Pune to Pune..via Vani – Nashik (2014)

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Pune to Vani - Route MapTrip Period: 8th Nov to 9th Nov 2014

Approx Distance (To and From): 735 Kms

Motor-bike: Royal Enfield Classic (500 cc)

Friend in the trip: None. It was solo!

Trip Route: Pune > Sangamner > Nashik > Vani > Saptashrungi Devi Temple > Vani > Nashik > Sinnar > Sangamner > Pune

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doraemonIt was a wonderful Saturday! I was done with my planned tasks and was enjoying (?) Doraemon with my kids. Yeh.. you have to enjoy cartoons with your kids and need to clap for Doraemon’s gadgets, laugh when Nobita cries; otherwise, you may get a lovely punch from your 4 year old πŸ™‚

Well, something else cracking my head. On way back from Himalayan trip in the start of the year, I had saw a sign-board for Vani. Vani – home of Saptashrungi Devi. I kept running all over India to meet the mother goddess but really never visited her homes nearby. Well.. I think it’s enough reasoning to get ready.

A bag with set of underwears & T-shirt, water bottle & camera, headphones, helmet and hand gloves… wow.. I was on the run within 45 minutes πŸ™‚

I bought Duracells near Bhosari industrial area. I still remember the way that muscular Harley passed by me o Nashik phata flyover.. Oh man! I am sure just like RE, that dream will be truth soon (hoping so). It was sunny day of winter. Though it was getting bright in afternoon, specially on highway, air was cool and relaxing.

GMRT-Khodad

GMRT-Khodad (from the web)

Nashik highway is great until you cross crowdy Narayangaon where it turn into two-way old aged road. Still, it was making me happy with dhamal songs in ears. My tea-break spot near Khodad town was giving me perfect view of the famous GMRT – Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, the largest telescope at metre wavelengths in the world. I just can’t believe that I haven’t clicked a single snap of it and kept enjoying view and songs with tea-biscuits. Dumbo!!

Highway was less trafficked in the afternoon and I was cruising at 100 KMPH. A group grabbed my attention even at that speed.. Varkaries.. devotees! Though it was a small group, they were filling the atmosphere with their enchanting music and white apparels. Saffron flags were adding a kind of topping of devotion.

Varakari

Vada Pav

Vada Pav

Road was silent, passing through open plateau, I halted near Sangamner for my lunch at 4.30 pm. Aloo-mutter…what else can I eat πŸ™‚Β By the time, I reached Nashik, it was almost started getting dark. Passage through Mumbai-Agra byepass was really choked up. Still, I found a place to taste the world famous ‘Pav-Vada’ of Nashik. Vada Pav – an Indian version of Burger..!

I was wandering in the city almost for an hour..Panchwati.. I liked the place. Then marched ahead! Nashik to Vani road not much crowded but silently good. Though on that 2 way road, headlights of vehicles coming from ahead was trouling a lot, my RE headlight was doing a great job. Except a few minutes break for natural call, I haven’t stopped until I reached Vani town. Vani was sleeping. I filled RE’s tank full and reached a chowk where you need to turn right for Saptashrungi Gad.That’s a spot to kill your hunger. There are 4-5 dhabha style restaurants on the turn. I recommend that you should have your lunch / dinner here on your way up to or back from Saptashrung gad. I too had mine dinner here.

Cool.. winter night, stomach full, hot engine and Kishor kumar.. all set for next lonely road. It was a village road with loads of turns, ups & downs but was a clean road. I could imagine farms around in that darkness also (I was shivering by cold). Best part was of Ghat region of the Gad. Absolutely alone, I & my RE, we were cruising at 50 kmph on those U-pin turns among the forest. After running for 20 minutes, I reached near temple . Ropeway welcomed me at Devi’s home.

Saptashrungi Temple - Amazing night view

Saptashrungi Temple – Amazing night view

First look of Saptashrung Gad was enchanting. It reminded me Vaishno Devi. Located on the hill, the temple was looking beautiful in the dark night. Colorful decoration lights of the temple route and the temple were adding divine brightness. I checked in a lodge next to temple’s main entrance. It was a good deal in Rs.300 (specially in freezing night). Before getting into dream world, I hadn’t forgot to capture that night beauty of the temple in my Nikon Coolpix, my one more friend in almost all the Β trips. Tired…slept in minutes.

for my mother

for my mother

Fresh cool air waked me up! Trust me, that bath was horrible experience. They promised me hot water but never turned up. Fresh Santosh, first ran to tea-stall. All set! I picked up my small offering for mother Devi. The offering included a blouse piece as per local customs, flowers, sindoor, a coconut and some prasadam. How nice… just like my mother… she gets happy with smallest offerings I can make πŸ™‚

The market on the way to entrance was typical as you can see at any Hindu pilgrim place..colorfull & amazing. I always loved to roam in such markets which presents lot of special things about that place’s deity. Pictures with stories of the god, specific offerings and something special from that place, typically sweet.

After spending some time around, I moved to main entrance gate with security guys.. Funny ahh.. the One who safeguards entire universe, these guys were trying to save that One!! Irony…!!

An Iron Trishula is placed on the gate where your first darshana happens. After this, you need to offer the coconut near the gate only. This is (again) for security purpose (they say – it’s for cleanliness). A guy was operating a machine to help devotees to get their coconut cut. I liked it.

Sri Dutta at Saptashrung Gad

Sri Dutta at Saptashrung Gad

Instead of the Ropeway, I decided to climb the stairs. The temple was clean and filled with devotees on weekend. A niche temple of Shri Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana is the first one on the porch and then it was Lord Dattatreya temple with holy tortoise (Kurma) in front of it. I offered flowers on the way.

As I was climbing up, the view from Saptashrung gad was looking awesome. It was sunny morning. View of holy kunda, various mountain peaks was unforgettable. As I was going near to the main abode of the goddess, sound of bhajan music & Puja started filling the air with chanting of calmness. I wasn’t surprised to see the queue for darshan in the early morning of weekend.

Monkeys at Vani templeAmazing part of the darshana queue was monkeys around. Temple was full of these little monsters. They were surely adding screams and fun among the crowd. These thieves were stealing bags, prasadas and even flowers from the devotees.

Among all that monkey fun, I was stunned with first look of Saffron Mother.. Amazing.. with humble eyes I was watching the beauty of the goddess. The one which I saw in pictures till now; was in front of me. I can’t exactly express my feelings now in the words but can surely say that I was happy πŸ™‚ Saffron in color, Nath in nose and many blessing hands, Saptashrungi Devi was looking very kind in her aggressive posture. Belief.. that’s what makes you see a god in a stone.. a mother in an idol..! I believe!!

Saptashrungi Devi

Saptashrungi Devi

Unknowingly I started chanting along with the other devotees. Many of them offering various prasadam, Sarees and many other stuff. Ladies were lighting diyas in an open place exactly in front of main shrine. Those few moments in front of devi were unforgettable. Instead of asking for anything, I prefer to stay calm and look at the god, anyways god know what you want πŸ™‚

Once you complete the darshana of the goddess, you can see some devotees offering their rituals to Saptashrungi Devi. They believe that goddess takes over their soul and bless them. They dance, they make sounds, they move their heads up & down and so on. May be a matter of faith..! I would never comment on if this is real or fake… If they believe, let them believe!!

On the way back through a cave kind of stairs, you will see one more example of such beliefs. People sticking coins on the cave wall. It is believed that if your coin get sticked on the wall, your wish will come true. Well, I prefer to just photograph πŸ™‚ Even solid rocks got coin marks with years of such sticking.

Read More about Saptashrungi Devi – Vani

at Saptashrung Gad - Vani

at Saptashrung Gad – Vani

With satisfied mind, I had a tea break in the bazar. Rushed to my room, packed my bag and rode my bike in just 15 mins; I had to be at home by night!!

Clean air, lush greenery and wonderful views; the ghat road back was just breathtaking. I stopped by a valley which is famous among the tourists. The spot gives perfect picture of the holy hill and the surrounding. I couldn’t miss a snap with my RE their. Thanks to those unknown guys who always meet me on every trip and click my snap with smile πŸ™‚

Well.. I had my breakfast (cum lunch) at the same dhaba and started marching on my way back to home. Crossing Nashik city was again a sort of hectic part. When I reached Sinnar town, I just recalled a column from a local newspaper which I read few months before. Gondeshwar Temple – an ancient temple ruins of Sinnar. I had a cup of tea and drove into the town. The temple is rightly placed near the town’s council building.

Gondeshwar Temple - Sinnar

Gondeshwar Temple – Sinnar

An amazing but forgotten place.. neglected gem from the history. Though it’s a protected monument, it needs immediate attention and care. What a beauty..! I felt very sorry for it’s condition but was happy that I could see it.

at Gondeshwar Temple

at Gondeshwar Temple

Shiva-Panchayatan, Lord Shiva with it’s court. As the name suggests, there are five niche temples around the main abode of Lord Shiva. One of them, Vishnu temple, presents great designed pillars. This Hemadpanthi temple is one of the great example of historical glory.

I was glad to be there. Ruins of Gondeshwar temple are amazing. Main Shiva temple is huge and got tall shikhara. I felt so calm in the dark gabhara. Shiva Linga was looking divine and beautiful with flowers. I sat inside for almost an hour.

The temple is currently playing a vital role in Sinnar’s educational progress.. sounds crazy? The temple was full of students who found a quiet place for their studies. I must say that I would have been loved to study here. It reminded me the days from my childhood when I used to go to Pataleshwar caves in Pune during my exam times for study..

Read More about Gondeshwar Temple – Sinnar

Gondeshwar Temple made my trip complete. I was feeling satisfied even with empty stomach. It was a time to run back. The same road which I took to reach to my destination, was looking different, was happening! Having couple breaks, I was enjoying the night drive.

Wow.. these couple of days were a lovely experience. Every scene was floating in front of eyes while I was writing this travelogue. Hope Nashik-Pune highway widening completes before I use again πŸ™‚

 

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