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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Bhuleshwar: Hidden Treasure

Light and shadow effect at Bhuleshwar

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

Location:

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

On the way to Bhuleshwar

On the way to Bhuleshwar

Nature on the way

Nature on the way

History of this place:

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

Remains of Eidgah

Remains of Eidgah

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

Bhuleshwar Temple from outside

 

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

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

carvings at the entrance steps

Sculptures at the entrance steps

 

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

Nandi idol

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

Draupadi Swayamwar

Draupadi Swayamwar(Mahabharat)

 

Bheem fighting with elephants

Bheem fighting with elephants ( Mahabharat)

 

Bhishma on bed of arrows

Bhishma on bed of arrows , Pandavas sitting beside him

Ram and Bharat Meeting

Ram and Bharat Meeting (Ramayana)

 

Samudramanthan

Samudramanthan (Churning of the Ocean)

 

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

 

Idols in female form

Idols of Ganesh, Shankar, Vishnu


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

 

Elephants on pillars

Elephants on the pillars

Ceiling carving at the entrance

Carvings

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

Inside the temple

Bell, Cobra and flower design

Darpan Sundari

Darpan Sundari(Lady admiring herself in mirror)

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

Musicians

Musicians

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

Deformed sculptures

Deformed sculptures

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

Shivling

 

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

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

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

Water storage

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

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

Nagkanya

Quick Notes:

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

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

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

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