TEMPLES OF MAHARASHTRA


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Maharashtra is a land of temples. Whether it’s the torrential waterfalls at Bhimashankar or hot water springs at Trimbakeshwar, it’s all in the name of god.
Of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, Maharashtra boasts five: At Aundhya Nagnath, Parali Vaijnath, Bhimashankar, Trimbakeswar and Grishneshwar. God prevails across the state. At Solapur, seas of people join the palkhi procession, some barefoot, others with no possessions. They come, from various routes, all heading to the home of the supreme god of the universe, Pandharpur’s Vithoba. This gigantic temple dates back to the 13th century. Here, the banks of the river are flooded with faith in the incarnation of lord Shiva and Vishnu – they too ensure that caste and class are no barrier.
In Ahmednagar, the black stone god of Shani Shignapur protects his village. No homes have locked doors or windows; there is no reported crime. Apart from the resident god Shaneshwar, goddess Laxmibai, god Dattatraya, Ganesha, Shankar, Vishnu and Vitthoba in his Pundalika temple, all guard this land.
Around Pune, the much-loved remover of obstacles, Ganesh, manifests himself in eight natural stones within 20 to 110 km of each other. Devotees take tours or state government transport buses between Pune and the Ashta Vinayak temples.
In Mumbai, spirituality enshrines commerce. The Mahalakshmi temple is devoted to the goddess of wealth. At the famed Siddhivinayak temple too, the black stone Ganesha with his trunk turning right in the sanctum, is known to be over 200 years old. Tuesdays see thousands of devotees walking in barefoot. From old stalwarts to every new-comer, this gorgeously carved temple, has blessed most celebrities.
In Mumbai, spirituality enshrines commerce. The Mahalakshmi temple is devoted to the goddess of wealth. At the famed Siddhivinayak temple too, the black stone Ganesha with his trunck turning right in the sanctum, is known to be over 200 years old. Tuesdays see thousands of devotees walking in barefoot. From old stalwarts to every new-comer, this gorgeously carved temple, has blessed most celebrities.
Finally, there is Kolhapur – dotted with religiosity. At Mahalakshmi or Amba Bai temple royalty drops in to seek blessings of various deities. Construction apparently started in the seventh century, around this idol weighing 40 kilos. There is much more spirituality to Kolhapur. The Narasobachi Wadi, at the confluence of Krishna and Panchaganga rivers, is revered for Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh’s incarnation’s holy slippers. Ramteerth, graced by the river, a coffee plantation and orchards, houses ancient temples. Mythology states that Rama lived here during vanvaas (exile); today, picnickers frolic around. Seventeen km north-west, at 3,100 feet, Jyotiba is cocooned in the mountains near Kolhapur. Supposedly another incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, Jyotiba sees much festivity during full-moon nights.

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