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.

Sarasbaug

 

Sarasbaug Devdeveshwar sansthan

In Pune every Punekar has a deep faith on either Sarasbaug Ganapati or Dagadusheth Halawai Ganapati. Every age group has a reason to visit this place. There are regular morning walkers, children, youngsters, women just everyone.

Sarasbaug is located on Bajirao Road very near to Swargate, one of the major bus stands of Pune. It is very close to Nehru Cricket stadium.

There is a parking area just opposite the temple. An overbridge connects the parking area with the garden. From this overbridge you can get a beautiful view of Parvati hills.

Parvati hills view

On entering the garden you need to climb down few steps. You will see a small artificial waterall . Nice spot for clicking photos.

sarasbaug waterfall

 

From here you may head straight to the temple. On the temple foot steps we saw an artist drawing Ganesha picture by using different names. There is also an artist who makes small Ganapati idols using Areca nuts(Supari). Don’t forget to take one with you on your way back as a souvenir or blessing what ever you may call it.

Sarasbaug Entrance footsteps

 

History of this place:

Shimant Nanasaheb Peshwe started Devdeveshwar Sansthan as per the orders of his mother Kashibai. In the year 1750 during his tenure he gave orders to construct an artificial lake along the Ambil stream near the Parvati foothills. While creating the lake 25000 square feet island was kept to construct temple and garden later.

Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshawe

Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwe

 

This lake was used for boating. This lake was also used by Peshwas for secret discussions and meetings and the person who used to row the boat was usually Habashi (African negro) who was not able to understand a single word of Local Marathi
Language.

Sawai Madhavrao Peshwe and Mahadaji Shinde

Sawai Madhavrao Peshwe and Mahadaji Shinde

Later Shrimant Sawai Madhavrao Peshwe constructed a small temple on the island in the year 1784 and installed Siddhivinayak Ganesh idol there. He gave a very poetic name to it Sarasbaug which reminds us of beautiful Saras birds a type of crane, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit literature.

Sawai Madhavrao Peshwe Darbar 1790

Sawai Madhavrao Peshwe Darbar (1790)

In the year 1966 Pune Municipal Corporation developed a park in the place of lake. This temple is popularly known as Talyatla Ganapati ( Ganesha in the Lake)

The temple is beautiful and airy. The marble flooring and red columns make the temple look fascinating. Lanterns surrounding the temple enhance its beauty. Inside the temple Ganesh Stotra (Atharvshirsh and Falashruti) is inscribed.

Like the other temples you won’t normally find long queues here except on Major celebration days like Ganesh Jayanti and Sankashti Chaturthi. So normally darshan is very peaceful and no pushing and rushing required.

Sarasbaug temple interior

At 5:30 AM daily Panchamrut Pooja is done. Snan of Ganesha idol and decoration with beautiful flowers takes place. This decoration is done in front of the devotees and then Sansthan aarti takes place. After that around 6:40 AM devotees do aarti in chorus.Evening aarti takes place at 7:15 PM which is performed by a group of devotees.

They also arrange beautiful musical programs during various auspicious days.

Maghi Jayanti

Maghi Ganesh Jayanti Program

Just behind the temple there is a collection of various Ganesha idols on display. Earlier there used to be a nominal charge for visiting this display but now it is completely free.

It is a great visiting place. It has a huge garden. Children enjoy playing and running in the vast expanses of this garden. Children can enjoy themselves by buying colourful balls just for Rs.20 and playing them. The lake, though not very clean provides the right environment for aqua life. Please avoid throwing any food items in the water or don’t try to feed the fish.

Sarasbaug lake

 

Adjacent to Sarasbaug is Peshwe Park Urja Udyan which has a collection adventure games.

I remember going to Sarasbaug for celebrating full moon night (Kojagiri). It was a great experience.

Sarasbaug entrance steps

 

We always blame the government for not cleaning public places unfortunately we are the ones creating lot of garbage, throwing the wrappers of balls, plastic bottles, unfinished food items, papers etc on the lawn and making the place inelegant. It really feels bad. Every evening you get to see this garbage picture in Sarasbaug though they have kept dustbeens at every 5 metres distance.But one very good thing is when you visit the place next morning its completely clean. Thanks a lot to these cleaners and sweepers. Wish we could learn something from them.

Sarasbaug park

 

I remember visiting this temple every year during Diwali on Narakchaturdashi day. We used to get ready and wear new clothes and head straight to the temple early morning. The atmosphere used to be not just holy but it was a simple bliss.

Every visit to Sarasbaug leaves us calm yet energetic for rest of the routine.

Temple interior

Quick facts:

Open from 5.30 AM to 9:00PM

Location : Near Swargate bus depot and Nehru stadium.

Entry : Free

Parking : Limited parking space available opposite the temple.( Best way to visit will be to catch an auto from your place and visit it)