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My wanderer mind doesn’t allow me to sit at home on weekends. Saturday was spent in some household things and evening made me ‘outing-sick’. Yes, ‘no-outing’ syndrome can be as serious as any other syndrome… no kidding friends!!! 🙂

Question was ‘where?’- An immediate answer was “VadhuTulapur”. I am always obsessed by bravery of our great second Chatrapati i.e. Sambhaji Maharaj and so these places mean so much as far as history is concerned.

I made a plan to visit Vadhu, Tulapur and Phulgaon. I got up early and started at sharp 7:00. Rising sun added to the beauty of the morning. I took up Nagar highway.

Wagholi was my first hault. We can see a Shri Wagheshwar (or Wyaghreshwar) temple (श्री व्याघ्रेश्वर) surrounded by small lake on left side of highway. Just near the temple, there is black stone moument which is ‘samadhi’ of maratha sardar called ‘Pilajirao Jadhav’. He fought and won against Nizam and worked closely with Bajirao Peshwa-I. Jadhav belonged to Wagholi and his heirs built this samadhi. ‘Jadhavgad’, now turned into ‘Kamath Resort’ near Saswad belonged to these Jadhavs. Then I headed towards Tulapur.

To reach Tulapur:

1. Take Ahmednagar Highway (SH-60) and travel till ‘Lonikand’ village.
2. Travel some more, you will see board written with Sambhaji Maharaj’s pic and take left turn to go to Tulapur village.
3. Tulapur is exactly 6 kms from here. Once you take turn, you can see MSEB power station towers. Travel on tar road to reach Tulapur. You can ask villagers for ‘Sangameshwar’ temple or simply ‘Sangam’.
4. Tulapur Sangam is on right side. There is ample parking space (yes, even for 4-wheelers).

Tulapur SangamTulapur (तुळापूर) was earlier called as ‘Naagargaon’ (नागरगाव). Adilshahi Vajir ‘Murar Jagdev’ was advised by his guru to rebuild the destructed temple of ‘Sangameshwar’ which he did. Later on, Murar Jagdev wished to donate gold as much as weight of elephant. Shahaji Maharaj gave him solution of weighing the elephant in the boat and marking the depth of boat. The boat was then refilled with stone and they were weighed and same amount of gold was donated. With this sheer intelligence of Shahaji Maharaj, Murar Jagdev could literally weigh the gold as much as an elephant. ‘Naagargaon’ was then renamed as ‘Tulapur’ i.e. ‘Weighing town’.

Tulapur itself must have been unaware then, of what it has to see in 3rd generation of Shahaji Maharaj. Young Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj (age 32) was caught in Sangameshwar, Konkan (Ratnagiri). One of his brother-in-laws, Ganoji Shirke deceived the Marathas and helped Aurangzeb’s commander, Mukarrab Khan to attack Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was in the garden, resolving some issues and was about to leave the town. With strong army of 20,000 people, Julfikarkhan moved towards Karad and then Baramati and finally to Bahadurgad near Bhima river.

Ganoji’s hunger for Maratha land in the form of watan led to his enmity with Sambhaji. Sambhaji like his father- Shivaji Maharaj had abolished the custom of giving away watans, as this led to the people’s suffering, from the hands of the watandar and there were chances of the watandars assuming kingship or taking possession of their watans.

Dharmaveer Chatrapati Sambhaji MaharajSambhaji was tortured and executed in most cruelest way to death. He was asked to surrender his kingdom to Aurangzeb and convert to Islam religion. Sambhaji refused to convert and instead sang praises of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). Aurangzeb ordered his men to torture Sambhaji and his friend Kavi Kalash to death. Each cruel punishment was given to kavi Kalash prior to Sambhaji as if it was a rehearsal.

They both were dressed as clowns, with their body tied in heavy iron chains and huge wooden logs on their neck and shoulders. They were tied on camel and given a ride in village. All men and women from Aurangzeb’s troop came to see this captured Maratha warrior. People threw stones and dung at them. Their eyes were burned off with hot iron bars and tongue was plucked. They were beaten up till their wounds bleed and then were given baths of salt-water. Their skin was peeled off with ‘Wagh nakhe‘. Their legs and hands were cut off and lastly the head. Sambhaji’s body was cut into pieces and was thrown away for crows, vultures and dogs to eat. On 11 March 1689, Sambhaji was finally killed at Sangameshwar at Tulapur, near Pune. He sacrificed his life at age of 32 for ‘Dharma‘ i.e. Religion which is why he is called ‘Dharmaveer Sambhaji’.

It was the worst death anyone could get. It is truly said there was/is no king as great as Sambhaji Maharaj. No matter whether few historian portait him as spoiled brat or non-managed king or characterless or whatever, there is no actual historical proofs or evidences for their statements.

I read “Chhavaa” when i was very young and it moved me. ‘Sambhaji’, son of great Shivaji Maharaj, lost his mother at age of  2, brought up my his grand mother and the lady who made Shivaji i.e. Jijabai, at age of 10 he had mastery in 8 different languages including Sanskrit and Urdu, a soft-hearted prince, a sankrit poet, a passionate writer, a great warrior, most eligible Yuvraj, a heir who suffered from politics at home due to his step-mother Soyrabai, estranged son of Shivaji due to mis-communication and misunderstandings, our second chatrapati, one who fought with Aurangzeb and defended maratha kingdom for 12 years  after Shivaji’s death without losing a single battle and the list can be endless. His multi-facet persona fascinates me like anything. I become very emotional and my eyes turn watery everytime I think of Sambhaji. Soyrabai’s own brother Hambirrao Mohite stood by Sambhaji Maharaj as he knew his sister was wrong and Sambhaji was well-deserved would-be king on Maratha throne.

Shri Ballaleshwar TempleI parked my vehicle outside the small garden at Sangameshwar Temple (संगमेश्वर). There is Sambhaji’s Statue and smarak just outside the Sangameshwar temple. I visited temple and smarak; bowed in front of Lord Shiva(temple) and at Sambhaji’s statue (who I think was indeed a personified form of lord Shiva).

I went to Sangam ghat where 3 rivers Bhima, Bhama and Indrayani unite. There are beautiful Shri Ballaleshwar (श्री बल्लाळेश्वर) and old Ganapati temples just near the ghat. I clicked some snaps. After spending enough time, I continued my journey to Vadhu.

Phulgaon (फुलगाव):

Phulgaon GhatI had planned a new place in the midway i.e. Phulgaon. Phulgaon is on the road back from Tulapur to Nagar Highway. There is ‘Shrutisagar Ashram’ in Phulgaon which I visited last time. This time, I wished to see something different i.e. ‘Phulgaon ghat’. River Bhima takes a semi-circular curve at Phulgaon and a stone built wall at ghat is worth a dekko. Water was serene and it was peaceful. I climbed up the wall and sat for some time watching Pied Kingfishers, White-throated Kingfisher and Swallows. There was Peshwas palace here but now there are only ruins left.

I started for Vadhu from Phulgaon. There is road from Tulapur from Vadhu which is in not good condition. Better is to come back to highway and go to Vadhu via Bhima-Koregaon village.

To reach Vadhu:

1. Take Nagar Highway.
2. Travel to village ‘Lonikand’.
3. Cross the Toll plaza and immediate village is ‘Bhima-Koregaon’. Toll is Rs.31/- for single journey and Rs.57/- for return.
4. Take left turn which goes to Vadhu.

Sambhaji Maharaj's SamadhiVadhu (वढू) is the place where actual last rites (funeral) of Sambhaji Maharaj was carried out.  Few brave maratha sardars from ‘Patil’ family collected the body pieces of Sambhaji and sewed them together and performed final rites at this place. They were given name ‘Shivale Patil’ for an act of this bravery. ‘Shivale’ literally means ‘Sewing’ in Marathi (मराठी: शिवले) .

After few years, Sambhaji’s son Chatrapati Shahu along with his mother Yesubai came to Vadhu and gave donation to conserve this place. The statue reflecting Sambhaji’s personality is simply superb. There are Sambhaji’s and Kavi Kalash’s samadhis. I paid my tribute and started my returned journey.

War monument at Bhima-KoregaonOn the way back, a war monument at Bhima-Koregaon toll plaza caught my attention. I parked my vehicle and went inside. This ‘Ran-sthambh’ or war monument is erected in 1822, in the memory of soldiers who lost their lives in last British-Maratha war. Most of the soldiers where Hindu who fought from the side of British army. The soldiers’ names are carved in marble at bottom of this stone. Every 1st January ‘Mahar Regiment’ pays tribute to this war monument.

I started my return journey and reached home in the afternoon. I had been to Vadhu-Tulapur some 4 odd years ago and still can go there for n-times. Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj definitely deserves our respect in a form of such tribute visits!!!

For more snaps, visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157622293200575/

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18Shivaji Maharaj always fascinated me since my childhood. In fact, I liked the history because of him. I was in 3rd grade and my history teacher went an extra mile and told the class abt Sambhaji maharaj’s bravery and his heroic death and since that very moment I am completely in love with this Yuvraj…of course! Shivaji has his own share of my respect but Sambhaji still remains very close to the heart. Bottom line is – I still can’t get over my fascination for these great Marathas. 🙂

Raja Shivchatrapati‘ series which comes on ‘Star Pravah‘ channel added to the desire and I just wanted to visit fort Raigad. We were discussing about a place for team outing and suddenly we all were like “Raigad! Raigad!”. Finally everything was organised (yes, I and my another colleague were organizers!) and we started for Raigad on saturday early morning. Most of my colleagues had never been to Mulashi-Tamhini before and so all the excitement started from Pune itself.

To reach Raigad:

  1. Start from Chandani Chowk(Pune) and take Paud road.
  2. Cross Pirnagut, Mulashi, Tamhini ghat, Nizampur to reach‘Mangaon’.
  3. Take NH-17 and head towards ‘Mahaad’.
  4. On left hand, you will see road which goes to Raigad fort. There are huge letters ‘Raigad Ropeway’ on the hill by road side.
  5. Travel 25 kms more to reach village ‘Pachaad’ which is at the base of the fort.
  6. Total distance is approx 150 Kms.

Mulashi and Tamhini always gave me the intense feeling of nature’s treasure. Lush green, heavy rains, mist over mountains, eye-catchy view Mulashi backwaters, rain-washed road, lots of waterfalls and birds. I have so many good memories of the place. This time we took 1-2 halts in the midway but rains played the spoiled sport as far as photography was concerned. I didn’t wish to make my camera wet.

Raigad RopewayOur journery was great fun with lots of latest songs, chit-chat and stuff. We reached village ‘Pachaad’ at base of  Raigad at 12. There is palace of Shivaji’s mother Jijabai here. We proceeded to ropeway base centre. We took the tickets and boarded in the cable car. It was a thrilling experience. Raigad ropeway is supposed to be steepest ropeway in Asia. As the cable car proceeded we were literally in the clouds. We were bit scared for a moment but soon the happiness took over and we started enjoying the view. Within few minutes, we were atop of the fort. Ropeway brings you to the backside of the fort. We booked the guide and then had lunch in MTDC hotel which was not so satisfying.

We entered Raigad fort through the ‘Mena Darwaja’. “Mena” means palkhi or palki (i.e. sedan chairs or palanquin). It was entrance to the queens and royal ladies’ palanquins. This leads to the Queens chambers, each Queen had separate chamber. The main palace was made up of wood and in front there were 3 hexagonal minars which were watch towers.

Minars RuinsRuins of these minars stand in front of the palace grounds overlooking an artificial lake called Ganga Sagar Lake. On other side of queens’ chambers is the residences of ‘Astha-pradhan’ means eight ministers of Shivaji. The midway leads to Shivaji Maharaj’s own palace and huge Maratha raj-darbar i.e. King’s court facing the Nagarkhana Darwaja. The newly installed Maharaj’s statue on the throne ‘Meghdambari’ is worth seeing. The unique thing about design of this court was anything spoken from any corner of the court is clearly heard at throne.

Outside the court, there is open ground called ‘Holi cha maal’ which was place for Holi festival. Adjacent to this, there are ruins of huge market place. It was designed such that one can shop even while riding or sitting astride a horse.

Another and famous statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj is erected in front of the ruins of the main market avenue that eventually leads to the Jagdishwar Mandir. Jagdishwar temple is serene and has Shivaji Maharaj’s Samadhi and also tomb of his dog called ‘Waghya’.

The main entrance to the fort is the imposing Maha Darwaja. The convoy of the king and the king himself used the Palkhi Darwaja. To the right of Palkhi Darwaja, is a row of three dark and deep chambers. Historians believe that these were the granaries for the fort.

We then headed for the execution point called Takmak Tok(point). It is a cliff from which the culprits and sentenced prisoners were thrown to their death. The area is now fenced off. This place is extremely airy and gives scary view from top. In addition to this, there are many lakes like ‘Kushavart’, ‘Kolimb’, ‘Gangasagar’, ‘Hatti Taake’, etc which were built on the fort for water supply and Bhavani temple, Khalbat-khana, Hirkani Buruj, Shirkai devi temple, residences for foreigner guests in Shivaji’s era.

Shivaji Maharaj spent most of his life on this fort i.e. about 25 years. This fort being powerful was converted into capital of Maratha kingdom. Fort evidence most of the major incidents in Maratha dynasty like coronation of Shivaji and his death. Forts like Torna, Rajgad, Kavlya and Lingana can be seen towards the East of Raigad. Towards the South are Vasota, Pratapgad and Makarandgad.

After Shivaji’s death, Raigad did see the worst of the history. Raigad, earlier known as Rairi, is obscure. In the 12th century Rairi was a seat of the Shirke-Palegar family. After changing several hands, it was captured by Shivaji from Chandrarao More in 1656 AD. Shivaji chose Rairi for his capital and renamed it as Raigad. The gigantic construction work was entrusted to Abaji Sondeve and Hiroji Indulkar. In its glory days Raigad had more than 300 houses, and structures. After Shivaji, the fort remained in the hands of Sambhaji till 1689 AD. After Sambhaji Maharaj, Zulfikarkhan a warrior of Aurangzeb won this fort by bribing the chief of the guards. He captured wife and son of Sambhaji maharaj. After Aurangzeb the fort was handed to Siddis of Janjira. They kept it with them till 26 years after the death of Aurangzeb. Bajirao Peshwe won it for Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj i.e. Marathas in 1735 AD. From Peshwas, Raigad was surrendered to the British in 1818 AD and they gave it in the captivity of forest department.

I was so excited by the fact that I was on same land where my favourite icons Shivaji and Sambhaji lived. My mind went back to Shivaji’s period and imagined him in every place I visited – his throne, his raj-darbar, queens’ chambers, Jagdishwar temple. I bowed at his throne and Samadhi. Each stone from the ruins was defending the history and for me it was no less than idol of any god.  Pity! Our government is not much alert about good maintenance of such gifted treasure. 😦

It was raining like cats and dogs. I clicked as much as snaps I can while protecting my camera from rains at same time.

We decided to descend the fort in the afternoon and thought to take the stairs seemed impossible due to heavy rains and fog. We booked the tickets for ropeway and boarded in the cable car. We did miss the main darwajas (fort entrances) because of this but there is always a ‘next time’. 😀

I paid tribute to this great maratha and this great fort in my mind and bade a good-bye. Raigad was indeed an unforgettable experience!

For map of Raigad, click – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/3899680852/in/set-72157622299929624/

For more snaps, visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157622299929624/detail/

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Deshpande Kaka (who is more of Kaka (Uncle) to me than my C.A) insisted that we must go to Bhuleshwar & Kanfinath. I searched for route to Bhuleshwar on the net and started early morning.

To reach Bhuleshwar –

  1. Take Pune – Solapur Highway and drive approx. 30-35 Kms.

    Bhuleshwar temple view

  2. 2 Kms. before Yavat village, take right turn along eastern bank of canal.
  3. You will see sign board “Bhuleshwar”.
  4. Drive approx. 8-10 Kms to reach Bhuleshwar Temple. As you begin, you will start getting view of Bhuleshwar temple located top on mountain. The road is in OK condition.
  5. Caution: On this way, there is a ghat stretch on around 3-4 Kms. and the road is steep so make sure that vehicle brake is in good condition. There is a very steep turn while climbing as you approach near the temple.

We started on Solapur Highway and took right turn 2 Kms before village ‘Yavat’ and the fun began… We got a warm welcome from Parakeet family. These Parakeets had bluish tails. Then came Green bee-eaters, Drongos, Brahminy Mynas and Red-wattled lapwings.

Each time we saw new bird, we waited there and clicked it. There was a villager who was following us on his bike. He was surprised on what we were clicking. We didn’t notice that he was following us. After a while, we gathered the daring and asked us “Whether we would be interested to see Gerbera plantation?” and we immediately nodded our heads in assertion.

Pink Gerberas

He took us to a nearby place. He had quick talk with the owner and we got permission inside the green house, which sheltered 4 hectares of Gerbera plantation. It was just unbelievable! There was endless panorama of colorful Gerbera flowers. It reminded us of tulips in “Dekha ek khwaab….” from Silsila movie. We captured these beautiful floras through our lenses. He also gave us info that 1 hectare of Gerbera worth at least one lakh rupees. It meant such cultivations are costly affairs. All these flowers are sold in Pune flower market for 1-2 rupees each. We were very thankful to that biker who showed us this elegant treasure.

All these birds and Gerberas already made our day! Actual destination was additional bonus. 🙂

Bhuleshwar Temple

We climbed ghats to reach Bhuleshwar Temple on the mountaintop. The temple hilltop is huge and there is lot of parking space available for vehicles too. Bhuleshwar temple is built in 13th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was previously a fort called “Mangalgadh”. The devastated evidences show that this temple must have been ruined by Muslim invaders and reconstructed again. The entrance of temple is very interesting. It is called “Gaimukhi construction” which dates back to Shivaji Maharaj’s era. The walls of temple are decked with beautiful carvings right from entrance.

There is mythological story that after Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati had fight and angry Shiva came here to meditate. Devi Parvati, dressed as “Bhilla” woman danced to fascinate Shiva. Her beauty seduced him. They went to Kailas from here and got re-united. The place got its name from this story. “To sedate” means “bhul” in Marathi. As Shiva was seduced by Paravati, hence he is also called “Bhuleshwar”.

Inside Bhuleshwar...

We bought Pooja thali (contained coconut, flowers, few issence thicks and a bowl with 5 pedhas) and went inside. It is believed that the god himself eats the Prasad which devotee offers him. We did not know about this. Pujari told us about this. He kept the bowl of pedhas inside the shiv-linga and asked us to wait. After 10 mins, he took the bowl out. To our astonishment, it had only 2 pedhas in it. We tried to find out where did the rest pedhas disappeared, with the help of torch inside the shiv-linga. There were 3 stones whom they call “Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh” and no rat, no snake, no cockroach inside. It was no black magic and nor did Pujari play any trick. Sometimes, there are things beyond your logic and science and you ought to believe them. We had that Prasad and explored the temple.

There was huge Nandi inside the temple along with Ganapati idol in woman form. It is believed to be only such idol of Ganesh. Also there is huge spectacular bell outside the temple. We climbed upstairs and the view was beautiful. We found many Babblers, Mynahs, Ravens and Laughing Doves.

We spent some time there and had few quick bites which we carried with us. We started our back journey and decided to take opposite route while returning. This is Bhuleshwar-Saswad road. We reached Saswad and had some food there. Our next destination was Kanifnath temple. We took up road to Kanifnath which went through small villages. It was lush all over and could get some uncommon birds like Indian Silver Bills, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Bushchat. Sweet melodious song of American Robin thrush caught our attention. It compelled us to wait there for while and admire these nature’s best creations. We were able to capture some picturesque landmarks in our camera.

To Reach Kanifnath:

  1. Take road Pune – Hadapsar – Saswad.
  2. In village Saswad, there is junction. From here, take road to Kanifnath.
  3. Drive approx for 10-15 Kms to reach Kanifnath.

Kanifnath Temple

We climbed up Kanifnath and cool flowing breeze soothed our senses. Just cannot find words to explain how divine the atmosphere at the top was. We parked our car and reached Kanifnath temple. This beautiful architectural splendor is one of the Navnath temples. There is small cave opening inside the temple and women are not allowed to enter in that cave. Only men are eligible. Women can however sit in temple. We took up Prasad and started descending. We had to drive back to Saswad. We took up Saswad – Hadapsar – Pune road to reach Pune.

We came back home in the evening and tried to recollect the day we spent. All the wonderful memories of the day flashed in our minds – beautiful Indian Silver Bills, Uncommon Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, amazing Gerberas, sweet melody of American Robin thrush, unbelievable carvings at Bhuleshwar, accepted Prasad by God which we offered, green landscapes on way to Kanifnath and cold breeze on Kanifnath top!!!

Note: For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/sets/72157603325875234/detail/
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