, T-shirts, tops, jewellery, electronic items.

Indra Mall_Jewellery shops

Indra Mall_Jewellery shops

Clothes are of real good quality costing as low as Rs.100 (50 Baht). We got one beautiful silk scarf for just Rs.70 but when we decided to go back to that lady and buy some more pieces as we had realized that it was of awesome quality, but that lady had sold all the scarfs and closed her shop and gone away. So there is no fix timing for all shops as such overall mall timing is 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We also bought some beautiful mirrors, fridge magnets. It was real fun.

On the top floor there is a food mall (with very limited veg options). We tasted there veg Momos and concluded that our Indian style Momos taste much better.

Indra mall

Indra mall

Number 5 : Royal Palace, Wat pho and Wat Arun:


Royal palace is huge and you can even take a tuk-tuk ride from your hotel to this place which is pretty economical, only thing is they drive too fast but don’t provide seat belts. Tuk -tuk is a big autorikshaw.

Marching at Royal Palace

Marching at Royal Palace

In the Royal palace you will also get to see emerald Buddha. It is a small emerald idol. Make sure you wear full length clothes while visiting royal palace and the other temples (shoulders and knees should be covered). Royal palace is a huge place to explore and always very crowded.

Royal palace_1

Royal palace_1

Do take a map with you which they provide free of cost at the entrance.

Just few minutes walk from Royal palace is Wat Pho. This temple has golden reclining Buddha which is a must see.

Golden Reclining Buddha_Wat Pho

Golden Reclining Buddha_Wat Pho

You can take out your footwear and keep it inside a bag and then enter the temple. Good thing about it is that they provide you bags at the entrance. We were stunned to see such a big idol in reclining position.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

 

Wat Arun (Temple of dawn) can be reached by taking a ferry boat ride. We were not able to visit it though it is a must on your trip to Bangkok.

WAT_pho

WAT_pho

Number 4: Lumpini Park:

Age no bar for visiting this place. It is well connected with underground metros. We reached at this park within 10 minutes. Metro is excellent alternative to cabs. Cabs take lot of time and since there is huge traffic on Bangkok roads, one can expect heavy expenditure of money. So best option to reach this place is to take a metro train.

This park is huge. There are plenty of outdoor machine gyms. You will get to see people from different age group enjoying exercises at this place. There are morning aerobic sessions as well. People from all age group make rhythmic movements on soft music.

Lumpini Park _Outdoor Gym

Lumpini Park _Outdoor Gym

There is a huge lake at the centre of this park. Be careful and don’t go very near to the lake as there are many Asian water monitor lizards (second largest lizard species next to komodo dragons) in this lake.

Lumpini Park Lake_Komodo Dragons

Lumpini Park Lake_Huge lizards


Number 3: Sea world is located in the basement of Siam Paragon mall
.

Variety of marine life

Variety of marine life

The best thing about this Sea World is though it is huge, it is underground so you are completely protected from bright sun and can enjoy this marine diversity to its fullest.

Sea_world

Sea_world

You can see variety of frogs, sea horse,jelly fish, sting -ray, Octopus, alligator pipe fish, trumpet fish etc.

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

They have kept a small section for penguins as well. You will get to observe penguins from close.

Penguin

Penguin_sea world

The Siam Paragon mall is huge and it also has a lot of eateries and many restaurants on all the floors. Exploring the various shops there, we came across a stall selling ice cream. Being experimental, we decided to try the charcoal flavor ice cream and it completely deceived us. First time in our life, we had to forcefully finish an ice cream as it was really expensive :-). Keep a look out for a flash mob as the employees of this mall may surprise the visitors with flash mobs on popular numbers.


Number 2: Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum:
This is a must watch and you should spend plenty of time here as you can click a photos with Einstein, can stand next to Lady Diana and wear Queen Elizabeth’s robes and sit on the throne as well. It also has wax statues of prominent Indian figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Narendra Modi etc.

Wax statue of Einstein at Madame Tussads museum

Wax statue of Einstein at Madame Tussaud’s museum

They have made the entire museum very interactive e.g. there is a jigsaw puzzle, pull over drawers which give you information, standing next to Obama you can actually read a speech and entire available audience can hear it. One would get a feeling of being a celebrity in this. Don’t just rush through different statues. Admire each one, read the displays and information to understand the personality, it will be more fun.

Wax statue of Pablo Picasso at Madame Tussads Wax museum

Wax statue of Pablo Picasso at Madame Tussaud’s Wax museum

If you are interested you can learn to make a wax mold of your hand (at an extra charge) we did not do it as we found it pretty expensive. They is also a 4 D show which we found quiet amusing. You can take a combined ticket of Sea world and Madame Tussaud’s which comes cheaper.You can buy this ticket directly at the counter of sea world.

 

Number 1: Siam Niramit show: This is a super grand show consisting of around 300 men and women plus few animals and birds. It has amazing stage set ups. Dancers show wonderful dances, amazing acrobatics plus an entertaining comic skit during the interval. When they brought a huge elephant inside the auditorium to give the actual feel it reminded me of our own Janata Raja (a famous play by Babasaheb Purandare based on the life of Shivaji Maharaj) which involved bringing actual horses on the play ground. This program takes place in huge auditorium which has capacity of about 1500 seats. Stage setup is awesome. History of Bangkok is shown through this show. At the entrance, a lot of people in traditional attire encourage you to take pictures with them. At first we thought this was included in the ticket but at the end of the show, we realized that they sell these photos at 200 Baht (INR 400) or so – it is very good idea to promote tourism.

Siam Nirmit Show

Siam Niramit Show

You may simply take pics using your cell phone after the show.

Over all, language is a big problem as we faced difficulties in explaining our destinations and locations to the taxi drivers and there was one very enterprising taxi driver who tried to use his smart phone to translate what he wanted to say in to English.

Our communication also created very funny moments when we asked one person how to reach floating market and he thought we want to swim in the Lumpini park lake full of komodo dragons(as we were just outside Lumpini park that time). So he kept on saying No,No. When we realised his misunderstanding we were not able to control our laughter. This was just to share the fun moments and not to discourage your travelling plans. So do travel, explore the world and language will never be a barrier as long as we are connected with positive thoughts and positive mindset. Be a smart traveler with smart apps

Quick Notes:

We stayed at Avani Atrium which is a five star hotel with cozy rooms, good food and excellent service. But if you compare the pricing with a 5 star hotel in Goa you will find this one surprisingly cheaper.

There are many Indian restaurants in Bangkok. Just across our hotel there was a small restaurant called Zayka offering good Punjabi food. Plus our hotel also served popular Indian dishes so the overall stay was great fun and memorable.

We missed the visit to floating market(as we visited the Indra mall thrice) . Do try to visit the floating market, would be a unique experience.

Do carry Glucon-D, Shreejal(Coconut water) type of sachets with you to keep you away from dehydration.

Tulshibaug Ram Mandir

 

tulshibag-ram-mandir-kalas

Tulshibaug, the name says it all. This place is chaotic and dusty yet it is charming and quaint with its own beauty. This place seems to have answers for all your needs.

hustle-bustle
Tulshibaug is always overflowing with people.Tulshibaug is located centrally to Pune city. Every visitor coming to Pune visits this place to buy fashion clothes, footwear, purses and other household items.

brass-kitchen-set

brass-Kids’ kitchen-set

kitchen_needs

Kitchen-Utensils

show_pieces_for_sale

Items-for-sale

But with the chaos of the outside place they hardly come to know of Tulshibaug Ram Mandir, this quieter place.There are however, regular visitors to this place, mostly residents of Pune from many years.

regular_visitors

Daily-Visitors

This temple is a historical temple constructed in the Peshwa Era. It could be compared to a soul of a body. Located in over crowded Tulshibaug it is like like finding peace of mind in the hustle and bustle of the city crowds. The temple premises are big. There is Nagarkhana at the north entrance gate. It is typically a music gallery situated at the entrance of the palace. There is Hanuman temple and opposite to that there are beautifully carved marble idols of Shreeram,Sita and Laxman inside the temple sanctum sanctorum. This temple has wooden structure from inside. It has huge towering peak (Shikhar) It is approximately 140 metres in height and has sculptures of deities.

tulshibag-ram-mandir-kalas

Mandir-Kalas

There are many temples in this premises such as a Ganesh temple, Shankar or shiva temple, dattamandir, Vitthal Rakhumai etc.

Dashawatar.JPG

Dashawatar

There are scenes from Ramanyana are painted on the walls and few Dashawatar scenes are also there.

ramayana_scenes

Scenes-from-Ramayana

History of the place: This place initially belonged to Sardar Khasgiwale. He had a big garden of Tulsi (the holy basil plant). Naro Appaji Khire bought it from Sardar Khasgiwale and he constructed a big Ram temple here. This temple became so famous that his earlier name khire was replaced by Tulshibagwale. This temple construction took place between 1761 to 1795.When Nanasaheb Peshwe was ruling the construction was started but completed much later. Even today at the Nagarkhana they play Sanai Chaughda on every Saturday afternoon around 3 as a tribute to Bajirao Peshwe(1st)

Nagarkhana_Music Gallery

Nagarkhana

When we visited this temple recently (actually after 4, 5 years) we saw beautiful marble flooring and even some restoration done on the columns as well. All this work has maintained the beauty of the place and in fact added to it I would say. There is also a big board posted in front of the temple which gives a historical account of this place.

ram-mandir

This Ram Mandir also works as a breather in between your shopping sessions of Tulshibaug. You can take darshan, relax here for a while and get moving. But please don’t restrict it to just one experience, but let the visit become a habit.

At this  Ram temple, a big celebration takes place during Ram navmi festival which occurs in the first month as per Hindu calendar (Chaitra Shuddha Navmi). People gather here in huge numbers and the atmosphere is full of devotion and sacred chants.

During our recent visit we got an opportunity to attend Aarti of Tulshibaug ganapati. The idol is huge and beautiful. Just by the sight of it, all our troubles and problems seem to fade away. We really experienced “Darshan matre man kamana purti”

Tulshibaug-Ganapati

Tulshibaug-Ganapati

Quick notes:

Do visit Shrikrushna Bhuwan which is right there in Tulshibaug and taste the best misal of Pune (not too spicy just the perfect taste)

Every Saturday 3 pm in the afternoon, experience a recital of Sanai and Chaughada being played by local artists.

Best way to reach this place is to catch an autoriksha from your place in Pune and they will drop you just outside Tulshibaug.( It is too tough to get a parking space)