Major Temples of Maharastra

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Temples of Maharastra - Mumbai Devi Mandir

Maa Mumbadevi temple in Mumbai is temple of Goddess Shakthi. The name of the city Mumbai is also derived from Maa Mumbadevi. The original temple built in 1737 at Victoria Terminus Station in Bori Bunder was demolished and a new temple was erected at Bhuleshwar.

This structure is said to be the handiwork of Mumbaraka who was a sadist giant frequently plundering the city. Terrorized by his atrocities during his visits, the local residents pleaded Lord Brahma to protect them. Then Brahma pulled out of his own body, an eight armed goddess who vanquished this demon.

Mumbaraka prays the goddess to take his name and built a temple in her honour. She is an orange faced goddess standing on an altar strewn with marigolds. This goddess personifies the Mother earth who is worshipped by the descendants of the Dravidian population of western and southern India.
 

Temples of Maharastra - Pune Parvati

The Parvati Hill situated in the south-east part of the Pune city was the place full of fields, trees and small dwellings during the Peshwa rule. It is believed that many camps were held by the feudal lords and dignitaries at this hill.

The main temple with presiding deity as Parvati built by the third Peshwa, Shrimant Nana Saheb in the year 1749 A.D has a legend. When Kashibai, the mother of the third Peshwa was suffering from a severe ailment in her right foot, one of her advisors informed her about a temple of Goddess to the South of Pune which was famous for its miraculous healing power.

Kashibai went to the temple which was located on top of this hill and prayed for her recovery. She vowed that if she was cured of her ailment, she would build a temple there. She soon recovered and her son built a temple on the hill.

 

Temples of Maharastra - Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

Sai Baba is one of the great saints of India who lived in the small village of Shirdi for sixty years. Now his Samadhi is located in the same place of Shirdi situated in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. He was a simple man with great spiritual perfection and never publicized himself in any way. But even today, his place is a great spiritual center drawing innumerable devotees from all over the world.

Sai Baba never revealed his identity such as his original name, time, birth place, religion and caste including the names of his parents. This made him emerge as a solution to all the religious and communal differences. He believes in Almighty god and equal opportunity for all the souls to reach the god. The name Sai Baba which means “Saint Father” was given to him by his first devotee Mahalsapathi.

Govind Raghunath Dabholkar, alias Hemadpant, wrote Shri Sai Satcharita originally in Marathi and later was translated into English by Gunaji. Even though the Baba’s whereabouts are unknown, according to one account, he was said to have been born to a Brahmin couple who gave the child to a Sufi Saint Roshan Shah for upbringing. But this account has no substantial evidences.

Shirdi Sai Baba demonstrated the omnipresence of God and revealed that the god knows everything that has happened, happening and will happen in the lives of all creatures in the world. According to him, even the omnipresence of god is also manifested in the non-living things.

The most important festivals and events of Shirdi are the Guru Poornima, the Dussehra, and the Ram Navami.

Temples of Maharastra - Sri Sateri Temple

Sri Sateri temple is situated in the village of Ansur about 4 Kms from Vengurla in Mumbai. The initial temple at the place was called as Mul Bhumikeche Mandir.

The legend of the temple is that a man from a Parab family marched ten miles every day to see Sri Sateri Devi. This continued for many years and the man became very old. It became very difficult for him to continue his daily schedule. But he still continued his visit and maintained his prayers with the same moderation and enthusiasm. Sri Sateri Devi delighted by his commitment and pledge, blessed him and promised to come near his residence itself. On the way back to his home, the old man noticed a dazzling view where a ground like construction was unexpectedly growing from the ground. He realized that it was none other than Sri Sateri Devi appearing at the peak. So he hugged the structure and requested the goddess Sateri Devi to stop growing. At once the structure stopped growing and that location today is popularly known as Shri Devi Sateri Mandir. Even the place got the name from this legend as Vengurle where Veng means a hug and Urle means remaining.

 

Temples of Maharastra - Pandavleni Caves

The Pandavleni caves are a group of Hinayana Buddhist Caves are built by the Jain Kings as the home for the Jain saints. These 2000 year old caves are located on a tableland on Trivashmi Hill about 8 km south of Nasik in Maharastra. The caves numbering around 24 contain the idols of Buddha and Bodhisatva and the icons of Jain Teerthankara Vrishabhdeo, Veer Manibhadraji and Ambikadevi. These caves were excavated in the 1st and 2nd century as abodes for the idols of the Jain kings.

There are many large caves which served as the Vihara or the Monastery for the disciples to meet and preach sermons. The cave complex consists of large Caves, which were probably the meeting place of disciples and areas of preaching sermons. Some caves are identical and some are unique. One of the caves is older and finer with excellent sculpture. This cave is believed to be as old as the Karla Caves of Lonavala. Another cave has a shrine or Chaitya which is also believed to be of the same age as that of Karla Caves. The attractive water tanks in the caves are skillfully carved out of solid rock for water management system in the caves.

 

Temples of Maharastra - Karla Caves

The Karla Caves are Buddhist caves lying in the Western Ghats about 114 kms from Mumbai. They are around 2,000 years old and have large collection of Chaityas or the halls. Most important of Karla Caves are the Bhaja and Bedsa caves.

These caves with Viharas were excavated for the Buddhist monks. They were built in the time of the Hinayana sect during the Satavahanas rule. There are around 350 steep steps leading to the caves. The entrance has a pillar from the Buddhist period. The facade of the caves has carved temple screens, sculpted with railing ornaments and human couples. The panels of the wooden doors and windows are finely decorated with intricate sculptures.

When in 17th century AD the Mahayana sect became popular, the representations of Buddha also became more common. The central doorway has the sculptures of the Buddha preaching while seated on a lion-supported throne, along with magnificent carvings of three elephants. There are fifteen pillars on each side separating the narrow aisles from the central arch. The Chaitya halls of the caves were meant for congregational worship and the viharas were meant to be the dwelling place of the monks.

 

Temples of Maharastra - Bhuleshwar Temple

The Bhuleshwar Temple is located at about 50 Kms from Pune. It is a very cool place with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity. It is believed that the temple was built during the era of Pandavas. Originally it was a fort called as the Mangalgadh. But the present temple built in 13th century has walls dominating the beautiful carvings of stone.

The temple is historically of great significance and it is believed that it is at this place Devi Parvati danced for Lord Shiva after which they went to Mount Kailash and got married. The temple festivals are mainly during Shravan and Mahashivarathri.

 

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