Approx Distance (To and From): 440 Kms
Motor-bike: Hero X-Treme (150cc)
Friend in the trip: Myself.. it was solo.
Trip Route: Pune > Ahmed Nagar > Newasa > Toka > Deogad > Shani-Shinganapur > Ahmed Nagar > Pune[divider]
It started with a column in a newspaper:
With a cup of tea, I was reading ‘Prabhat’ – a local newspaper in Marathi – in a restaurant. This newspaper carries a section ‘Sanskritiche Aarase’ (Mirrors of Cultures). I think they are doing great job by providing information about amazing cultural places and arts in summary. A photo of an ancient temple grabbed my attention. I took the cut-out of the information.
Well, on the next morning,I was on the highway @ the speed of 80 kmph on X-treme. That’s how it worked always (lol).
I am used to the route of Ahmednagar with my frequent flights to Shani Shingnapur temple. It took an hour & half to cross the city. Solo trips..I love them. It’s you & your biker & your headphones & your songs & your camera & your thoughts & your memories & all yours 🙂
At Toka – Newasa:
After having breakfast at Kedgaon (my typical stop at Anand Veg Dhaba), I stopped near Newasa town. Local public is well aware of the temple which was my destination. I surprised to hear about 4 more Shiva temples around the one I planned. Siddheshwar, Rameshwar, Mukteshwar, Ghoteshwar and Sangameshwar. Cursed myself for not having good homework about the place & focused on the target – Shri Siddheshwar Temple.
After taking left turn on Aurangabad Highway, I saw an ancient temple. It was not like what I saw in that section of Prabhat. With confused mind, I approached. I learnt that it was Ghoteshwar Temple of lord Shiva. Nearby, I stopped at a small & lonely house. Amazed to see a scene – a small idols of Shiva Linga with Nandi was placed below a small tree, but head of bull’s skull was also placed between that Linga and Nandi. Wow. It was a bull of that house owner for sure.
Once you cross the newly constructed bridge, you enter the temple campus on the right hand. I must say that the confluence of Pravara River & Godavari River ( Pravara Godavari Sangam) looks amazing with a Siddheshwara Temple on one of the bank.
From the bridge, one can see various other temples. Per saying, the Godavari river used to be boundary between Nizam’s and Peshawa’s regions. To protect the villagers from Nizams, an underground village had built by Peshwas. We can see the remained signs of those monuments along with the palace of Vishnu Mahadev Gadre – the Peshwa.
At the entrance of the Siddheshwara Temple, I met with a friendly local guy Dilip Gite – who run a small tea stall , work as guide and temple pujari (who performs worships) as needed. Dilip gave me lots of the historic information and also guided me to various places. Thanks Dilip sir 🙂
As per the Devanagari inscriptions which are placed on the south-gate of the main temple of Siddheshwara. It seems that Vishnu Mahadev Gadre had built the temple in the year 1767 for the cost of Rs. 93,000. Nana Phadnis contributed further in repairing of the temple and also built six flights of steps from the temple to the Godavari River(called as Ghat). The entire area poses a kind of calmness & spirituality..I must say.
After parking the bike, I got refreshed & had special tea made by Dilip. I just forgot the fatigue of the travel and got ready for photo-sessions.
Wowwwww… Amazing… Forgotten Treasure…. Hidden Gem…. I felt so happy once I entered in the temple gate. I first went to main Shiva temple and offered my worship.
The entire temple area was like Shiva-Panchayatan (Shiva’s Court). In the temple compound, temples of Vishnu & Maa Durga are present on the both sides of the main temple dedicated to Lord Shiva i.e. Vishnu on left & Durga on right. As per local villagers these three temples represent the name of their constructor – Vishnu (Vishnu Temple) Mahadev (Shiva Temple) Gadre (Maa Durga Temple – which is also called as ‘Gajara Mata’ by locals). Lord Ganesha & Dattatreya’s mini temples are also part of the campus.
Temple is built in Hemadpanti style using black stone & lime. Main temple is abode of Lord Shiva with Shiva linga. Surprisingly, the roof-top of the sabha-mandapa (hall at the entrance) is ornamented with Lord Krishna & Radha’s idols. Even the outer walls of the Shiva temple bear many scenes about Krishna leelas, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Notable carvings of Vishnu-Avataras (incarnations of Lord Vishnu) include Narasimha, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma, Vamana, Rama & Krishna. We must say that this entire temple campus represent one the best example of Vaishnava (who follows Lord Vishnu) & Shaisava (who follows Lord Shiva) unity.
Vishnu Temple on the left side of main temple of Shiva, is equally ornamented with carvings. Garuda – the mount of Lord Vishnu is situated in front of Vishnu’s temple.. just like Nandi in front of Shiva! Main attraction of the Vishnu temple is ‘Dikpalas‘ (guardians of the directions) which placed on all the outer walls. Those include Yama, Kubera, Indra, Varuna, Isana, Agni, Vayu & Nirrti.
Devi Temple on the right side of the main temple of Shiva, is amazingly constructed on Star Shaped base. Such design of the temple i.e. Star shape, I saw in Bellur (Karnataka) and never else. Devi is called as Gajara Devi by villagers, named after the founder’s surname i.e. Gadre (Gajre). The best attraction here is ‘Ashtamatrikas‘ (Eight Mother Goddesses) idols on the walls of the temple which include Varahi, Brahmini, Vaishnavi, Indrani, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Chamunda & Narasimhi. Its rare to see Ashtamatrikas in temples. I had chance to see them at Shamlaji (Rajasthan) during my trip in the start of 2014.
Even in that hot & sunny afternoon, I couldn’t stop myself from observing almost each and every idol, carving or design. It was a perfect place to get hypnotized in your own soul. I met with a main Pujari of the temple ‘Balbrahmachari Baba’ who now a days is famous & well respected in the region. They also got a small ashram behind the temple and now started various Shiva related rituals here like Kalsarpa-Dosh Nivaranan, Narayana Nagbali etc.
Well my appetite was satisfied with what I was looking for. Sun was all set for getting set behind hills. For few minutes, I got troubled with the bike as it wasn’t starting. That was not at all good with empty stomachs unless it started & took me to the nearby restaurant 🙂
Devgad Dutta Temple:
The Grand Entrance of Devgad Dutta Sansthan on Aurangabad Highway gives an idea of a great & beautiful temple of Shri Dutta in Devgad. I have crossed this gate many times but never got a chance or time to explore the same. How unfortunate I was! I realised the same when I just took right turn on my way back to Pune.
I just took off my helmet (I know its bad thing to do so..but I had a good excuse) and was just enjoying the village road among the farms, small villages and cattles occasionally 🙂
The area was giving me the feel of ‘Gajanan Maharaj Temple’ at Shegaon. Gopuram (dome) in front of the entrance surprised me. Thats generally a South-Indian temple structure or style of having such entry gate.
Temple’s main entry gate – called as ‘Mahadwar’ – gives an idea about what you are about to experience. All devotees / visitors need to keep their shoes out side the Mahadwar. Even the shoe stand is well managed. Ignoring the corporate look in the terms of the management of the temple, I must say that this is a place for peace of mind & spiritual calmness. Clean garden makes you feel happy. After having darshana, I wandered around and found that this can be a place for a good one day family trip.
All the structures are built in a red marble which brought from Rajasthan 🙂
Saint Kisangiri Baba’s Samadhi (tomb) is also part of the campus along with Siddheshwara Temple.
Sunset had happened. After taking prasada, I started my journey back.
It was dark but how can I leave without meeting my god – Shri Shani. I reached at Shani-Shinganapur around 9 pm in the night. As usual, the darshana of the holy black stone gave me peace of mind and hit F5 button to refresh my soul to regain all positive energies.
I almost spent couple of hours in that open air temple…
The return journey to Pune was now more silent in mid-night but full of music. I ate my day’s food at 12.30 am .. ha ha. No need to say – 100% Veg!!
While getting ready for sleep around 2.30 am at home, all those sculptures, spiritual idols and highway run was flowing in eyes..! It was a peaceful sleep!!