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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Sambhaji Maharaj Samadhi : Tulapur,Vadhu

Situated at about 27 km from Pune, on the Pune Nagar highway, Tulapur tells the great story of valour and sacrifice of second chatrapati of Marathas Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Great Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

From the main Nagar road highway we need to take a left turn at Lonikand. After taking a left turn you would see the electric receiving station of Lonikand. Keep following the same road. You would see few companies and hotels on the way. After about five kilometers from the highway you would see a board pointing in the right direction saying Samadhi of Sambhaji Maharaj.

Though the inner road leading to Samadhi is very narrow (at a time only a single four wheeler can enter) there is ample space for parking two wheelers and four wheelers inside. The entrance gate is beautifully made.

Tulapur Entrance Gate

Entrance gate Tulapur

On entering the premises you are greeted by a book stall. It has most of the books about forts, Shivaji Maharaj and his great soldiers and about many other great leaders.

There is a big statue of Sambhaji Maharaj and on our recent visit we saw the compound work around this statue was in progress.

Sambhaji Maharaj statue Tulapur

Sambhaji Maharaj statue Tulapur

I remember visiting this place 15 years ago. There was hardly anyone at this place that time. Today a good number of people visit it. There is a beautiful Shiva temple Sangameshwar made up of stone.The name is given since there is confluence of three rivers Bhama, Bhima and Indrayani. The temple has a spacious courtyard and it is very clean. Inside one can see idols of Vitthal Rukhmini and Ganesh which is made up of single stone and dates back to 1633.

Sangameshwar Mandir

Sangameshwar Mandir

ganesh Murti

Ganesh Murti

The Shivaling is present in the inner sanctum. The entrance arch of inner sanctum is magnificently carved with typical garland designs and triangles at the base.

The surroundings of this temple are kept clean. When we came out of the temple we saw few vegetable hawkers selling fresh vegetables from their farms at reasonable pricing.

sangameshwar mandir1

sangameshwar mandir

Inner sanctum Sangameshwar

Inner sanctum Sangameshwar

Near the temple is the Tomb of Kavi Kalash. He was brutally tortured and killed at this place. He was the real friend of Sambhaji Maharaj who was with him till the end. Even after the brutal torture he did not stop praising Sambhaji Maharaj, Aurangzeb had his throat cut.

Kavi Kalash Samadhi Tulapur

Kavi Kalash Samadhi Tulapur

On the other side of temple is the Samadhi of Sambhaji Raje. Inside the room is a half statue of Sambhaji Maharaj. It is kept clean and worshipped daily. Around this statue few paintings related to Tulapur history are shown. There is also a picture of Sambhaji Maharaj which was obtained from the British Library in London.

Sambhaji Maharaj Samadhi Tulapur

Sambhaji Maharaj Samadhi Tulapur

There is a small canteen near the Samadhi were one can have snacks. There is also a boat ride facility available.

I have a sincere request to all the visitors to maintain the sanctity of this place and not making this place a picnic spot for entertainment.

Sambhaji Maharaj was brutally tortured and killed by Aurangzeb. He was asked to surrender his forts, treasures and names of Mughal collaborators who helped Marathas. But he stood tall, faced all torture and refused to convert to Islam and help Aurangzeb in any way.

confluence of 3 rivers

confluence of 3 rivers

Sambhaji maharaj statue Vadhu

Sambhaji maharaj statue Vadhu

On the other side of the river bank, is the village called Vadhu. To reach there you will again have to come back to the highway and take a left turn, go for about 2 kms and take a left turn again when you see the board Shikrapur Police chowky. After going inside for about 3 km you will also see a board saying Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Samadhi. Go straight inside it you will reach Maharani Yesubai entrance gate.

sambhaji Maharaj samadhi Vadhu

sambhaji Maharaj samadhi Vadhu

It is said that Aurangzeb killed Sambhaji Maharaj and threw his body parts in the river. Vadhu villagers collected it and gave fire to it as per the Hindu rituals. There is a tomb of Sambhaji Maharaj and Kavi Kalash here. There is a big statue of Sambhaji maharaj as well. At Vadhu a big hall has been constructed and paintings depicting important incidences of Sambhaji’s life are displayed. We also saw a picture of Sambhaji Maharaj’s  rajamudra (royal seal) over there. This place can be visited from 7:00AM to 7:00 PM on all days.

Sambhaji Rajamudra Vadhu

Sambhaji Rajamudra Vadhu

Sambhaji Maharaj was great scholar of Brij and Sanskrit language.He was valiant king who stood in front of huge army of 5 lakh mughal soldiers of Aurangzeb with his own smaller army. He fought bravely with Aurangzeb for 8 years and never lost any important fort or any ship. He was the first king who tried to build a bridge in sea in order to capture invincible Janjira. He sacrificed his life at the age of 32 for the protection of his religion and his countrymen.

Great Salute to this Maratha King!