Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bhuleshwar AKA Daulatmangal Fort

Type: Hill fortsGrade: Easy (You can drive till top)
Base Village: Off Urali Kanchan, beforeYevat
Distance: 45 KMs from Pune
Route: Pune-Solapur Road
Time visited: Feb 2011
Time to see around: 1 hour max
How to visit: From swargate hit Pune-Solapur highway. After the toll road ends at Urali-Kanchan, (2 Kms before Yevat) take right turn along eastern bank of canal. The fort should be around 8 Km. There is small ghat but the road is good condition. This raod further goes down to Saswad. There is right side diversion just as the Ghat ends and a bumpy road with pretty steep with sharp turn’s lead you right till the temple on the top of the fort.

Every time I visit Solapur I promise myself that I need to take out time and visit Bhuleshwar temple on the Daulatmangal fort. This Sunday finally I headed for this amazing place. Started at 6.45/7 we hit the cool breezy road. The Sun was out smiling as the sleepy traffic moved calmly at Magarpatta and Hadapsar.

After the toll ended we stopped at our favourite stop- Kanchan for steamy breakfast. Mouth-watering Hot Idlis and Dosa on fresh green leaf with yummy sambar recharged our energy that we would need for next few hours. We strolled for few minutes in the Nishigand and Marigold farms on the opposite side.

I could easily locate Bhuleshwar behind the hotel. After turning on right the road from Solapur highway it become lonely amid the dry arid landscape. A few leafy green of mostly Banana and Papai farms are only ones that add beauty to the parched yellows and muddy browns. Well just at the ghat starts, the large number of misty Jacoranda tress adds the delightful voilets. Throughout this road, the temple is always visible in front of you.

The striking Buruj towers at both ends draw you attention. There are two connected towers probably now a home to a few people is at the centre. Not sure if these were built recently...

There is good stairway built from half of the fort to the temple but since the road is pretty steep with barely one vehicle could pass safely I could locate a place to park my car. We finally reached the top from the left side. I could locate 2 Buruj on the way. The fort is supposed to be built around the temple in 16th century by Murar Jagdev after he had looted Pune.

Bhuleswar Temple is very old and said to be built in 12th century by Choula Rulers. The temple is centrally located on a huge platform. The closer look of the roof towers highlights the magnificient artistic detailed designs.

The Hemadpanthi temple is amazing built using Black besalt rock. Somehow this temple gave me memories of Halebidu-Bellur temples. The beautiful carving starts right from the door of the temple. A right climb traverse in the dark lead you to a huge opening to the main temple. A beautifully carved Nandi draws you attention. Every inch on the main temple wall and every pillar has extremely fascinating and wonderful intricate carvings with some having mythological references.

The temple bears many signs of invasion and destruction as you can see typical destruction of all the artistic work- where hands and heads are chopped off. It said that Aurangzeb had invaded this fort before invasion of Jejuri.

With a promise to myself that I would visit back this mystic place once again in rains when the scorched yellows would turn into radiant greens, we proceeded to Ramdara.


Base Village: Loni KalbhorDistance: 22 KMs from Pune
Route: Pune-Solapur Road
Time visited: Feb 2011
Time to see around: 0.5 hours max (You can relax and spend 2-3 hours easily)
How to visit: From Swargate hit Pune-Solapur highway. After the toll road starts at Loni, pass the HPCL main gate, on the left you would see MIT Vishwa Gurukul. You will have to cross a Bridge. As the Bridge ends take a right turn into the village. On left hand side as the divider ends is the Dutt Mandir. Take a right turn here and the bumpy road goes all out to Ramdara.

After visiting Bhuleshwar we headed back for Pune. The second agenda was visit to Ramdara. Ramdara is great quick getaway from hustle and bustle of the city.

The road is lonely 4-5 kms drive through tiny hamlets. The entire landscape again was rusty yellows. The road is all ups and down. After climbing a small mountain finally the Green bushy spot became clearly visible. 2-3 foreigners sped by on motor bikes...

At the entrance are dense shady huge trees. You can park car nicely there. A five minutes’ walk will reveal a beautiful temple surrounded by small lake and coconut trees. The green coloured water is full of algae but the calmly floating ducks and gentle breeze adds charm to peaceful tranquil.

The temple has beautiful idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxman. The huge nandi in the temple is beautifully crafted.

Could locate few ducks quacking merrily before they proceeded for swim in the hot weather. You can relax in the shady trees and munch on Bhel or Vadpav, the only food item that is probably sold here apart from Guavas. Best to carry your own food and water bottle.

On the way we bought a bagful of fresh onions from the farmers who were digging them up. Well that made my entire return journey slightly teary in spite of turning on AC...

While returning we caught glipses of beautiful enchanting colored flowers in the roadside nurseries. We were back home for a late lunch at 2/2.30 PM with wonderful memories to cherish.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunrise at Alandi

Type: Walk
Grade: Easy (in case you walk everyday for atleast 2-3 kms)
Distance: 17 KMs from Pune
Cost: 30 Rs!

Sant Dnyaneshwar was a great saint, poet, philosopher and spiritual leader and founder of warkari movement in the 13th century. Alandi is the place famous for Sant Dnyaneshwar's Samadhi. Alandi is situated on the banks of river Indrayani. The Samadhi temple built in 1570 is worth to see. Surrounded by thick greenery with beautiful bacdrop of ghat adds to the solemnity and serenity of the place. Every year Dnyaneshwar's palkhi starts from Alandi to Pandharpur in month of July and thousands of people, young and old, accompany on foot.

Every month first on second sunday a group of people walks from Pune to Alandi. We decided to join this walk of 17 kms. Getting up at 3 AM in morning seemed bit difficult initially but I was very excited. We started at 3.30 AM and reached the starting point- Pratik Nagar Bust Stop before Vishrantwadi. Once you turn left from Bund Garden Bridge and pass Deccan College you have to take right. This also goes to airport if you turn right after pratik nagar.
Well there were around 10 people already gathered. The group is led by one Mr Kanade and 2 others. Mr Kanade informed us he was doing this activity for 17 years! Once a year in Jan they also visit Dehu temple from ALandi - so they walk around 32 Kms... Most of the member had been doing this for 3+ years and few had been doing 9-10 years! Once in a year they also walk all the way from Lonavala to Shivaji nagar!

We started at 4 AM sharp. The traffic was low with few big trucks honking and passing. the Road till vishrantwadi is almost good- 2 lanes on each side with a recently planted trees and the service roads on the side. There are few bad patches but I could the road construction going on. I guess few kms after Dighi it becomes a single road. The calm morning and gentle but mild cold breeze made the walk easier. I could still see 'Saptarshi' above and the twinkling 'Dhruv' star on the right. I was surprised I wasnt even feeling thirsty. I could locate 'Gokhale Mala' on the way, the only known place to me. Could see some new construction activity and few luxurious flat schemes coming up on the road.

Approx 6 Kms before Alandi we stopped for 10 minute darshan at Sai Temple. It’s a probably newly built huge temple complex and the Kakad Aarti was just about to end. It was beautiful temple indeed.

We proceeded to our destination. At 6.30 AM sharp we were on the Ghat. The Ghat was still trying to wake up and the atmosphere was dizzy with the blanketed fog. The tranquil reflections in the silent water were aspiring. The whole place seemed to be blessed with awesome natural beauty. Along the sides you could see the boiling water pots and the early visitors waiting for warm bathing water. Elsewhere some were un-necessarily hurrying up and seemed to be heading for the pooja. The small shopkeepers were equally busy doing there setups probably praying for good business for today. The tea vendors amidst water vapour of boiling tea could be seen giving orders to the cooks.The main temple gateway was all prepared to welcome today’s visitors and pilgrims in dazzling lights.

 A hopeful vasudev was singing some bhajans at the door.

A big peepal treecalled ‘Suvarna Peepal’ stood on the right at the entrance.

The temple complex was beautiful from inside. Seeing the walkthrough barricades I could imagine the crowd during the palkhi. There was a huge banyan tree called ‘Ajeevan Vruksha’

We took darshan and then assembled outside.  The most touching experience was that every member distributed 'prasad' to other members and touched their feet. After a huge glass of milk we headed for the bus stand. I guess a bus runs every 15 minutes from Pune to Alandi and I could see the first bus around 5 AM. We got a bus immediately. As we proceeded I could finally see sun struggling to spread in light amidst the dense fog.

We were back by 8 at Pratik nagar. After waving off good bye to other members we hit the road and at 8.30 I was enjoying the sunday special 'pattis' along with 'Times of India'.

What a day to start with...