Satara! A beautiful city located near the confluence of the river Krishna and its tributary, the Venna. This outing was very special for me as I was travelling to a new place after a period of two months prior to an ankle ligament injury. It was a tough time when I couldn’t walk. But the “Bhataku” in me has inspired me always. It was a planned(finally!) trip where I was going to stay at Amol’s (my devotee friend) home. I was having 3 days to explore this immensely beautiful city.
Satara has blessed Nature’s bounty. Hill stations, old architecture, giant forts, plunge waterfalls, a long strap of windmills, beautiful temples and what not?? It’s truly a god’s place! I have heard about Sangam mahuli being famous as film locations by many filmmakers. We don’t come across many villages, towns with such an abundance of temples such as this one. All the local royal families have constructed temples in these towns and are also used for performing the obsequies of the dead. What is so special about this place?
This place has an immense spiritual importance as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited and purified this place. A blind devotee, Bilvamangala Thakur, famous as Lila Sukha lived here. He had such deep devotion to Krishna. He was seeing, not with his physical eyes, but through the love of his soul. He wrote “Krishna Karnamrita”. Sri Chaitanya, the avatar of Sri Krishna in this age of Kali, went to Satara and discovered this book; and he proclaimed, as did so many acharyas of the Vaishnav Sampradayas, that this was one of the most important, deepest, most illuminating books ever written in the history of humanity.
|Distance from Pune||108 KM (via Pune-Bangalore highway)|
|Distance from Satara||6 KM (from bus station)|
|Vehicle||Bike, Auto rickshaw, 4 wheeler|
|Journey Time||15 minutes|
I entered the village through an archway having the words “Tirtha Kshetra Dakshin Kashi Sangam Mahuli Praveshdwaar “, embellished on it. A majestic statuette of Lord Shiva in an aedicule, built at top of arch signified that he is the divine guardian of this village. While going to the main temple, a monument dedicated to a dog particularly caught my attention. It was the Samadhi of Khandya, the pet dog of Ch.Shahu who had laid down his life saving his master during a hunting expedition.
Here I enter in the heart of the village where I saw those mighty twins- Rameshwar and Vishweshwar. This place is also called as “Dakshin Kashi”. The two villages- Sangam Mahuli and Kshetra Mahuli are situated at the confluence of Krishna and Venna Rivers. These villages earlier were part of Aundh Princely State. Kshetra Mahuli was the birthplace of Ramshastri Prabhune, the famous spiritual and political adviser of the fourth Peshva Madhavrav.
Kashi Vishweshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was built-in 1735 CE by Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi. Vishweshwar Temple was built in Hemadpanthi style of architecture on the banks of river Krishna. The temple has a sabhamandap, an antarala, and garbhagriha. The temple plan measures 50 feet in length and 20 feet in breadth built with basalt stone.
Normally, temples have hexagonal or octagonal compound, but this one has a heptagonal compound. This is quite uncommon. Six sides are similar, but the seventh side is different. On the seventh side, there are 2 stairs to enter the temple area. The stone ceiling is supported by alternate round, octagonal and square columns of short length affixed on short walls resting on a raised plinth. The temple walls (mandovara) are segmented horizontally and are vertically corrugated. The pillars of the temple are also layered as per the traditional temple designs. The temple pillars also have figures of yakshas carved on their top faces.
Deepmaal is tall structure carved out of one stone with provision for placing oil lamps from top to bottom. In this case, “Deepmaal” is about 55-60 feet tall. Oil Lamps are placed on this at the time of Important occasions like “Shivaratri, Ekadashi”, an auspicious day for Hindu’s.
All Shiva temples have a small temple of Nandi, a bull on which Lord Shiva is said to travel. “Nandi” faces always Lord Shiva. Nandi temple here is quite big compared to many other similar temples of Lord Shiva. The Nandi mandapa with this exquisitely carved dome. All the domes have figurines of deities molded in stucco over a basic brickwork.
One can enter the Sabhamandap from 3 sides. At the junction of these three entrances there a big Tortoise carved in stone, facing the Gabhara, on the floor. The ceiling consists of a central dome with a bulbous ribbed head surrounded by relatively smaller spires.
As we entered “Sabhamandap”, got a very soothing and calm feeling. Stone pillars are quite near each other, which gives a feeling that it is very small now but in reality, it is quite big. While entering the Gabhara, we came across a Huge Bell. The bell is very beautiful and robust with impressions in the Portuguese language.
The walls flanking the passageway to the garbhagriha have niches with idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati (in a shakti form) placed within.
From there, we enter the main temple core “Gabhara”. It is very dark and cold there. the is presiding deity Lord Shiva appeared as a lingam in the sanctum sanctorum. The sculptures inside are very beautiful and very neatly carved. It gives immense calmness inside the temple; may it be The Gabhara or the Sabhamandap.
After offering our obeisance to the divine form, we ventured in the temple courtyard. The temple boundary has an arcade passageway. We could see various rituals being performed in the confines of this passageway which is used for stay during festivals. The end of the passageway has this rather tall hollow structure. We were told that in the olden times there used to be this huge nagada here which provided a signal for the local villagers of events like arati or even the rising levels of the rivers that flowed alongside.
Stepping outside, we could saw some stone carvings dedicated to Nagraj and Nagdevta.
The Kashi Vishweshwara temple also witnesses the crossing of rivers Krishna and Venna flowing perpendicular to each other. From the elevated platform of the temple one also gets a grand view of the Rameshwar temple lying across the river Krishna and the Sangameshwar temple (along with Gosavi samadhis) across river Venna.
The sight was immensely beautiful as I walked out from the main premises. The ladies were busy in washing clothes, children were playing in the swift flow of Krishna mai (mother) and buffaloes swimming around. The soothing flow of Krishna river made the entire atmosphere visually rich!
As I strolled around, I came across this small platform having two Shiva lingas placed side by side. I was told that it was the original samadhi sthal of Ch.Shahu Maharaj and his widow Rajmata Sakwarbaisaheb who went Sati at this very spot. This part of the river is not maintained at all. Lots and lots of litter are seen just outside the Temple complex. locals must take initiative to keep such premises clean and neat to keep the sanctity of the place. It is said here that the presence of Lord Shiva is near the cremation area. A Hindu crematorium is built by nearby where post-death (Kriya-Karma) are done.
Due to the paucity of time, we decided to skip the visits to these temples (there are in all 10-12 temples at Mahuli), as we hoped to cover the Rameshwar temple which was at a priority in our itinerary.
Our next stop was the Rameshwar temple. To enter here we had to retrace our path and once again reach the archway from where we had entered initially. On the immediate left is a road taking one over the Wellington bridge. The bridge is built by the British some 80 plus years ago and is still in excellent condition. After crossing the bridge one has to turn left and pass through a small alley, then a narrow rough road through the fields before we reach the Rameshwar temple.
The temple lies on the other side of Krishna River at Kshetra Mahuli. This is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and is quite small compared to the Vishweshwar Temple. The first thing we see is a stone structure constructed at the rear side of the temple. The temple has a nagara style shikhara made in brickwork, lime, and gypsum. The temple architecture for the Rameshwar temple is entirely different.
There is a Nandi mandap with a very ornately decorated Nandi idol. Statue of Nandi here is a very beautiful example of craftsmanship. All the details like eyes, ears even the nails of the toes are done with absolute precision. There are smaller figurines of two women flanking the Shivalinga under the shade of a hooded serpent.
Normally, in all Shiva temples, Nandi is always facing Shiva. Here the Nandi is not looking at Shiva but a bit towards the right side. There is a story which was told to me by the locals there, a very interesting one. The story goes like this, the horns of the Nandi were of pure gold. One day some thieves cut these horns and ran away. Since no one was around when the theft was done, the Nandi changed his head position pointing towards the direction the thieves ran/fled. Eventually, the thieves got caught taking a cue from the head position of Nandi. Isn’t it really funny?
The Sabhamandap is quite small. It is carved out of a monolith which gives more robustness to the structure. In this temple there are two “Deepmals”, One of these is in a broken condition. Here the main Shivlingam is beautiful and is surrounded by water. The sabhamandap houses the idols of Lord Ganesha and Parvati.
In the premises are minor temples dedicated to Lord Kartikeya (or is it the four-headed Shiva or Brahma??), Garuda and other deities.
For going to the river from the main Rameshwar Temple, one has to climb down about 55-60 steps to reach water. These are very nicely carved out of stone. While speaking to locals, it was found that in heavy monsoon the water rises, substantially, and sometimes it covers about 30 odd steps, meaning in heavy monsoon, the water in the river rises by about 40-45 feet than normal level.
Since this temple is located at a height, it gives a very panoramic view of the Vishweshwar Temple which is there on another side of the river. If such places are maintained properly, these could attract lots of tourists. If a small amount is taken from them for maintaining and showing them with proper guides to tell them the stories behind these the temples can survive.
This place was on top of my list and lost my heart here. The divine atmosphere will turn an atheist into theist (truly). The soothing flow of Krishna mai, innocent villagers, Hemadpanthi architecture, big deepmalas, simple yet elegant deities, chanting of divine hymns around, beautiful shivlingam and intricately carved nandis make this place spiritual and magical in every way!
If you ever visit Satara, do not forget to visit this ethereal marvel.