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.

Mountains-greenery

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.

37794245_1697060127009540_638719928211341312_n
The caravan of our Karwaan

37948091_1697059360342950_451005436192096256_n

IMG_20180726_120901
Way to the river
IMG_20180726_125652
The super peaceful river
P_20180726_112519
The owners also rare animals like cows, horses and lambs.

P_20180726_112639

P_20180726_112727
Way to the waterfall
P_20180726_113211
Waterfall from above

Waterfall

 

Advertisements

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

River-Godavari.jpg

Godavari-Nashik

Hanuman

Shree-Kapaleshwar-Temple-Nashik

P_20180302_134317
History of Shree Goreram Temple
Sita-Gumfa
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.

Tapovan-Nashik
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:

Tapovan

Ganesh-temple-Maharashtra
Outside the Laxman  Temple

P_20180302_121009

Laxman-temple-Nashik
Entrace of Laxman Temple. Pictures aren’t allowed inside

P_20180302_115809

Agni-kund

Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh-kund

Godavari-Kapila-Sangam

Godavari-river

Sita-kund

Ram-Sita-Nashik
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:

Khandoba-temple-steps.jpg

Khandoba-Temple-history
History of Khandoba Temple
Gita-saar
Gita Saar on the way
P_20180301_181056
Hanuman Akhada (place where wrestlers fight)
Khantoba-tekdi-Deolali
Almost there

P_20180301_181259

Khandoba-Dattatrey

Khandoba temple

P_20180301_181457

Khandoba-Tekdi

Khandoba-Devlali

Khandoba-Temple-Deolali
The main idol of Khandoba

Khandoba temple-Deolali

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.

Gulmarg-snow
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.

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:

Gulmarg
View from the Rani temple
Gulmarg-Kashmir
View from the Rani temple

Shiva-temple-Gulmarg

Shiva temple-Gulmarg

Rani-temple-Gulmarg

Gulmarg-Apharwat
Mount Apharwat
Gulmarg-gondola
Gondola ride to Mount Apharwat

 

 

 

Photos: Huge Shiva statue at Nageshwar Mahadev temple in Dwarka

Dwarka is famous for being the holy place of lord Krishna. The Dwarkadhish and Bet Dwarka temples are the ones that are thronged the most by Krishna devotees. But during our recent trip to the place, we realized that the Nageshwar Mahadev temple or Nageshwar Jyotirling temple also holds a lot of significance in the town of Gujarat.

When our driver-cum-guide told us that he is taking us to a temple of Lord Shiva which is some distance away from the town, we were interested but not excited. However, even when we were some distance away from the destination, excitement suddenly crept up.

Also read: Mercure Dwarka Review: Serene hub in the land of Lord Krishna

Nageshwar-Jyotirling-DwarkaIt was the huge statue of lord Shiva or Shankar that appeared fascinating as we approached the place. As expected, we were in complete awe of the mammoth piece of art work as we finally reached the place.

The huge white coloured Shiva statue stood as an astounding figure commanding respect. The rudraksh necklace around His neck and fingers, tiger skin costume and the presence of the snake, damru and trishul along with the calm facial expression made it appear like a real person.

The sight almost made me forget that the main temple was actually inside. Like what you expect from a place of worship, the atmosphere inside the Nageshwar Jyotirling temple provides peace and serenity. We were easily able to do darshan of the main Shivalinga as there was hardly any crowd (they don’t allow pictures). The compound also has an artistic little Shiva-Parvati temple.

A large photo frame of the late music mogul Gulshan Kumar is also hung inside the temple. We assumed that he must have done a hefty donation to the temple trust.

Like every well-known temple, there is a legend about this place too. The Shiva Purana says that Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is in the Darukavana, which means forest. According to the legend, a Shiva devotee named Supriya was attacked by the demon Daaruka. After chanting Shiva’s name, Supriya was saved by Him, who resided there in the form of a Shivalinga.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures from the Nageshwar Mahadev or Jyotirlinga Temple in Dwarka:

Nageshwar Mahadev-temple-Dwarka

DSCN1023
The entrance

Nageshwar-Jyotirling-Dwarka

Nageshwar-Jyotirling-Dwarka

Nageshwar-Mahadev-Dwarka

Nageshwar-Jyotirling-temple-Dwarka

Nageshwar Jyotirling Dwarka

Nageshwar Jyotirling-Dwarka

Nageshwar Mahadev Dwarka

Bet Dwarka: The island where Lord Krishna resided (See photos)

The Dwarkadhish temple is considered the main attraction in Dwarka. But I personally beg to differ. For me, Bet Dwarka (‘bet’ translates to ‘island’) is the most important place of Krishna worship. You will get to know the reason as you read.

Bet Dwarka is an island situated some distance away from the main Dwarka town, which is called Krishnanagari or the land of Krishna. You are required to travel from Dwarka to Okha by road for about an hour. Once you reach Okha, you need to take a ferry to Bet Dwarka island. The ferry ride is around 15 minutes long.

It is a pleasant experience to travel through the sea to the island. We were worried about the heat just before boarding the ferry. But we didn’t think about the weather once the ferry took off. The beautiful waters and the sight of the island (as you reach near) will make you forget the high levels of heat.

Bet-Dwarka-island
Bet Dwarka shore

The ticket costs Rs 20 (as per September 2017). The seat inside the cabin of the ferry operator costs Rs 50. However, only locals are allowed to travel in the shade for reasons best known to them. But that’s not all. The ticket conductor refused to charge passengers who hailed from his village. Nobody knows how he recognizes people from his native.

It seems you can also get away from buying a ticket if you are related to some influential people. For example, during our return trip, when the ticket conductor arrived to give tickets, two men sitting next to me said with authority (in Gujarati), “We are Nareshbhai Joshi’s sons.” This was enough to allow them free travel. A Google search didn’t help in knowing who this man is.

Once you reach bet Dwarka, you realize that it isn’t a small island with not too many structures. It is like a proper village, very much like the main Dwarka city. There are plenty of shops selling whole lot of items, just like the vicinity outside the Dwarkadhish temple. Food and beverages stalls are also found in large numbers.

A number of such stalls lead to the main Bet Dwarka temple (cameras are strictly not allowed inside). This place is considered the residence of Lord Krishna once.

This is the reason why I consider Bet Dwarka as the most important site in Dwarka. The Dwarkadhish temple was built by Krishna’s grandson Vajranabha in His memory whereas Bet Dwarka is where Krishna actually stayed.

Coming back to the Bet Dwarka temple, once you enter, you are asked to gather at a place where a learned priest narrates the history of this place. He said that the room where we had gathered was the one where Krishna met his childhood friend Sudama after years (another reason why it’s important to me).

The custom was to never visit someone empty handed. As per the legend, Sudama gave Krishna some quantity of beaten rice as that was the only thing he could afford. In remembrance of the incident, devotees are given a fistful of beaten rice as prashaad. But instead of eating it directly, you are supposed to mix it with the stock of rice at your home.

You can also get a normal sweet prashaad.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures:

Bet Dwarka

Bet-Dwarka Ferry

Bet-Dwarka

Bet-Dwarka-boat

Bet-Dwarka-Ferry

Bet-Dwarka-jetty

Bet-Dwarka village

Bet-Dwarka-temple
The entrance to the temple

Bet-Dwarka-village

P_20170929_102626