In India it is said that if you make a visit to temples your wishes get fulfilled. You can even get your work done. This post is on an unforgettable trip to Ashtavinayak which I had undertaken on a purpose with faith and belief. Mostly I am not a hardcore worshipper but situations can change your thinking temporarily or permanently. I had given my final graduation exams in college and was quite disturbed as my exams didn’t go well. Results always gave me a scare. Two days after the exams got over I suddenly came up with a plan to visit Ashtavinayak. This was going to be my first major temple visit.
We enquired about the tickets at Dadar, Mumbai and now even had the company of our neighbor who were keen to accompany us. We ultimately decided upon a date and the tickets were booked. As both, my neighbors and me being new to Navi Mumbai we had no idea how the travel was going to be. We were informed that we had to arrive at Dadar early morning at 7:30 in the morning to catch the bus. We asked the correspondent if the bus by any chance will pass Navi Mumbai. He denied. We didn’t enquire any further and agreed to be at Dadar at 7:30 am. We got up at 4 am, left our home at 4:45 just to find that the taxi we had booked was nowhere to be found. No information about the driver or taxi. With no mobile phones with us those days there was no chance of calling and asking him either. There was no point even waiting there for him either, as we had called him at 4:30 am and it was almost 5am. We decided to take a chance and go by bus or train. There were no proper bus facilities in Navi Mumbai those days. No autorickshaw at this hour to take us to the railway station. We just started walking. After covering half the distance we found an autorickshaw willing to take us to the station. We got dawn at Wadala Road station and took a taxi to Dadat TT. It was almost 8:15 am. After reaching there we were relieved to find our bus waiting there for us and also for another passenger yet to come.
Soon the bus started moving, but what? The bus was going the opposite direction. Now we realized that it was going to Thane to pick up the passengers. Almost after one hour stop at Thane we moved on. Now we were really sort or angry or whatever to find the bus going from the same place we were in morning. At 12 pm the bus was standing at Navi Mumbai just five minutes from our house. Now just to reach 5 minutes from our house at 12 pm we got up at 4 am and left home at 4:45 am, that was our luck may be. After stopping at Navi Mumbai we moved on, as for us this is where our real Journey should begin. We halted at Panvel inn for breakfast and tea. After breakfast we resumed and after a few hours we reached Pali, our first destination.
Ashtavinayak’s first stop was at Pali nearly 60 km from Panvel. This is known as Ballaleshwar. It is situated below a hill called Sarasgad. Like any other temple this temple faces the east. The temple is made of stone blocks. The structure of statue resembles the hill behind it.
Our next stop was Mahad nearly 6 km from Khopoli railway station and 25 km from Karjat railway station. This is called Varadavinayak. Facing the east the idol has an oil lamp near it burning since more than hundred years.
It was 1 pm. From visiting Mahad we had our lunch in an old village style. We were taken at a place and were asked to sit in a long line. The cooks and their workers set the plates in front of us and one by one started putting the food in the plates. Chapatti, bhaji, dal, wada, rice and pickle were the items in the menu. The simple but delicious meal in a village seemed much more satisfying than a feast in a luxury hotel. We finished our lunch and one by one came near the bus waiting for others to come.
Moreshwar, morgaon, Pune
The temple is made of black stone. There is a Nandi (Shiva’s Bull) statue at the entrance. The Ganpati Murti is seen in the form of riding a peacock.
The temple is situated in Morgaon village around 60 km from Pune. Morgaon in Marathi means “village of peacocks” due to the abundance of peacocks in the village. We had tea and a small snack at the village inn. From there we headed towards Pune as we called it for the day. In the bus we were all memorizing the day’s journey and places. Some were busy in chitchat and jokes. The guide was also cracking jokes whenever he could get a chance. His only aim was that the tourists were properly entertained. But after a full day’s travel what we really need more than entertainment is a little calm and relaxation. But well, the guide did his job.
It was almost 9pm as we reached Pune. Pune being the centre point for all these places our main lodge was at Pune. Dinner was scheduled in a hotel next to our lodge. It was a nice air-conditioned place on a first floor which served Gujarati thali. Of course travelling stress and hectic schedules and the thought of waking up at quarter to three pm the next day had almost killed our appetite, but still everyone started relishing the food as the delicious aroma filled the room and the thali did looked tempting.
As everyone finished their meal the guide started giving an overview of the next day’s schedule. Again the next day was going to be hectic. We reached room lodge room at 11 pm and were soon asleep only to wake up after 3 hours as warned earlier. The guide started banging on everyone’s room door. We immediately got ready and were at the entrance by three thirty pm. The bus arrived and we started moving for our second day’s schedule.
(to be continued…)