Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spiritual Tour of Maharashtra, Ashtavinayak Yatra Feb 2013



This was my first spiritual tour of rural Maharashtra (Raigad , Pune & Ahmednagar district). Amazing and meaningful time spent with family and also learning more about our pilgrimage and people in rural area. 



We started early morning on 18th Feb from Mira Road, Mumbai and First place of our visit was MAHAD (Varad Vinayak); Second place we visited was PALI (Ballaleshwar); Third was Lenyadri (Girijatma) on the hill, nearly 300 steps; Fourth was Ozar (Vigneshwar). We had overnight halt at Ozar very good Accommodation at Temple Guest house no. 4, good rooms with attached toilet. 

Next day on 19th we again started early in morning and Visited RANJANGAON (Mahaganapati), then Sidhatek (Siddhi-Vinayak), then to Morgaon (Mayureshwar) and last at THEUR (Chintamani). We took night halt at Theur at Balaji Bhakta Niwas, good and reasonable accommodation. 

Mostly Ashtavinayaka Tour is a three days & two night visit, but we completed all eight temples in two days, though it was hectic travel. 

Ashtavinayaka literally means "eight Ganeshas" in Sanskrit. Ganesha is the Hindu deity of obstacles, unity, prosperity and learning. The term refers to eight Ganeshas. Ashtavinayaka yatra refers to a pilgrimage to the eight Hindu temples in Maharashtra state of India that house eight distinct idols of Ganesha, in a pre-ascertained sequence.

The Ashtavinayaka yatra or pilgrimage covers the eight ancient holy temples of Ganesha which are situated around Pune. Each of these temples has its own individual legend and history, as distinct from each other as the murtis in each temple. The form of each murti of Ganesha and His trunk are distinct from one another. However, there are other temples of eight Ganesha in various other parts of Maharashtra; the ones around Pune are better known than the former.

On last day i.e. 20th we started little late in morning at 8am and first visited Ramdara Temple near Loni, its is an old temple with idols of many deities. The main shrine is that of Shiva, but the statue is famous for the idols of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Next to the temple is also an ashram of Shri Devipuri Maharaj also known as Dhundi baba. The temple also has am impressive Nandi. There is a small beautiful pond next to the temple. The location of the temple along with the abundance of trees in the vicinity makes this place very calm and beautiful.  Second we visited Shree Datta Mandir at Narayanpur, its only Ek Mukhi (signle head) temple of Lord Dattatray in India. Narayanpur is a famous place in Pune region.Narayanpur is famous for their Lord Ek Mukhi Datta.Usually lord Datta has 3 faces but in Narayanpur there is Ek Mukhi Datta.The statue of Lord Ek Mukhi Datta is very beautiful.The idol of Lord Dattatreya here in the sanctum is different from the idols that we see otherwise.You can also see the Padukas i.e. footwear of Lord Datta here. These were placed in the sanctum by Lord Datta himself before he left for Samadhi.Many devotees comes to Narayanpur on the eve of Guruvar and Pournima.The number goes in lacs on the occasion of Datta Jayanti.  

We also visited Ancient and beautiful Shiva Temple right next to the Datta temple known as Narayaneshwar Temple. The stone carvings inside the temple, the carved out ropes on the pillars remind you of the Kamakya Temple of Guwahati. The Shiva Linga in the sanctum is below the floor level which is the case in many Shiva Temples in India. The gabhara has gupta (hidden) Shiva-linga. Above it, there is golden shiva-linga gifted to the temple by Shivaji Maharaj’s mother Jijabai.  The burning lamp beside the Shiva Linga is the only source of light in the sanctum. 

Our Last visit of the Tour was Balaji Temple, Narayanpur. Balaji temple is replica of actual Tirupati Balaji Temple in Tirumala. The stone sculpture of the original Tirumala Tirupati temple has been mimicked in wood and painted in grey oil-paint here. The temple is an initiative by the Lord Venkateshwara Charitable and Religious Trust, a trust set up by the Venkateshwara Hatcheries corporate group. The standing idol of Balaji is royal and awesome. If you visit quite early in the morning, you can see idol of Balaji in a matter of minutes whereas on a weekend or in the later half of the day, you have to wait for hours in a long queue. Surrounding area around main temple has small temples of deities like Krishna, Mahalakshmi, and Padmawati etc. The temple is very well maintained and also provides living rooms and kitchen facilities for visiting devotees. We had our Lunch at Free Mahaprasadam, very tasty rice meal. Every one here gets Big Ladoo as prasad.

This Three days tour was wonderful, enriching and memorable; we reached home on 20th Feb late evening. Full of energy and peace to take on ongoing life.

For me it was recharging tour, away from maddening crowd and never ending work.
A well spend time with family and travel is good once in six months for life long happiness.  

Looking forward for more chance to explore my India ........  Sailesh Mishra 


 


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.