Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ashtavinayak - Ballaleshwar of Pali - December 16, 2012

We decided to visit temple of Ballaleshwar (बल्लाळेश्वर), Lord Ganesh, at Pali (पाली) - one of the Ashtavinayakas (अष्टविनायक).

We left Pune at 7.15 am and took the Sinhagad Road to pick my in-laws on the way. We went through the Old Pune-Mumbai Highway (NH-4) and reached Khopoli (खोपोली). By 9.15 am, we were eating Batata Wada Sambaar at Ramakant.

From Khopoli we took a road towards Pen (पेण). After 4 kms there comes an over-bridge above Pune-Mumbai Express Highway. After crossing this bridge, take immediate Left towards Pali and Wakan (वाकण). Straight goes to Pen and Alibaag (अलिबाग).

By 10.30 am we reached Pali. This was my second visit here after our Alibaag trip 2 years ago. There is a car parking just opposite the temple entrance. It is a paid parking with charges of Rs. 20 per hour. There is one more free parking behind this one.

The temple as well as the town is situated just by the side of a massive fort Sarasgad (सरसगड). River Aamba (आंबा) also flows nearby. Actually we crossed the bridge on that river on the way.
This is the only Ganesh amongst Ashtavinayakas which is named after his devotee Ballal (बल्लाळ). The story goes that there was a Brahmin boy named Ballal who was engrossed in the devotion to Lord Ganesh. He use to take his friends (other village kids) also along for the Ganesh Pooja. Villagers disapproved this act. Once his father caned Ballal and tied him to a tree in the forest while he was performing his Pooja. He also damaged the Ganesh Idol & left, leaving Ballal to die in that forest. At that time, Lord, impressed by Ballal's devotion, himself appeared before him and granted him a wish. Ballal wished that the Lord to remain in that village permanently. Ganesha obliged by staying there by the name of Ballaleshwar (Ballal's Lord).

This story is written there in another small temple just prior to the main temple - Dhundi-Vinayak Temple (धुन्डी-विनायक). There is a board written there, that this temple is to be visited before entering the main temple. Dhundi-Vinayak is the idol which Ballal used to worship and his father had destroyed.

Main Temple is about 50 feet away from here, made of black stone. It is said that this stone construction was done during the time of Peshwas. Earlier it was a wooden structure. Even the insides of the temple show some wooden structure (pillars and beams). There is one stone crusher (जाते in Marathi) kept outside which was used during that period to crush limestone for construction.

Lord Ganesh is East facing with Diamonds in its both eyes and naval. Outside the Main Sanctorum there is a Secondary Sanctorum which houses a Mouse (vehicle of the Lord) with a laddoo in its hands. Opposite these two Sanctorums is the Principal Hall having pillars on both sides with a large bell tied on thick chains. It was gifted by Chimaji Appa (चिमाजी अप्पा) - Military Commander of Peshwes, younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa (बाजीराव पेशवा). He had looted it from one of the Churches after his win over the Portuguese. Outside is a water body equivalent to a small lake.

After a satisfying Darshan, we left for Unhere (उन्हेरे) - place famous for its Hot Water Springs. From Pali we went ahead towards Waakan road. About 2 kms from here after a bridge on a river (supposed to be Aamba again) is a Right turn (info boards are available). 1 km from here is this Scientific & Natural Attraction. There are two stone constructed water baths (कुंड) over the water springs. One among them is covered, reserved for women.

The specialty is that the water is noticeably hot in these Kund. The temperature, they say, is in between 40 to 60 degree Celsius. This is due to the high Sulphur content in the water and its reaction with water salts. You can smell a different Sulphurous odour when you go nearby.

It is said that this water possesses medicinal value for curing skin diseases and allergies.

Only problem is that the water is stagnant. It is not a flowing water. Everybody just enters inside this common bath. This actually should be prevented. People should take the water out using a bucket and they should bathe outside. We actually saw a person sitting by the side and cleaning his teeth.

So I would recommend just to see this unbelievable place, dip your feet and witness the hotness of water and return, considering the unhygienic conditions here. Actually, I would not say this to be a "must seen" place. In case you visit Pali or a place nearby, you can see this place as it is just 3 kms from Pali and the visit will not cost you more than 15 mins of your time.

There is one Vitthal-Rakhmabai temple also between those two Kunds.

From here we decided to return back to Pune. We took the same route back.

We took a lunch stop at Lonavala at Hotel Gurukripa. Nice food, cheap. From here we went to see the Celebrations Wax Museum. Though I had seen it in last March, my In-Laws hadn't. This time I counted the statues - 35 in numbers. It was a nice refreshing second visit, because they had changed the arrangements and some interior renovations are made. I got to know additional information - the statues of Living people are made by taking their measurements while those of people who have died are made using photographs only. Secondly, these statues are made of 6 parts which are disassembled for cleaning and the clothes are changed once a month.

From here we returned back to Pune at 5.00 pm.

Odometer readings:
00 kms         Narayan Peth, Pune
78 kms         Lonavala (via Sinhagad Road and Bangalore-Mumbai Bypass road and then the Old Mumbai Highway)

91 kms         Khopoli exit after Khandala on common Express Highway & Old Mumbai Highway

96 kms         Hotel Ramakant, Khopoli
99 kms         LH turn towards Pali and Waakan; straight will go to Pen
140 kms       Pali
143 kms       Unhere

Return journey
181 kms       RH turn towards Khopoli; LH will go to Pen
185 kms       Khopoli
203 kms       Lonavala
206 kms       Wax Museum
280 kms       Narayan Peth, Pune

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Potholes of Nighoj : Ranjan-Khalge - December 9, 2012

Nighoj (निघोज) was a long pending place in my trip plan; which happened last week. We left Pune at 7.30 am. We took got connected to the Pune-Nagar Road (SH-27) at Yerawada via the Sangamwadi bridge from Wakdewadi.

On the way there is a very unique place, for Maharashtra at least  a place called Chincholi Morachi (चिन्चोली मोराची). Here Peacocks are seen in abundance. They say there are about 2500 peacocks in that village. They are seen roaming in the fields there.

There is a place called Shikrapur (शिक्रापुर) about 40 kms from Pune after Lonikand and Koregaon Bheema. We took left from here. This road goes to Chincholi Morachi. However, to see the peacocks, the best time is just after Sunrise or just before Sunset. Since we reached there by 8.30 am, we decided not to waste time in searching for them. Our target for the day was Nighoj and we wanted to return back home by lunch. Hence we did some breakfast in one of the hotels here. We could here peacock calls from nearby fields. We tried to go bit inside, but didn't find any. Now my plan is to come here early morning, just here and not combine with any other spot, so that we can venture peacefully.

After breakfast, we moved ahead. Just note that there is no need to turn back all the way till Shikrapur if you need to go towards Nighoj and Nagar. Take the road towards Malthan which will take you to Shirur and Pune-Nagar Highway.

While we were past Malthan (मळठण), we were thinking to go till Shirur and then take the road towards Nighoj. However, after 5 kms from Malthan we got a signboard for Nighoj towards LH. We took that. About 12 kms from here just prior to one bridge on a canal there is a RH turn. No markings were there. By luck we asked some of the locals and we got that road. It was a very dusty road of about a kilometer by the canal. I don't think that would be wise to go through this road in rains.

The potholes are about 2 kms away from Nighoj village. By this route, we directly went to the Potholes. This place is a very small rocky area where the river Kukadi (कुकडी) flows with some specific shaped gorge. During rainy season, this geology creates a force which results in the erosion of the rocks below. The stones and pebbles get entangled in these pot-holes and they turn and rotate massively thus causing more erosion and the shape of a large water cistern (रांजण in Marathi). Hence the name Ranjan-Khalge (रांजण-खळगे).

These are called as Hydro-Geomorphological Formations. It takes many years to form one these potholes. These are only of its type found in Asia.

There are so many potholes of various shapes and sizes. Two small potholes are formed initially side-by-side. And due to further erosion, the walls between these potholes collapse and they merge together as one large pothole. You can see the smooth finish on the walls of these potholes (as if done by some skilled Potter or with a machine).

There is one temple here of a Goddess by the name Maalganga (माळगंगा). There is some story of 7 sisters, avatars of the Goddess. 3 of them are here (one can see 3 faces of the Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. Other 4 are somewhere down the river bank. Every year during Janmashtami, an earthen pot appears in the cannon from bottom of the river. Devotees gather here to witness this miracle.

From here we decided to turn back. We took the more common road this time. We went to Nighoj village and from here got connected to the Pune-Nagar Highway. Took Right towards Pune and reached home by 1.30 pm.

Some snaps:

River Kukadi flowing through the Gorge

Temple of Goddess Maalganga
Suspension Bridge over the gorge
Odometer readings:

00 kms          Narayan Peth
26 kms          Lonikand
30 kms          Koregaon Bheema
41 kms          Shikrapur - take LH here for Chincholi Morachi; straight till Shirur for Nighoj

59 kms         Chincholi Morachi
68 kms         Malthan
73 kms         LH towards Nighoj
85 kms         RH on a dusty road by the canal
88 kms         Potholes

Return journey
90 kms        Nighoj village
114 kms      Pune-Nagar Road
148 kms      Shikrapur
190 kms      Pune

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Experiment with Star Trail Photography - @ Telbaila - November 25, 2012

Our senior photographer friend, Mr. Vivek Kale (we had visited Rajgad in September 2012), had organised a Star Trail Photography workshop. Location was Telbaila (तेल-बैला).

We started off from COEP, Shivajinagar at 12.15 pm. Vivek picked me up in his Santro. One more person Sandeep was also there. On the way we picked up Sam and Balasaheb.

We took the Old Pune-Mumbai Highway (NH-4). We reached Lonavala (लोणावळा). At Lonavla, we took left on a Railway Overbridge (the road that goes to Bhushi Dam and INS Shivaji).

The road goes by the dam wall (constructed on Lonavala Lake). A little ahead on the left one can see the board for parking for Bhushi (भुशी) Dam. Even ahead of that there is a Y-section. INS Shivaji is on right while the road uphill on the left goes to Sahara Amby-valley.

Cross the Tiger Hill (it is referred as Lion Point on Google Maps) a short distance from INS Shivaji. It is a good scenic view point. A photography pit-stop can be taken here to get freshen-up. After that, Fort Korigad or Koraigad (कोरिगड / कोराइगड) is seen on the left hand side.

Just after Korigad, a road turns towards right; straight road goes to Amby Valley. From here will start the real test for your vehicle. The road is extremely rough. Nothing to worry if you drive carefully. A village by the name Saalter (साल्तेर) passes by.

About 5 kms from here one can see the Tel-baila rock patch standing tall ahead.

We parked our car at the village. It was 4.30 pm. We set to explore the location in order capture some shots before the sun-set.

We had no plans to climb the hill. Our objective was to capture the Star Trail Photograpy at the backdrop of Tel-baila.

It is actually a hill till half-way. Similar to our Parvati (पर्वती) back in Pune, easier to reach. There is a small temple of Bhairavnath (भैरवनाथ) as well as a water cisterns. Presence of water may very well indicate that this cliff must have been used as a observation tower in the history.

But the real fun and adventure starts above that point. There are two large stone girders forming a rock patch; climbing which is not recommended for everybody. Should be done under supervision of expert trekkers, with proper equipment.
It seemed as if Two wafer biscuits are kept on a Cake

Star Trail Photography:
In short it is the capture of motion of stars using long exposures. Actually the result which comes is not due to motion of stars, but the motion of Earth. But since our camera moves with the Earth, it gives the effect of Stars motion.

Technically, one should be at a place away from city to avoid surrounding light (Light Pollution), mount the camera on a tripod, manual focus to infinity, use large apertures (low value) and very slow shutter-speed (large exposures) of about 30-40 minutes.

However, such large exposures have its own problems - sensor getting hot leading to noise problem and over-exposure.

To avoid this, there is another technique. About 60 to 80 continuous snaps are taken each with 30 secs exposure. These are then merged together using photo-editing software.

We identified our location for the experiment. By the time Sun went down, we set our cameras and waited for the stars to show up. Since I didn't had a tripod and a remote switch, I was observing others doing it.

Then we started the camera to take 80 snaps of 30 secs each. So there were these 40 minutes when we had nothing much to do. So we opened our tiffin boxes and had a quick dinner; occasionally trying to figure out whether there is any leopard nearby ...  ;-)

The best time for Star Trail Photography is that time of the Lunar Calender when the moon is neither bright (nights nearer to Full Moon - पोर्णिमा) nor it is totally absent (nights nearer to the New Moon - अमावस्या). Bright moon makes the Stars disappear because of its light, while its absence makes so many Stars available in the sky which results in a clustered photograph. The better time is during the eighth day of the Lunar Calender - अष्टमी.

We took the first click at 7.15 and the last one exactly 40 minutes.

From here we got back to our car. It was 8.00 pm. We decided to get near the Navra-Navri cha Dongar (नवरा-नवरी चा डोंगर) for one more attempt at Star Trail.

Navra-Navri cha Dongar actually is a twin hill side-by-side and hence referred so (Hill of Bride And Groom). It is also called as Taj-Mahal because of its resemblance when seen from a distance.

We reached the place by the name Bhamburde (भाम्बुर्डे) which is at base of "that" Taj-Mahal. It was 8.30 pm. We started one more Star Trail of 30 minutes. We were photographing with our tripods set in the middle of the road. With covered trees around, that time of the night was feeling as if it was already midnight. There must have been a temple around as the Bhajans and Aarti were heard.
Photo captured by me by putting the camera
on our car roof - Exposure of 30 secs
Star Trail - Photo captured by Mr. Vivek Kale
We wrapped our session by 9.15 pm and started for our return journey. We had planned to return via Tamhini-Mulshi (ताम्हिणी-मुळशी) route. We joined this route just before Niwe (नीवे) village, and reached Pune via Paud (पौड), Pirangut (पिरन्गुट) and Chandani Chowk (चांदणी चौक).

Odometer Readings:
00 kms         Narayan Peth
60 kms         Lonavala - take a LH turn towards Bhushi Dam and INS Shivaji
80 kms         Fort Koraigad
85 kms         Saalter village
91 kms         Tel-baila

Return journey
96 kms         "Y" section - take RH towards Tamhini; LH will go back to Lonavala

99 kms         Bhamburde - Navra Navri cha Dongar
126 kms       Mulshi-Tamhini Road - take LH here towards Pune - then comes Niwe village

176 kms       Paud - then comes Pirangut and Chandani Chowk
190 kms       Pune

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Indore, A trip down memory lane_October 2012

We were planning a small family trip and we wanted it to be prior to Diwali. Tarkarli-Sindhudurga (Konkan), Ajantha-Ellora (Aurangabad), Gujarat were on the cards; when my wife suggested Indore. It was like a nostalgia for me. I just jumped over this suggestion and plan was finalised in seconds.

I was in Indore for 4 years during 2003 to 2006. It's been 6 long years since I left the place and even after thinking and wanting to visit there, somehow it didn't materialize. It was in a way a surprise gift that my wife presented to me.

Dates were finalised, train bookings for return journey were made one and half month in advance. Stay was not a problem as her maternal uncle live there. Pune-Indore booking was made 10 days before in a AC Sleeper Bus.

With all set, we started off from Pune on October 13, 2012 (Saturday) night. Our bus was scheduled for 9.00 pm departure. And it did start within acceptable time delay.

Indore is the largest city in the state of Madhya Pradesh (though the State Capital being Bhopal). It's the Commercial Capital of MP and the most developed city. It also has a very important reverence in history. Ruled by the Holkars under Maratha Rule, it was a prominent city in the Malwa Plateau in that time. Indore was the Capital of Holkars all the while except for some years in between when Ahilyabai Holkar shifted it to Maheshwar (about 70 kms away).

October 14, 2012: A plate of Poha for breakfast when our bus stopped at a hotel near Dhamnod brought ahead my memories of 6 years ago. I remembered that bus used to stop at a place named Dudhi for breakfast at a dhaba, we used to pass-by the millitary cantonment area Mhow. All this is avoided now with a newly constructed bypass road.

We reached Indore by 9.30 in the morning. As the bus passed through the known places like Rau, Rajendra Nagar, Bhanwar Kuan, I was continuously trying to look around any known signs (hotels, bank ATMs and statues) which were there when I left 6 years back. I could find some and I could realize too that Indore has changed quiet. We reached our uncle's home at a place called Chaani. This was going to be our base camp.

In the evening, we took an auto and went to an attraction newly made - Vaishno Devi Temple (similar to the one we have in Pune). The one at Indore was much bigger and grand as compared to the one in Pune. The location is somewhere near these coordinates 22 42' 06.07"N  75 51' 00.07"E

October 15, 2012: Our next day's plan was a historical place called Mandu or Mandav which is about 110 kms from Indore. We had booked a Taxi which set-off from Indore at 8 am. We took the outer Ring Road for Manpur (on AB Road towards Mumbai). From Manpur take an exit towards Manpur-Lebad Toll Road on the Right.

Odometer readings:
Indore        00 kms
Manpur       70 kms  --> take Right for Manpur-Lebad Road
Bagadi        88 kms
Mandu        110 kms

Just prior we reach the Mandu city walls, there is a scenic valley on the left. Well constructed view points can be easily noticed. There is one waterfall as well, which would be a beautiful scene in monsoons.

After a brief stop here we moved ahead. (There is also one Fossil Museum just next to this place. However, since was very sunny and getting hot, we didn't stop here.)

From here start the wall fortifications of the old Mandu City. Out of the many doors from where our car passed, I could remember few --> Bhangi Darwaza, Alamgir Darwaza, Gaadi Darwaza, etc.

Mandu has an important place in the history of Malwa region. It was founded by Raja Bhoj to be later captured by Muslim rulers. Mandu is also made well-known due to a love story between Baaz Bahadur, last Sultan of Malwa and Rani Roopmati, a Rajput Singer.

Baaz Bahadur Palace

Raani Roopmati Pavilion - the terrace from where Narmada-ji can be seen

The love story, as told by the locals (and Guides), is no less than a Hindi Movie Story.

Rani Roopmati was a Hindu (Rajput) wife of a Muslim Sultan of Malwa, Baaz Bahadur. It is said that Roopmati didn't took a morsel of food unless she took darshan of River Narmada. For this Baaz Bahadur is said to have built a Pavilion on a top of a hillock in 48 hours. This was to help Rani Roopmati to take Darshan of Narmada-ji even though the flow few kms away.
Baaz Bahadur Palace - seen from Roopmati Pavilion
Baaz Bahadur didn't looked after the kingdom. He didn't bother to have a good army and didn't maintain strong defense to the kingdom. He was always devoted to arts and other joys of life.
Adham Khan, General of Emperor Akbar's army, led an attack on Malwa. Reason - his love for Rani Roopmati. Baaz Bahadur suffered a defeat in the Battle of Sarangpur in 1561. Baaz Bahadur fled to avoid death or arrest. Seeing the loss, Rani Roopmati consumed poison and died.

Baaz Bahadur regained his lost kingdom again, but only for a short while. Akbar's another army again defeated him and Baaz Bahadur fled for one more time. He remained a fugitive and eluded arrest for a long time.

Finally, he surrendered before Akbar and joined his service in 1570.

Indeed an Hindi Film was made on the subject - Rani Roopmati in 1957. Not sure whether both stories match.

Roopmati Pavilion (रूपमती मंडप) is a memory to a brave Queen who accepted death instead of falling prey to the enemy's lust; the Queen who was betrayed by her husband, Sultan of Malwa, by joining the services of her killer.

Today also, in a clear weather, River Narmada is seen as a thin shining silver line near the horizon from top of the pavilion. There are various airy & cool rooms below for the residence of the Queen & her maids. A very forward technique (for that era) of Rain-water Harvesting is seen here. Rain water is routed through gang-ways, filtered and stored. The system is still in use today and same cool water is being provided for drinking for tourists.
Water Storage System - Roopmati Pavilion

Roop Kund
Roopmati Pavilion & Baaz Bahadur Palace are at the extreme other end of Mandu. While returning back, we went to see another attraction, Jahaaj Mahal (जहाज़ महल).

As the name, the extravagant palace is constructed between two Lakes - Munja & Kapur. During monsoons when the lake is full, the construction makes the palace appear to be a large Ship swirling due to anchored near a sea-shore.

It is a double storeyed structure with a terrace on the top. There are large rooms with side facing a garden and a walk-way between Kapur Talao (Lake) while the other side is just by side of Munja Talao.

The far end of the Palace has a Lotus-shaped open-to-air bath.

Jahaj Mahal is said to have built by Sultan Ghiasuddin during late 14th century. It is supposed to be a Harem (a secluded house allotted to women) for the amusement of the Sultan.

There's one Hindi Song filmed at this Palace - "Naam Gum Jaayega" from the Movie "Kinaara" starring Hema Malini & Jeetendra.

Jahaaj Mahal
Jahaaj Mahal - Terrace

Jahaaj Mahal - Kapur Talao (Lake)
Jahaaj Mahal - Lotus shaped bath

There is one more Palace by the name Jal Mahal inside Munj Talao. It can be seen from Jahaj Mahal; however, entry there is restricted.

It is said that when Emperor Shahajahan & Queen Mumtazmahal visited Mandav, they has stayed here.
Jal Mahal in Munj Talao (Lake)
Behind the Jahaj Mahal, there is one more building by the name Hindola Mahal (हिंडोला महल).
Hindola Mahal
The name in English means "Swinging Palace". The slanting reinforcements which are seen from outside give the palace this name. This is actually audience chamber, sort of Deewan-e-aam. The tall arch construction shown below could allow the King to enter inside mounted on an elephant.
Hindola Mahal - insides
Next to Hindola Mahal is the Champa Bawadi (चंपा बावडी). Bawadi means a Well. However, living rooms are constructed around it to have a cooling effect inside due to the water.
Champa Bawadi
There are many Hamams (actually, public baths which are present even today in Middle Eastern countries; in history, these were the bathrooms for Royal Ladies of a Harem). The water flow method constructed for Hot & Cold Water is amazing.

Apart from above mentioned places there are some other attractions too. There is a Mosque constructed on the same lines of Agra's Taj Mahal- supposedly by the same architects & workers. There is a temple of Lord Rama too.

By the time we finished Jahaj Mahal, it was 2 pm. My son had walked around the whole Jahaj Mahal all alone, and hence had got bored by now. Also, we had seen the main attractions of Mandu. Hence we decided to have a lunch break and return back to Indore. We went to Malwa Resort, a MP Tourism run resort. We just visited their restaurant, however it was far ahead of our own MTDC of Maharashtra by means of Quality, Cleanliness, Appearance. Dining inside were two groups of Foreigners (whom we don't see in MTDC). Location of the resort is awesome, ditto to MTDC.

I have decided to visit Mandu once again, stay here and then coolly explore the place in detail.

October 16, 2012: Next morning also we started off at 8 am. We took the Khandwa Road from Bhanwar-kuan.

0 km          Indore
20 kms       Simrol
25 kms       Bheroo Ghat
30 kms       Shani Mandir
62 kms       Badawah
78 kms       Omkareshwar

Return journey:
98 kms       Badawah --> go towards Dhamnod
117 kms     Pipliya
141 kms     Mandleshwar
148 kms     Maheshwar
162 kms     Dhamnod
260 kms     Indore

Just after crossing Bheroo Ghat there is a Navagraha Shani Mandir on the left. It is possible you might miss this if it is not a Saturday. This is the only Navagraha Shani Temple, they say, which is constructed as per the Vastu-Shaastra. Idols of Lord Ganesh & Lord Hanuman face to completely other directions as against the others. Secondly, this is only temple which I have seen has separate idols of All Nine Planets (mythological) - Shani (Saturn), Mangal (Mars), Budh, Guru (Jupitor), Shukra, Surya (Sun), Chandrama (Moon), Rahu & Ketu. Remember, in our puranas the Sun & the Moon are considered as Planets, while Rahu and Ketu do not exist scientifically today.

Navagraha Shani Mandir
After Badawah comes a bridge over Narmada River. The water body is so vast. It might be feeling as an ocean when it flows full in monsoons. If Narmada is like this, how gigantic would Ganga be.

We took breakfast at a dhaba just after this bridge. This place is called Khedighat. People take bath here in Narmada. Poha-Jalebi was awesome and Aloo-bada was too spicy.

We reached Omkareshwar by 10.30 am. You need to park the vehicle on the bank of Narmada and cross to the other side for the Omkareshwar temple. Pedestrian bridge in concrete is available as well as boats are available. Another rope suspension bridge is newly made for pedestrians.

Since we had planned this trip on Tuesday, there was no rush at all. We could easily reach the temple without any queue. There we witnessed many people who offer their services to offer various types of Pujas and quick darshan. And surprisingly they bargain the rates with you.

We went through the pedestrian bridge, however if you are carrying a child or have elderly person with you, its better you take a boat. Because bridge is long walk.

We had a satisfying darshan on Omkareshwar. We came to know that there is another Shiv-linga above the Main Temple. But we came to know from our driver that there is another Shiv-linga which is open to public on Naag-Panchami a legend says that a serpant appears during that time.

Walk Bridge over Narmada - to reach the Main Temple

Mamaleshwar Temple - seen in black stone in the centre

Omkareshwar Main Temple - a dam wall is seen at the back
There is one more simple yet beautiful temple carved in black stone - Mamaleshwar - on the opposite side of Omkareshwar Main Temple, near Car Parking. It is believed that this is the Main Jyotirlinga and not the Omkareshwar that is believed to be. This was a surprise for me. The Sanskrit Shloka describes 12 Jyotirlingas as:

सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्। उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्। सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे। हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः। सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥
एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति। कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥:
द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम्


From here we moved towards Maheshwar, a town on the banks of Narmada. To reach here we came back all the way till Badawaha. From here there is a left turn towards Dhamnod. Maheshwar is on this road at about 50 kms.

The town has reference as old as in Mahabharata. It was referred as Mahishmati then. Recent history says that Maheshwar servred as a Capital of Holkars for some period before shifting it back to Indore. Ahilyadevi Holkar ruled from here.

There is a residence of Ahilyadevi which is now converted into a small museum.
Residence of Ahilyadevi Holkar
There was one inscription of a water tank written in Marathi while one information of Ahilya also in Marathi. I felt so proud seeing a Marathi information here.

The above line says that the "Queen of a prosperous, rich & powerful state who did charity of crores of rupees used to stay in this simple way; this place is a Home, a Temple of Ahilyadevi and not a Palace. It's difficult to find such a simple and plain house of a Queen in the whole World".

Steps go down from here towards the banks of Narmada. On the left is the famous spinning industry of Maheshwari Sarees while on the right you can see the Shiva Temple of Raj-rajeshwar.

People perform Narmada-snaan here. There are many temples of various deities on the bank of the river. The steps are well laid which disappear in the water. They are well maintained. Boating facility is available.

I would suggest to enjoy the water here instead of at Omkareshwar. It is extremely clean here and there is not that rush. It is safe to enter inside the water here.

The Ghat is extremely Beautiful. It is Grand, Huge and comparable to the Imposing Narmada flowing in front of it. Intricate carvings looked awesome on a yellow stone in the harsh Sun.

We went for a boat ride. He took us to a Baneshwar Temple within the river. It is an extremely small Shiva Temple surrounded by water. The ride was refreshing.
Maheshwar - Photo taken from a boat ride to Baneshwar Temple
Maheshwar - Photo taken from a boat ride to Baneshwar Temple
Maheshwar Ghat (River Bank)
Maheshwar Ghat (River Bank)

Many shootings happen here - Hindi movie Asoka, some South Indian songs are shot here.

We turned back to the Raj-rajeshwar (Shiva) Temple, a master-piece in black stone carvings; equivalent to the Ghat outside.

Maheshwar is also famous for its Maheshwari Sarees (printed cotton sarees). There is an NGO which runs a textile shop here where these sarees are manufactured & sold. There is shop also just outside the main gate. Apart from that these sarees are available in many shops in the town.

We resided for lunch at another MP Tourism Resort, Narmada Retreat. We had the same experience the way had yesterday in Mandu.

After the lunch we returned back to Indore.

October 17, 2012: Next we decided to take some rest and explore Indore instead. Earlier we had planned for Ujjain. But dropped the idea as we had traveled a lot till now and secondly I haven't showed Indore to my wife (even I haven't visited last 6 years).

In the morning we went to see the Zoo (in the heart of Indore, the AB Road near Chaavni) which housed many wild animals. It was a fun for my son. From here we took Mama-ji's Activa and went to explore Indore. We went to Chhappan (56) Dukan via Nehru Pratima, Relax Theatre and MG Road. I wanted to go to Treasure Island (had extremely fond memories of this First Mall in Indore), but to lack of time I satisfied myself by looking at it from outside :-(

Chappan Dukan (often referred to as just Chappan) actually, they say, are the 56 shops & hotels selling food items. I haven't counted them though. We had our morning pile-up of Indori Cuisine. Did some shopping of Namkeen for ourselves and friends and relatives back home.

In the evening we went to Mhow for shopping, good & cheap clothes are available there. Sangam Barfi of Bhanwarilal is famous here.

Night at 10 we went to see the Highlight of Indore, The Rajwada. It has a very emotional place in every Indori's heart. Going to Indore and not visiting this place is Crime.

Rajwada was constructed by Holkars, the rulers of Indore, sometime in the 17th century. Currently it houses the of office of Ahilyabai Holkar Trust. It was renovated in 2007 after damaged during 1984 riots in Indore. A beautiful yet simple garden is developed in front it. Statue of seated Devi Ahilyabai Holkar overlooks the garden in front of the main gate. It is surrounded by various types of markets selling clothes, household items, jewellery, etc - Aada Bazaar, Saantha Bazaar, etc.

There isn't anything inside the Rajwada to look at. However, the external renovation, they say, is exactly the way it was 250 years ago - a 7 storey huge Rajwada.

The area is by-far the most happening place in Indore even today (the era of Multiplexes & Shopping malls).

In front of this Heritage Building there is a Paan-wala who feeds the Paan in the customer's mouth and the shop is open 24x7.

As you go by the side of Rajwada at its back side, there is another attraction of Indore - The Sarafa (Bazar). It has jewellery shops during the daytime which when closed in the evenings, the platforms of these shops are occupied of Foodies Vendors. You name of food item and it is available, Chat, Pani-puri, Dahi-bada, Maalpua, Gulab-jamun, Pav-bhaj, South Indian, Chinese, Garadu, Gajak, Shikanji, Ice-cream, Ice-gola, and the list may still continue. And these delicacies continue till 2 am.

"Joshi-ji kaa Dahi-bada" is famous for the way it is served. The owner tosses the Dahi-bada (Dahi-bhalla) plate in the air, rotating, so that the masala gets mixed-up properly in the curd. Nice to watch. You can search about it on Google. Even a video is available on YouTube.

Rajwada, Sarafa & Chappan are the 3 places that cannot be missed if you visit Indore. Apart from that there is Khajarana Ganesh Temple, Bada Ganapati, Kaanch Mandir, Indreshwar Mahadeo Temple (on whom Indore is named), Annapurna Temple (based on Meenaxi Temple of South India), Treasure Island, Patal-pani Waterfalls (near Indore), etc.

We didn't visited these due to lack of time. But when we visit next time, it will be dedicated to places in Indore & Ujjain.

October 18, 2012: We boarded the afternoon train Indore-Pune Express (19312) which departs from Indore Junction at 1430 hours & reach Pune next morning at 0810.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Madhe (मढे) Ghat, A tribute to a Warrior - October 7, 2012

It was more than a year after my last visit with our Photography Club to Mahabaleshwar. Hence, this was in a way much awaited.

We started off by 7.30 am. Bus came about an hour late, as usual. We took the Sinhagad Road - Donje Phata - Paabe Ghat Road, the one we took in our Rajgad trek last month.

After Paabe Ghat you come across a "T"-Joint (with Nasarapur-Velhe Road). Last month for Rajgad we had taken Left. Now for Velhe, Fort Torana (तोरणा) and Madhe Ghat we took Right. As you move ahead, you can see the mighty Torana on your left.

A little ahead there is a left turn towards Velhe - a small town which is the base village for Torana. Along the base of the fort take a right turn by the foothill. Encircling the fort the road goes at the back via Gunjawani (गुन्जवणी) Dam - a picturesque location. One might pass on the photo below as taken somewhere in Europe. Coordinates: 18° 17' 52.63"N, 73° 37' 27.94"E.
Gunjavani Dam - on the foothills of Torana, Velhe Town
We had our breakfast and tea here. We had brought it from Pune itself. After about half-an-hour's break, we moved ahead.

There is a place by the name Kelaad (केळाद). Here there is a T-joint again. Take Right for Madhe Ghat (small sign board is available).

The road goes over a bridge and ends ahead. Tar road stops here. Some rocky and muddy patch is seen ascending straight upwards. A 2-wheeler can still go up, but its better to park a car or a bus here and start walking.

After about half-a-km walk comes small plateau (flat area might remind you of the table land at Panchgani). It was covered with lush greenery with yellow flowers of the season. Clouds were moving around the field creating misty environment. The plateau ends with a deep valley. What you see below is the Konkan region of Maharashtra.

Coordinates: 18° 12' 4.28"N, 73° 34' 39.72"E.

This is the Madhe (मढे) Ghat - a relatively unknown place located like a stone's throw distance towards south-west of Pune in the vicinity of Torna Fort.

This place has a unique reference in our history. One of the greatest warriors under Shivaji, Narveer Tanaji Malusare (नरवीर तनाजी मालूसरे) laid down his life in the battle of Sinhagad (सिंहगड़), a fort not very far from here. He belonged to Konkan. His body was taken for last rites in his native village Umarathe near Poladpur through this route. Hence the name - Madha (मढ़) in Marathi means "dead body".

There was this stream of water coming from somewhere and falling down in the valley. We were not able to capture anything of it. We took some shots here.

However what we saw from other side of the plateau, this was not just any stream of water. It was forming an awesome waterfall more than 50-60 feet in height.


The day was very cloudy. It tested our patience while trying to shoot this waterfall. Initially for 15 minutes, there were only clouds and nothing else. Slowly the clouds started to clear off and the view behind it started to appear, as if came out of nowhere. Then this view started to play hide-n-seek with us. Just tempting us with its view and by the time we took some shots, it covered itself up.

After a satisfying experience as well as photographs, we turned back for our return journey by 5.30 pm.

Returning, we took the more simpler but longer route from Velhe to Nasarapur. We avoided Paabe Ghat since it was already getting darker and driving a bus in dark on those small and steep roads would be difficult. We joined NH-4 at Nasarapur and reached Pune at 8.30 pm via Khed-shivapur toll and Katraj Ghat.

The place is about 70 kms from Pune.

Route Map: