Wari

June/Jule 2008: Since childhood we had heard about the anual Wari piligrimage which takes place in the month of Aashadh which per Julian Calander would be June/July. As we used to keep moving our base due to father’s transferable job, I could not attend it. So finally when we were well setled in Pune and the oppurtunity which I was waiting for knocked on the door when Ashk asked us to join him for it. It was Sunday and so we all could go there. The plan was to first meet at Ashk’s place, then along with Ram go to Hadapsar at Sandy’s place and then head to Solapur road/Saswad road to take darshan of Paduka’s and join the Wari till the Saswad leg and return. Unfortuanelty I had some appointments later in the afternoon and so I was going to join the Wari till the start of the Deve ghat and then return.

So I woke up early, got ready and went to Ashk’s place. I was to come on my own bike as I had to return before others. We then moved towards Hadapsar and went to Sandy’s place to park our vehicles and walk the remaining way, which we had planed to start immediately. But Sandy had made all the arrangements for Breakfast and tea. After having a nice poha and tea, we were on our way.

We were heading towards the Saswad road, for which we crossed the Gliding Center on which we learnt few things that day. Per Sandy, this huge ground is used to fly the gliders and they also offer rides for newbies for a ticket. We were excited to do it one day, but Sandy was worried that it does not have an engine and more importantly can it hold him 🙂 . Nevertheless that was for another day. As we reached the road, we were not sure if the Palki has passed or not. So we walked back to Solapur junction and it seems Palki had just reached there.

Every year as part of Wari, Palki of Dnyaneshwar maharaj and Tukaram maharaj start from Alandi and Dehu respectively and make a 21 days journey to the temple of god Vithoba at Pandharpur on the day of Ashadhi Ekadashi. Today was the 4th/5th day and the palki was to start from Pune city, where it had rested yesterday and pass through Hadapsar -> Deve Ghat and then rest for the night at Saswad. There were so many people, one can call it a sea of humanity, but no chaos pure order and bhakti. People were walking happily, chanting abhangas and greeting one another as Mauli.  All were equal and same. We saw the Palki approaching and we headed towards it. We got a good darhshan of Paduka’s of Dnyaneshwar maharaj and Tukaram maharaj.

We then joined the sea of people and were varkari’s. People from all over Maharashtra join this journey. Many a times they come as part of a group called Dindi, which has all the arrangements including a truck to carry there luggage and per need old and tired people. They have the medicines for emergency and also carry food and equipments along with cooks and support staff. The path of Wari is fixed including there stops and breaks.  Everyday they stop at a town or place and the trucks which normally move ahead would go and make the preparations for tents, cooking food etc for the varkaris belonging to there group. Also from whereever the Palki passes the locals arrange many things for the travellers like tea, snacks, water and places to stay or rest etc.

I along with others continued the journey till the start of the Deve ghat. The journey from here to the top as people say is amazing as the Palkis are pulled by bullocks and people and one has to see and be there once. But sadly it was not to be for me this time. I bid all others and headed back. It was such a great spiritual experience being there. Even the thought of continuing and going all the way to Pandharpur also crossed my mind. The enthusism of people, the eglatarism, happiness and hope is what I took back from the Wari.

It was bit diffcult to make my way back and to find Sandy’s place. But somehow I made it. I picked my bike and was on my way back home with being more enlightened and spiritual!

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Trip to Alandi

Oct-2006: This is the trip which started it all. This was our first trip as a group which over the years led to many exciting trips. Not that there were not attempts made earlier, but nothing was coming through and it seems divine intervention was what was required. So, one fine day or rather afternoon as we were taking after lunch walk Ashk initiated the topic to go for some outing. Again, you know how these discussions are, they start with some small place and then within no time every one is throwing around names of some exotic locations and then the plan is non starter even before it had time to form. But that day, he not only talked about the outing but suggested rather asserted we go to Alandi.

Alandi is a holy town close to Pune which is a place of pilgrimage having samadhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar maharaj and is around 20 km from Pune city. This seemed like nice place to start our journey and everyone were on board in no time. We decided to go the coming Saturday and decided to travel by bike. We all were from different parts of Pune and so I, Ashk & Ram were to meet at their place (I was going to travel pillion) and then we were to meet near Bombay Sapers where Sam, Sandy & Rav were going to join us. We were planning to start early and plan was to be back by afternoon.

As this was our first official trip and also it was going to be a short one there was no specific planning done. I just showed up at Ashk place as per plan around 8:00 am and after some time Ram joined in and we started towards the meeting spot. We reached there around 9:00 am which was close to the agreed upon time, but there was no trace of other guys, they started arriving one after the other and Sam was the last one. Finally we were on our way. The road to take is straight from there, i.e. towards Vishartwadi and this goes all the way to Alandi. The road till Vishartwadi or till bit further was ok, but from there on the road was real bad. It becomes single lane, with good amount of traffic for company and as you approach the town the road was no more than gravel. It really tested us!

Somehow we managed to the town and after crossing the famous Indryani river we parked. We were quite hungry and the original plan was to eat something en-route, but as we had started late, we had come non stop here. So there was one nice restaurant just at the entrance point of the temple walkway and we had misal and vada sambar there which was nice along with tea. We then went straight away to take darshan of Sant Dnyaneshwar maharaj. The samadhi & and temple is tranquil and spiritual. This I think was my first visit there and I liked the place. Then we spent some time along the banks of the river, the name of which has been engraved in our minds from  childhood.The town is quite nice and well maintained, though the river could be kept in better shape.

We were not sure on what next and were contemplating, when Ashk informed us that one of his relatives is disciple of Sant and he manages one of the ashrams just outside the town and he is in today. So we headed there to meet him and we had nice discussion with him. It was almost lunch hour and they were serving food for the devotees and he asked us also to have the prasad. So we sat on the floor and had the lunch which was nice and a good experience. It was over 1:30 pm now and we had to head back. The weather was quite hot though. We were back on the adventurous road and our back & spine got a good rundown :(. Earlier in the day on our way to Alandi we had spotted a new Sai baba temple which was still under construction but is quite nice and Ashk wanted to stop there for some time. So we compiled and had darshan. The work was still going on but the marble temple looked quite imposing and nice.

We also had nimbu pani outside the main entry gate and now were heading back home. We entered Pune around 2:30 pm and one after other people started going there own ways. We also headed towards Ashk’s home. I then picked my bike and was back home around 3:30 pm. So this started the journey which took us to visit many forts, treks and general travel and we were also back to Alandi as well few times!

Kolhapur Trip – Day 2

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01-Oct-2017:  Woke up in the morning feeling fresh. One of the things I enjoy being here at Satara is the great views we get from our house of Ajinkyatara fort and Yevteshwar hill. We had our tea and then M also dropped by so we had a nice chat. We then got ready and packed our stuff. We were leaving Satara today and going to Kolhapur. We first headed out to have breakfast at one of our fav eating joint; Supnekar. We had their famous pattice, dahi misal and then tea. Before leaving we also had to drop in at few of our acquaintance places, where we filled our tummies even more :).

We were not really hungry, but decided to have some light food before leaving. So we headed onto the Yevteshwar hill to one of our regular hotel Prakruti ayurvdedic restaurant. Our plan was also to see if we can go to valley of flowers if possible which was not far from this place and would be in full boom this time of the year. But as we reached closer to the tunnel, we saw some chaos and vehicles turning around. We learned that there had been a landslide on the Yevteshwar hill and authorities had closed down the road, which was quite sad ;(. Not good start to the day!

So we decided to go to our good old Ajinkya hotel. We had quick lunch their and then were on en route to Kolhapur. Kolhapur is around 125 kms and 2 hours away. The highway from Satara to Kolhapur narrows down a bit here to 4 lanes but as traffic is light and the roads really nice its pleasant to drive/pass on this section. We did not stop on the way and reached the city around 5:00 pm. After some deliberations we booked a hotel which was bit farther from the city center, but was nice.  We unloaded our stuff there, freshened up and took some rest. We then left to take darshan at Shree Mahalakshmi temple around 6:15 pm.

Kolhapur is city which I really like. It has an old world charm and also has a unique culture and identity. The famous misal, the chappal, dialect, Shree Mahalakshmi temple, rankala lake etc makes you come back to this city again and again. I have so many memories of this wonderful city from my childhood day, when we used to visit this place every other year. In those days we used to have few relatives staying here and we spent some nice time with them, eating at many nice hotels here and calling the day at Rankala lake. In those days Shree Mahalakshmi temple used to have less crowd and you could get darshan immediately.

As these thoughts were running in my head, we reached the temple and we parked in the near by parking lot and entered the complex through the big gate. This complex is really nice and one is awestruck after seeing the architecture of the temple. The temple stands on many big pillars, which have been elaborately sculpted with many motifs and scenes. The temple is very old and you are transported back in time. The crowd was thin that day and so we had a quick and nice darshan. After taking the prasad laddu, we were to go for dinner, but before that we deiced to shop around a bit.

Baba wanted to buy some books at an exhibition center which was just outside the gate from where we had entered and we wanted to buy the famous Kolhapuri chappal and all which was at other end of the temple, just opposite the Vidyapeeth school. There were many small shops around there and I found a nice pair of chappal for Ar. As we were about to leave it started raining. So we decided to remain there under the shade of the shop for it to clear. But then in 5 mins it stared raining cats and dogs and we were really stuck. The distance from where we were was not very far from where Baba was, but we would have got completely drenched if we would have venture outside, such was the heavy pounding. We tried contacting Baba, to check if he can ask the driver to pick him up and then do a the outer loop of the complex and come pick us up. The road in front of us was quite wide and there was enough parking space as well. We waited with anticipation, but time passed by, they were nowhere to be seen. They finally arrived after more than 40 -45 mins, clearing the maze of one way roads and the heavy pounding of water. We quickly got in and headed out.

We were not sure where to go for dinner. Baba had seen this ad of Khavayya Dinning hall somewhere, so we decided to at least check out the place. This place was in a residential section of the city and so when we reached there we were not sure what to make of it, though it looked quite nice from outside. The restaurant has a nice ambiance and the food was also quite good. It has Gujrati/Rajesthani type of thali and the chaas was really nice. It was fairly crowded and we had some nice time there. We would have been one of the last customers to leave, it was quite late and we headed back to our hotel. It was still raining, though it was more of a drizzle now. We were back at the hotel room at around 10:30 pm. I was quite tired, but had to do one more thing, which was to book my tickets back to US. Once done, I had some TV time and went to bed.

 

Baneshwar

27-July-2011: I and G both were on leave this Monday as we had planned to go to Satara and make it a long weekend. But the plans got shelved and instead we decided to make a short trip somewhere closer to Pune. I had read and heard about a place called Baneshwar, which is close to Pune and we decided to go there. It’s mainly a spiritual cum picnic spot. A temple located among fabulous green locales, surrounded by dense forest, a river flowing through it and to add to it a small but beautiful waterfall. A perfect place for half day/one day picnic.

Baneshwar is around 35 kms from Pune on Pune-Satara Superhighway.  This highway which passes through serene Shayadri ranges, rivers, ghats, streams, green farms, yummy food joints etc is one of my favorite places to drive. Nothing like it to go on a long drive on this road in the monsoon or winter time.

Around 8 kms from Khed-Shivapur toll on your left, you will see a sign board for Nasarapur, pointing to right direction, take a right turn here. You then get on a small road, where you will see the sign boards showing directions for Baneshwar, Raigadh  etc. Don’t ask why the board is not before the Nasarapur junction; NHAI likes to make all travels on their roads a true adventure :).

This internal road (if at all you can call it one) is at the best pathetic. It passes right through the Nasarapur town and has all the chaos and is dotted with small shops, taparis and many road side vendors etc which you will find in all most any small town India. In the weekend you are sure to get stuck there for a long time (we were once stuck here real bad while returning from Rajgadh trek). After about 1-1.5 kms, on the right side you will see the Kaman for Baneshwar. Once you enter through it you feel like being transported to some different place. All the filthiness, dirt, dust, pollution, noises are forgotten and you enter the dense forest, endowed with cool breeze, no dust/pollution zone. After driving a bit you come to the parking area.

Straight up is the entry point for the temple. As temple is situated in the dense forest – i.e. Ban (or Jungle) hence it is called as ‘Baneshwar’. The temple is quite old going back around 260 years. It was built by NanaSaheb Peshwa in 1749. He thought the place is perfect for building the temple in the middle of the forest close to the river. The temple is simple but very pretty. The main deity here is Shiva. I always feel divine visiting old temples like this one built with stones. The temple complex is of medium size which also has two tanks near the temple. The tanks have various fish and also houses a tortoise. Just standing besides the tank is quiet cool and comforting.

Once you come out of the temple on your left you will see a trail going uphill. The trail is beautiful, with lots of big trees, some part of natural forest along with many small decorative and flower plants. As you walk along the path, soon enough, a soothing sound starts reaching your ears and you realize there is waterfall nearby. The walk to the waterfall is about 5-7 minutes and is easy. It is small but beautiful. At that spot the river bed shrinks and a small gorge is formed from where the water flows with high speed and drops down a small fall. There is a watch tower on the bank from where you can have a good view of the river, waterfall and surrounding forests and farms. A perfect place to take the pics for memories. There’s a warning which the forest department has issued about getting into the river near the waterfall. It can be dangerous as the currents can be high here.  Be mad about adventure, but don’t do mad adventures!

There are few other places of interest around like rock garden, lotus garden etc where you can just sit and the time passes by you. Unfortunately our time flied faster than that and we had to leave for Pune so didn’t explore them. Something for the next time. Also outside the temple there are couple of small hotels serving some snacks. But we recommend getting something to eat with you and enjoy the lunch/snacks sitting on the wooden benches in the middle of the jungle.

The breathtaking landscape, beautiful old temple with resonating waterfalls, cool breeze energizes you for the reality of the every day city life.  The best time to visit is monsoon and winter season. A good family place for a short picnic. So do visit and experience the magic of this natural wonder.