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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every year on Dattajayanti a two day celebration(utsav) takes place. There is Bhajan, Kirtan and the whole ambiance is pure and blessed.
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.
On one side of the Datta Mandir there is Bilweshwar Temple.
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.
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.
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 🙂
I can spend hours sitting on the banks here. Especially the dusk is awesome. The placid water simply spells peace.
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.