Our first destination the second day was Chintamani at Theur near Pune. It was situated on a hill and steps were made for the visitors to climb up to the temple. While climbing the steps everywhere there was turmeric powder spread all over in large quantity. There is a system of offering turmeric at the temple above. For the old and unprivileged there was an arrangement of Palki (manned cart). The view from temple at the top was really beautiful. Pune city could be seen at the horizon. The temple was beautiful and morning cool atmosphere added to its beauty in the summer time. There was an old Palki placed there mostly dated back to the times of peshwas.
We descended down from there and had a small breakfast of wadapav and misalpav. After tea we resumed our journey for other destinations. The further two destinations today were far from each other and it was going to take hours reaching each destination one after the other. Thus the guided started hurrying us up so we don’t run out of time. After enjoying with our fellow travelers in the bus and having a good time we reached Siddhatek at around 1 pm.
Siddhivinayak Temple, Siddhatek
The temple is situated on a small hill. It took us almost 15 minutes walk from the road to reach the temple as the vehicles could go more nearer due to rocky mountainous surrounding. It is situated near the Pune Solhapur highway. This place is around 20 km from Daund railway station. We had a simple but delicious meal arranged at Siddhatek. It was served on banana leaves and the serving people were one by one putting food items in the in the leaves arranged all in a line in a long passage. We enjoyed this unique meal and moved on to the next destination. Again after having a good time in the bus we didn’t know that it was almost evening. In the evening around 6pm we reached Ranjangaon.
This temple is famous for Shiva destroying Tripurasura after worshiping ganesh. The temple is said to have been built by Shiva. This village is almost 50 km from Pune. The murti is in the form of sitting on a lotus.
We visited the temple and arati was performed. We were offered a packet of pedas as Prasad. But as we came out the temple some dogs and local kids started demanding the pedas as they are usually offered by the visitors. Well we did the same and gave them our packets while keeping two for us.
We gathered near the bus waiting for others to arrive at the bus. We had our evening tea at the tea stall and had a small snack of wadapav. Our returning journey to the Pune lodge began. Night time we reached our lodge in Pune. Had the same feast like meal we had the previous day. The guide again announced the schedule for the next day. Same like the previous day we had to get up at quarter to three in the night. By quarter to four we were all gathered at the lodge entrance waiting for the bus. Just like the previous day I could not get sleep immediately. When I fell asleep I don’t know but soon there was the same banging on the door. “Wake up, Get ready”. It was quarter to three in the night. By quarter to four we all gathered at the lodge entrance waiting for the bus.
The bus arrived and we started our third day’s journey. Our first destination now was Bhimashankar. Although it is not a part of the Ashtavinayak but it was like a bonus destination. Through the thick forests and curved mountain roads we reached Bhimashankar almost after three hours. It was seven in the morning. Bhimashankar was unusually calm. Being among one of the frequently visited place by the tourists we were the only people who were there at that time. We visited the Jyotirling, which was one of the twelve in India. It was a beautiful structure almost around two thousand years old or more. The structure was completely made of black stone and finely carved and smoothly shaped.
Vigneshwara Temple, Ozar
This temple is located at Ozar near to the Pune Nashik Highway. It is inside a stone wall on all its sides. The river Kukadi flow from its side.
At last in the afternoon at around 3 pm we reached our final destination of our trip which was Lenyadri. Lenyadri situated midway on a mountain is reachable by the steps which takes you directly to the GiriJatmaj temple, carved inside the mountain. But it was also the hardest part of the trip. The steps were too high and the afternoon sun was draining all our energy. The steps seemed like never ending got tougher as we were nearing the top level. The view was breathtaking. The Deccan plain which I had heard only in books was in front of me in real today. May be that was my first mountain climb which I did in my lifetime. For trekkers it will be a child’s play but for me it was like an achievement. The hot plains of Maharashtra went as far as my eyes could reach. There was no mountain or even a small hill in sight I could spot, other than the one we were on. It seemed like this was the only mountain. But in real sense we were at the edge of the Western Ghats. From this point the Deccan planes started. Thus we could only see the planes and not the Ghats which were actually located behind us and in our line at the side.
Descending was just as tough as climbing. But while climbing our face was faced towards mountain and we don’t see behind us. While climbing down we had to face the ground below from the altitude that made many of us uneasy. The guide told us to take our won time while climbing down. It was our last destination of our trip so we need not had to hurry. Those who could reach below early started visiting the shops that sold articles related to the Ashtavinayak. Some were busy in photography why some relaxed on the stone benches.
By four thirty we all reached at the bus and we started our return journey. The return journey was going to be long. In the bus we had a merry time singing dancing mimicry acting and playing. Everyone compulsorily had to do something either song or dance or anything. Many were just too tired to do anything and dozed off. But after hearing others having fun even they joined. Ultimately we were nearing Mumbai when the guide gave is a small shock, meant only for me though. Instead of going though Navi Mumbai as we were prepared for that, the bus was to be going through Thane which was completely in the opposite direction and to be stopped at Chembur. We were disappointed but thought that as we had faced so much trouble since we began our journey let us face it till the end. With heavy bags we somehow got down at Chembur and reached the station. It was evening 7:30pm, peak time for Mumbai train travelers. We tried to catch the least crowded train and changed the trains thrice to reach our Navi Mumbai spot. From station we took an autorickshaw and finally reaching home.