Kshetra Mahuli (Part 2)

Kashi Vishweshwar1

In the excitement of sharing vast information sometimes you get confused and struggle to find a take off point. Same was the case with Mahuli. There is so much to reveal and express. But this time that chaos has brought the clarity and harmony. Let us continue the amazing kaleidoscope of temples, greenery, Krishna river, farms, people and heritage in Kshetra Mahuli Part 2.

Radha Shankar Temple:

On the river banks of Kshetra Mahuli, RadhaShankar temple is situated. This temple was built in 1762 AD by Radhabai Taisaheb in the memory of her husband Shankararao Pantasachiv. Surprisingly Nandi idol is on the same square of the temple structure here, usually it is built separately just outside the Shiva Temple. On the left hand side of the door Ganesh Murti is there. Ganesh idol is also carved on the main entrance of all these temples underlining the fact that this deity had the immense importance in the Peshwa era and was most worshipped.

RadhaShankar Temple

There is also a Hanuman idol coloured in saffron colour. Some different stone carvings could be seen in this temple.

RadhaShankar inside

Statue at RadhaShankar

The columns in this temple have lotus design and remind us of the wooden carvings of palaces or wadas. In the inner sanctum Shivling is there. Two towers  of light are there(Deepamala)

 

RadhaShankar Mandir

RadhaShankar Mandir

 

Very near to this place is self manifested Ganesh.

Self manifested Ganesh

Self manifested Ganesh

 

Badrinarayan Temple:

Behind the Datta Temple there is Badrinarayan Mandir built in 1905 AD  by Radhabai Joshi/ Moropant Joshi. Once a very big and beautiful temple, it is in ruins now.

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Badrinarayan temple

History would be incomplete without ruins, they tell us a story of the past. But isn’t it important to preserve and look after these forgotten places?

Badrinarayan temple

Badrinarayan temple

 

Rameshwar temple:

Built by Parshuram Anagal in the 17th century Rameshwar temple is an elegant stone temple. Impact of Mughal architecture can be easily noticed by looking at the domes of this temple. This temple has a vast courtyard as compared to other two temples of Kshetra Mahuli. On entering the temple premises one shivling is seen. The Nandi idol here is bigger and carved with heavy bells design. Inside the sanctum sanctorum the main Shivling is there.

Rameshwar Temple

Mahuli is a pilgrimage centre, hence the name Kshetra Mahuli. It is also known as Dakshin Kashi. On one bank of the river, Kashi Vishweshwar temple is situated and on the other bank, Rameshwar temple. On visiting both the temples one would get the punya of visiting Tirthakshetra (Pilgrimage centre)

 

Kashi Vishweshwar temple:

Kashi Vishweshwar temple is an amazing example of temple architecture. It is a magnificent piece of art.

Kashi vishweshwar

The Nandi idol has been recently painted in white and golden colour and the square on which it is placed is also worth watching. Various designs are used to decorate this square and the design is not even repeated once.

 

Nandi at Kashi Vishweshwar

Nandi at Kashi Vishweshwar

Inside the temple numerous columns are beautifully decorated with diverse designs of parrots, peacocks and swans.

Designs on columns

Designs on columns

Outside the temple huge deepmala (tower like structure where oil lamps could be kept) is there which is approximately 45 to 50 feet in height.

Tower of Light

Tower of Light (Deepmala)

Krishnabai Utsav (Krishna River celebration):

Krishna river (4th biggest  river in India after Ganga, Brahmhaputra and Godavari) originates in Maharashtra near Mahabaleshwar. With its most fertile soil no wonder it is regarded as Lokamata (Mother) by people. Krishnabai Utsav is celebrated in different places in Wai, Mahabaleshwar , Limb, Kshetra Mahuli, Sangam Mahuli, Karad, Amanapur, Narsinhwadi even till Karnataka. This celebration starts from Vaishakh shudh Ekadashi and ends on Vaishakh Pournima as per the Hindu calendar which usually falls in the month of May. 5 days of celebration are filled with Bhajan, Kirtan, Katha Kathan etc. During this celebration various competitions take place. Various camps are organised such as Blood donation, free medical check up for needy people, uniforms and books distribution to the poor and deserving students.

This type of festivity takes place almost in each village and town where ever Krishna river is present. People from all age groups and all social strata participate in this. The jubilation and glee of the place is contagious. Large number of people have now migrated to bigger cities like to Mumbai and Pune , but they flock to Kshetra Mahuli  during Krishnabai Utsav. This shows the immense faith and love for their native place.

 

Lokmata Krishnabai

Lokmata Krishnabai

There is a connection of this celebration with Shivaji era. There was a priest called Shendye Shastri  in Wai. He had pleaded to the Krishna river to protect Shivaji Maharaj from the mighty and evil Afzalkhan. Afzalkhan had started his journey towards Shivaji Maharaj’s capital and was destroying the pilgrimage centres on the way. He had a huge army with him and anticipating this danger Shivaji Maharaj shifted his headquarters  to Pratapgad. As we know Shivaji Maharaj with his guerrilla war fare techniques killed Afzalkhan and destroyed his huge army.

This Shendye Shastri took a vow to Krishna river saying that if you save our king from this difficult phase we will celebrate your festival every year on all the banks where ever you appear. His wish was fulfilled and from that time this celebration takes place every year without any break.

Krishnadham:

Near Kshetra Mahuli there is a place called Krishnadham. This is an Ashram of Yogi Krishnanad maharaj. This place is a picture perfect beauty. The winding steps here lead you to a tranquil and soothing place very near to the river. This will make you forget about your worries and will take you in a trance.You will feel like never leaving this place.  I wish to relish every moment spent here.

Krishnadham

Krishnadham

Kshetra Mahuli would impress the travelers of various interests. It has been a shooting location for some superhit movies like Sant Tukaram, Gunj Uthi Shahanai etc.

Many persons of national presence and historical importance belong to this place. To name a few Shrirang Jadhav, an Olympic wrestler who participated in Helsinki Olympics, Kirtankar of national fame Govind Aphale and Charudatta Aphale who delighted the entire nation by their auspicious and divine compositions and above all Nyaymurti Ramshastri Prabhune who was famous for his impartial and fair justice in the court of Madhavrao Peshwe.

Ramshastri Prabhune  even told Madhavrao Peshwe that now he has accepted the Kshatriya dharma so his duty should be to govern and protect his subjects and he should not spend so much time in religious processes/ rituals. Because of his fearless and outspoken nature he did not hesitate to tell Raghoba dada Peshwe (Raghunath Peshwe) to take the death penalty (dehant Prayachitta) for his involvement in the murder of Narayanrao Peshwe. Such a courageous person who would not spare even the supreme authority is difficult to find these days.

Ramashastri Prabhune

Ramashastri Prabhune

Mahuli got its reputation in Peshwa era primarily because of Ramshashtri Prabhune.

This was a short tale of this sacred town of Kshetra Mahuli. It is one such landmark which has historical tales, architectural splendor and jubilant people. Do take out time and visit this place.

Quick Facts:

Location: 105 kms from Pune

Don’t forget to  take kandi pedha of Satara (Yogesh Sweets Modi Pedhewale and Ladkar are well known) and famous brinjals of Krishna banks on your way back.

References: Document Nyayadewata published in 1979 and Lokmata document published in 2005 and discussions with noteworthy mahulikars

 

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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.