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...