Gurudwara in Andheri west: See pictures

Sometimes you experience something memorable out of the blue. Such events can’t be planned. The same happened with me recently when I landed in the famous Gurudwara of Andheri in Mumbai.

I had gone to the D N Nagar Metro Station area for a work-related visit. I reached my destination much before time, which is rare for me considering my work schedule. My auto-rickshaw stopped just near the Gurudwara. The sight was enough for me to enter it, more so since I was before time.

I have seen this Gurudwara in some television shows and movies. I always felt I should visit it some day but it just kept on delaying. But here I was at the place all of a sudden.

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I was surprised to see a young man in rich clothes and attire on the footwear stand. He was extremely polite and humble. The beautiful sight of the main dome ensured that I didn’t feel the steps while climbing up despite it being a tiring day.

The inner sanctum of the Gurudwara instantly fills you up with peace. No matter how hectic day you had, you will feel relaxed as soon as you enter it. The sight of other devotees and the priest-like man with the Guru Granth Sahib felt like my own even though they were strangers.

I was there only for few minutes but that was enough to rejuvenate me.

The experience reminded me of my visit to the Gurudwara in Matunga west in Mumbai.

By: Keyur Seta

Gurudwara Andheri west

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Alandi: Sant Dnyaneshwar’s therapeutic abode along the banks of the Indrayani

Aalandi is a small village but that doesn’t stop it from being popular. Its connection with Sant Dnyaneshwar is the major reason why it is thronged throughout the year by devotees, many of them belonging to the Varkari sect. It is around 20-30 minutes away from the Pune city.

Dnyaneshwar was a 13th century saint, poet, philosopher and guru from Maharashtra. He is known the most for authoring a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit to Marathi and titled it Dnyaneshwari. His translated work of the ancient text helped a lot of people who didn’t know Sanskrit from the state to acquire its knowledge.

Dnyaneshwar’s another famous work is Amurtanubhav, which he wrote on the advice of his guru Nivruttinath. (Read more about Sant Dnyaneshwar by clicking HERE.)

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Dnyaneshwar temple

Alandi is the place where Dnyaneshwar attained Samadhi (Nirvana) at Siddheshwar temple. A temple complex was built over there later which is thronged by pilgrims ever since, especially on Ekadashi.

The temple offers plenty of serenity. As soon as I entered, I was welcomed with positive vibes. It is also a treat to see the passion of the devotees. It is their simplicity that impresses you, especially their clothing. The compound of the temple is also used to simply sit and take in the experience. You might find people reading devotional texts over there.

Dnyaneshwar temple-Alandi

Alandi is also known for its renowned temple of another saint Jalaram Bapa. This is his second most prominent place of worship after his birth place in Virpur in Gujarat.

Alandi is like any other small village of Maharashtra. There has been a lot of construction over here in the last decade or more. This wasn’t the case when I used to visit it during my childhood in the 1990s. Nevertheless, it still provides relaxation.

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River Indrayani

River Indrayani is the major reason for this. It is a peaceful river surrounded by nicely built steps. The scene is somewhat similar to Varanasi. There are a number of shops selling devotional items, literature and food. If you are in Alandi, it is a must to savour its spicy Misal with Pav.

By: Keyur Seta

Misal-Pav

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Inside the Dnyaneshwar temple

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River-Indrayani

Nadgaon: Unexplored nature’s abode near Mumbai

Our visit to a little place called Nadgaon last month was quite enlightening. Whenever someone asks me as to when will I make my first foreign trip, I feel there is so much left to be seen in various parts of India. Well, this trip made me realize that there is a lot to see even around 100 kilometres away from our home in Mumbai.

When I decided to go for a day long trip to Nadgaon, which is near Karjat, I was looking forward to a well-deserved break. However, I certainly didn’t expect to be so intimately close to nature.

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The place where he stayed is a farmhouse run by a friendly family. You can book it for a day and do whatever you wish to. I have seen houses surrounded by nature in various parts of India. But this was a rare place which has long stretches of greenery without a trace of any house, building or shop. Such vast untouched areas of nature.

Through the backside of the house one can go down the steps to a pretty waterfall. The path and the following steps are difficult but the risk is worth taking.

If you have the energy for a long walk, you can go to a nearby river which is around 45 minutes walking. Again, this is worth the effort as the river is too soothing and, like the rest of the village, without civilization.

Back at the house, apart from breakfast, lunch and tea, the owners provide with corn (bhutta) and groundnuts cooked naturally on a chulha.

All in all, even if you visit it just for a day, like we did, it is still enough to take back some calmness. If you feel nature of God, you are in for some spiritual experience. The ideal time to go is monsoons.

By: Keyur Seta

Note: Do drop a comment if you wish to know the details about staying at this farmhouse.

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The caravan of our Karwaan

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Way to the river
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The super peaceful river
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The owners also rare animals like cows, horses and lambs.

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Way to the waterfall
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Waterfall from above

Waterfall

 

Pictures: River Godavari, adjoining temples and Sita Gumfa

The last time I had visited the banks of River Godavari in Nashik was more than 20 years ago. It was probably the first time I had spent so much time at a river bank then. Needless to say, I had fond memories of that place.

My next visit to Godavari was last month. I had expected massive changes in and around Godavari. However, much to my pleasant surprise, I realized that the river bank and the adjoining area had hardly changed.

Godavari

 

At a time when rapid change and urbanization is the norm of the day, this sight gave me the same kind of joy it had given me more than two decades ago.

Thankfully, the Govdavari, which is based in the Panchvati area of Nashik, was full of water the day we visited. To see people happily taking a dip in it was a happy sight. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so polluted, as is the case with other rivers.

There are a number of small but pretty temples ound the river. A big sthamba and a beautiful statue of Lord Hanuman also adorn the place.

The Shree Kapaleshwar Mahadev Mandir is one of the prominent temples here. It is a Shiva temple. Just ahead lies Shri Goreram Temple, in which the idol of Lord Ram is made from white marble. Similarly, in Shri Kalaram Temple, which is also nearby, the idol is made of black marble.

Once you keep walking ahead for some time, you will find the historic Sita Gumfa aka Sita Cave. It is believed that Sita, Ram and Laxmana prayed here during their exile period. The passage to the gumpha is extremely narrow and everyone is not advised to go through it.

By: Keyur Seta

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History of Shree Goreram Temple
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Entrance to Sita Gumfa

Photos: Godavari-Kapila Sangam and Laxmana Temple at Tapovan, Nashik

The most important twist in the Indian epic Ramayana is when Laxmana cuts the nose of the evil Supranakha, the sister of Ravana. It was this act that played a role in Ravana kidnapping Sita, wife of Lord Rama.

It is believed that the incident took place near a place where lays the city of Nashik currently. The area where the encounter happened is called Tapovan, which was a part of the ancient Dandakaranya forest.

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On the banks of Godavari-Kapila Sangam

The name Tapovan is derived from Sanskrit words Tap, which means meditation and van, which means forest. Hence, the place was used by many sages for meditation.

 

Because of Laxmana’s act, a temple in his name is formed at this place, which is just a stone throw away from the place where rivers Godavari and Kapila meet (known as Godavari-Kapila sangam). At the same place, lie few holy water kunds (holy reservoirs).

Despite the heat, the place appeared pleasant and calm when we had visited it recently. We were told that this is the only Laxmana temple in the world. However, after doing a simple Google search just now, I realized that this is not true. There are Laxmana temples in Chhattisgarh and Khajuraho.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience being at this place. More than the temple, the Godavari-Kapila Sangam was more remarkable. The area where two rivers flowing and the various kunds (Mukti, Agni and Sita Kund) reside was quite adventurous. There are also three kunds signifying Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

On the far end one can see huge idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures:

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Outside the Laxman  Temple

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Entrace of Laxman Temple. Pictures aren’t allowed inside

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Idols of Ram, Sita and Laxmana

Pictures: Khandoba Temple atop the hill at Deolali

The Khandoba Maharaj Temple or Khandoba Tekdi at Deolali (also known as Devlali) is an interesting mixture of mythology and history. As per a legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva took the form of Khandoba Maharaj to eliminate two demon brothers Malla and Mani.

After performing a lot of austerities, the brothers had received a boon from Shiva through which nobody could kill them. But they became extremely arrogant and started creating havoc on innocent citizens. Hence, Shiva took matters in his own hands and killed them through his Khandoba avatar.

Khandoba-TekdiThe legend goes onto say that Khandoba Maharaj, after killing Malla and Mani, took some rest at this place. That’s the reason why the place is also called Vishram (which translates to ‘rest’) Gadh.

It is believed that much, much later when Shivaji Maharaj was going towards north, he took rest at this place. Ever since, the temple was formed and it has been taken care of by Amle family.

Surprisingly, the premises of the Khandoba Temple start with a huge park meant for both children and adults. It ends where the steps to the temple, which is situated on a hilltop, start. The steps are wide and less in height. This makes it possible even for older people to climb them.

It’s an enjoyable climb due to it being easy and the view that it offers. One gets a peaceful and calm feeling after reaching the temple at the top. The entrance and the inner sanctum are well structured and maintained. The vibrant colours add to the beauty.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures:

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History of Khandoba Temple
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Gita Saar on the way
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Hanuman Akhada (place where wrestlers fight)
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Almost there

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Khandoba temple

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The main idol of Khandoba

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Pictures: Shiva Temple in the snow-clad Gulmarg where Quran is recited

Gulmarg, the small town in Kashmir, gets garnished in snow with the arrival of winter every year. In between the snow-peaked mountains lies a Shiva temple on top of a hill. Named Rani temple, it is visible from all corners of Gulmarg.

Spotting a Hindu temple in Kashmir is a rare sight as there are hardly any left in the region. The Rani temple is one of the last signs of the Dogra Dynasty and was built by Maharaja Hari Singh in the 20th century. He was the last Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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Far view of the Rani Temple in Gulmarg

The temple is named after his wife Maharani Mohini Bai Sisodia since she used to ardently perform prayers over here. She was one of his four wives.

The most incredible feature about the temple is the priest. He is not an ordinary priest. His name is Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh. Yes, the Hindu temple is guarded by a Muslim priest. But that’s not all. The priest daily recites verses from the Gita as well as the Quran. I guess this practice isn’t seen anywhere else. Unfortunately, he wasn’t present when we visited the temple.

Gulmarg-Shiva-templeThe Rani temple is also famous for being featured in the classic Hindi song ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ from J Om Prakash’s Aap Ki Kasam (1974) and was picturized on Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz.

The way to the temple is through a long staircase. As Gulmarg lies at a high altitude of 8690 feet, one is bound to become breathless after the climb. But the effort is truly worth for the peaceful atmosphere the temple offers and the breathtaking view of this beautiful snow-clad town.

Also see: Photos: Huge Shiva statue at Nageshwar Mahadev temple in Dwarka

Gulmarg is known for its iconic Gondola ride that takes you almost as far as the PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) at a height of close to 13000 feet at Mount Apharwat Summit. It is a place that is worth innumerable words.

Pictures and article: Keyur Seta

More pictures from the temple and Mt Apharwat:

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View from the Rani temple
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View from the Rani temple

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Shiva temple-Gulmarg

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Mount Apharwat
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Gondola ride to Mount Apharwat