Monday, August 6, 2012

Ancient Tungareshwar Shiva Temple in Vasai, Mumbai during Shravan

‘Chadai ka asli aanand to chal ke jaane me hi hai… lekin rickshaw bhi jaata hai (The real joy of the climb is to walk all the distance... but rickshaws can also take you there)’, says our rickshaw driver as he drives us through the busy traffic of Mumbai from the Vasai station to the base of the Tungareshwar hills (Sadanand Ashram), the start point for our journey. From here, a 3 km climb uphill would take us to our destination - A 100 yr old temple which can either be covered by private vehicle, rickshaws or on foot.

Bappa SitaRam Ashram, Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Sadanand Ashram

Dating a complete decade back in time, the Tungareshwar temple quietly sits atop one of the highest mountain plateau in the Vasai region of Mumbai – the Tungareshwar hills - at an altitude of 2177 ft. in a small patch of peace and quiet.

We heed to our rickshaw wallah’s advice, let out a call of ‘Bum Bum Bhole’ and start our Tungareshwar yatra... on foot.


Rice fields,Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Rice field plantations by the villagers of the area, at the base of the hills

The moment we step on the muddy tracks of the hills leading to our destination, all the busy noise and honking of the traffic outside is lost. The place is tranquil and silent; it’s a world isolated; a world unto itself. There is not a single soul in picture. It comes as a surprise (and delight!) as the temple especially boasts of a good crowd during the sacred Shiva month of Shravan (July - August) and the festival of Shivratri (Feb-March). Early morning of a weekend perhaps, we reason out.

One of the streams at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Goat - Our lone companion in the initial stages of the climb

The irregular tracks are canopied by huge trees and lined with dense vegetation on either side.

Climb to the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Climb to the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Walking under the umbrella of nature

Overhead is the window... our only window to the outside world - An overcast grey sky seen through the tiny gaps in the canopied panes that nature has left open for us.

Grey skies at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Overcast weather

A few minutes into the climb, and we realize that quietude is an unofficial rule followed here, by everyone. So, the leaves don’t rustle and the birds, barring a few occasional chirps, mostly keep to themselves.

Beautiful landscape to the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Hear the silence speak!

Even the two shallow streams and two miniature waterfalls that we come across are mellowed in nature. I later learn that one of them is the famous Tungareshwar waterfall which is also a very famous picnic spot. The waters in mixed shades of green, brown and white makes its way down quietly yet animatedly as if taking pride of having the eternal bliss to continually flow by the feet of the Lord.

A stream at Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The Tungareshwar waterfalls at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Top:One of the streams; Below:Tungareshwar Waterfall
... I stand mesmerized ...

Somewhere mid way, we finally sense activity – A lone shop selling tea and snacks, a rick trudging down the mountain, a motorcycle bumpily moving up and a few devotees treading on foot, in groups of two or four.

A rickshaw trudges along at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
A rickshaw trudges along

Forested area taking us to the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Devotees walking towards the temple

Some of them are heading in the opposite direction, red marks of vermillion on their foreheads – they have had the blessings of the Baba.

Devotees climbing down - Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Heading back... Content and Happy

After 45 minutes of climbing, we finally reach the hillock where a signage indicates that Yes! This is the place – the abode of the Bholenath – The Tungareshwar Temple. At this point, as if on divine cue, the till now silent clouds burst into peals of laughter and huge drops of rain come pouring down. Getting soaked at the grounds of Lord Shiva during Shravan, moments before meeting Him – We feel blessed to get a sanctified welcome.


The Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The Tungareshwar Temple

The temple sits coyly nestled in the beautifully landscaped garden of nature giving it an ethereal look.  At the dome, a trishul (trident) stands impressively against the skyline.

The trident impressively standing against the skyline, Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The trident on the temple dome

As we near the temple, I hear loud clanging of cymbals and ringing of temple bells. I try to rush in but when I enter the temple hall, the sound has ceased to exist. The prayers have concluded but a bright flame from the arti (prayer) lamp is still glowing in the room.

The aarti lamp at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The prayer lamp glows in the temple

The temple room is small and devoid of any elaborate ornamentation, just the way Lord Shiva likes His abodes to be – plain, bare and simple. On either sides of the hall, priests indulge themselves in prayer ceremonies for themselves as well for the devotees.

Priests performing prayers at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Priests and pilgrims praying to the Lord

Photo frames of Lord Ganesha, Goddess Durga and Lord Ram hang from the ceiling wall. In the center of the temple is the Nandi Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva sitting steady as His guard. Above Him hangs a huge bell. I ring it to announce my arrival and stand in the modest queue in a bid to get His darshan.

A Nandi Bull at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Lord Shiva's vehicle - The Nandi Bull

Beautifully decorated in minimalistic works of colorful glass, the sanctum room is small and dark. A diminutive diya (lamp) light flickers in the near distance. In the center is the main ling – Lord Shiva - with a huge serpent (in brass) coiled around it. Flowers, bil patras (wood apple leaves dear to Lord Shiva) offered by the pilgrims are scattered around it and the fragrance of the incense sticks lingers in the room. A brass pot called dharanatra hangs above; water trickling down from an outlet at its base drop by drop over the ling.

The main Shivling at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The Shivling in the Tungareshwar Temple sanctum room
"He is most easily pleased of all Gods and grants you with all your wishes.Pour milk on Him, chant the Shiva mantra and pray sincerely."
The words of my mother play in my mind as I kneel down and let out a tiny flow of milk from my milk bag that I have carried all the way from my house. Then, I pause and take my moments to connect with the creator.

Out of the temple after the prayers, a board directs us towards the Jag Mata temple. Curious to see it, we climb a few fleets of stairs to reach the temple. At the entrance, stands a statue of ‘Happy Man’ and a few deities in orange colored stone are neatly arranged below it.


The entrance of the Jagmata Temple - Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
The entrance of the Jagmata temple

A torrent of water flows down from the mouth of the Nandi.

Water flows from the mouth of the nandi bull, Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Water flows out of the mouth of the Nandi Bull

The temple itself is peaceful and has a lion statue, the vehicle of the Goddess in the centre of the hall right across the serene face of the mother in the sanctum area.

The Lion vehicle of maa Jagmata, Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Lion - The vehicle of Ma Jagmata

In the sanctum sanctorum sits the Mother of the Universe, Maa Jagmata keeping an eye on the activities of all Her children.

Jagmata temple, Tungareshwar temple in Vasai - Mumbai
The deity of the Jagmata at the Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Ma Durga as Ma Jagmata - The Mother of the Universe

Down again, some monkeys loiter around feeding on the chana and chips that the devouts offer.

A man affectionately feeds a monkey - Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Monkeys in the compound

A bit exhausted by now, we decide to catch a rickshaw on our way down,

Rickshaw ride back to Mumbai - Tungareshwar temple in Vasai, Mumbai
Ride back home

Rs. 50 is what he asks... 

The charge for taking us out from a sanctuary of peace and harmony back into the jungle of chaos and concrete.

Getting There and Distance: How to reach Tungareshwar

1. Best time to visit the place – Monsoons (June - September). Preferably early mornings if you wish to avoid the crowds.

2. From the Vasai station to the base of the hills: Share rickshaws plying from the Vasai Station (East) take you to the base of the hills – Sadanand Ashram. Fixed fare – Rs.25/person.


However, you can also hire it all for yourself in which case the charges go up but they are still negotiable – Rs. 125.

3. Climb from Ashram to the temple: Separate rickshaws have to be hired from here. Charges – Rs. 150 (negotiable).
Cars are also allowed. My recommendation, dump these options and walk the distance, takes around 45 minutes and with all the scenic views around, you won’t really feel it.

4. Carry your own foodstuffs and water from home. There are hardly any shops during the trek. However, you can get things once you reach the top.


Related links and Other Lord Shiva temples covered in My Yatra diary -

69 comments:

  1. What a wonderful, fascinating tour you have taken us on today, Arti! Your photos are superb, colorful and beautiful! I do so enjoy visiting your country through your blog/ photos! Thank you for sharing the beauty and the history! I hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Temple is in a beautiful scenic place. Never heard of this before.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this place, look peace in the middle of the green plant.

    It's monsoon now..?

    ReplyDelete
  4. There are many hidden pearls in India and thanks for bringing yet another one on the forefront, Arti!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great nature there is.
    Human beings didn't touch them a lot and you can feel nature itself.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful account and looks a nice place, hope its sanctity is preserved for the generations to come.
    Does this place fall under any forest area or national park...?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! What a place! Thanks Arti for showcasing such a lovely place so beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow !!! place seems really beautiful...

    Your narration and pictures also making this more beautiful...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Loved the journey with you through that hill...Superb photos and description!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice photos of the scenery and the temple, Arti. That monkey made me smile. We just don't see that in Hawaii, except in the Honolulu Zoo.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That is a nice trek up to the wonderful temple. Nice shots.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
  12. There is so much beauty in nature and in these pictures :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is good that you manage to listen to how silence speaks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I went with you on this trip toooo ... awesome pics thanks for sharing



    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
  15. Brilliant stuff :)
    It was almost I was on the trip with you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. @ALL Thank You Everyone! Very delighted to hear an encouraging feedback from all of you! :-)

    @Mareta Its the monsoon season right now in India, two more months and then we switch over to the winters. :)

    @Santosh Not exactly sure of the sanctity as it's a well known picnic spot and is known to be quite crowded. Though I was quite lucky to have a very very quiet outing.

    Regarding your query - Apart from the temple, Tungareshwar hills also has a Wildlife Sanctuary spread in a huge area of forestland, deep inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park. With sightings of flowers, different types of birds and various other creatures, it is quite well known amongst trekkers and nature enthusiasts. I'm afraid I dont know much about it but I guess you will love that place!

    ReplyDelete
  17. beautiful..........
    loved it!!!!


    (following u....not to miss any of ur pots)
    :-)

    bless u arti.

    anu

    ReplyDelete
  18. Arti, This i a beautiful blog! I have never heard of this temple/ ashram. The pics are amazing...and perhaps the month of shrawan is the best time to showcase this temple...I bow my head in reverence:0 :) Om Namah Shivaye namah!

    ReplyDelete
  19. The pictures don't enlarge when you click on them. Can you fix it?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful trek. The greenery is commendable. Seems to be a place worth visiting. I had been to Vasai but no body told me about this temple.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you so much for taking us through the entire journey along with the photos. It felt like I was actually travelling there. And the moment I saw the image of Ma Durga, I was filled with emotion. Thank you so much and God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Welcome back to India Arti :)
    The way to temple looks amazing. You took me there :) thank you

    ReplyDelete
  23. Reading your post is a visual treat, as always. :) Some really beautiful pictures. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. So enchanting Arti! I just love how in India, spirituality seems to be everywhere! Have a happy new week!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wonderful trip to an amazing destination. (I like your rickshaw driver's advice....and would certainly have needed the ride to get there!)

    ReplyDelete
  26. This temple really is far from the madding crowd, right!
    The temple also seems quite different from most temples. Simple yet having some classic touches.

    ReplyDelete
  27. As amazing as ever... i had a feeling of content, visiting the Lord Shiva temple through your blog. May Shiva bless all! :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. beautiful place enriched with nice atmosphere...

    your narration is also nice...

    beautiful photos...

    thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  29. @Zephyr Thanks for bringing that to my notice, Aunty. Will check it out and try to fix that. And do let me know if you are looking for a specific picture, I will send it across at its max. resolution. :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Its a very beautiful place..lot of greenery..and nice clicks of the nature..Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. wow !such a beautiful place just awesome

    ReplyDelete
  32. ...besides the overall lovely post I simply adored the way to the temple:) Thank you Arti:)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Very cool photos and looks like a great way to spend a morning.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Awesome adventure and nice to read all the details about the background and significance of the temple. I also really like that beginning quote!

    ReplyDelete
  35. The greenery is absolutely breathtaking... and the clean running waters. beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The temple is in beautiful nature.Humorous ride or stature make me smile and atmosphere of the temple is gentle,I think.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Have a lovely week ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Fascinating! Enjoyed the tour very much. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow, that is quite an adventure to the top. I think the pilgrimage is more meaningful if you walk, but a ride on a rickshaw looks like fun.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Such a lovely and serene place Arti..U r a brilliant narrator..U always take the readers along with ur narrations..Nice clicks..thanks for sharing..Bom Bom Bholey..

    ReplyDelete
  40. Arti your pics are so inviting,esp.the one with a window to the sky.The write up completes a joyful experience!

    ReplyDelete
  41. This was well worth the trip, i'd say. Thanks for taking us along. I feel like I was right there with you, except I didn't get a blessing. Maybe I can share a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Enchanting pictures..Superb post..!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Such a tranquil post, these places ooze spirituality. Wonderful pictures as well, as always my thanks for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete
  44. The trek through the forest was just beautiful. To leave all the noise behind is always a wonderful feeling. Thank you for sharing. Hugs Carrie

    ReplyDelete
  45. beautiful green rainy pics

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi Arti,

    Wonderful post and I enjoyed reading and learning more of your part of the world.
    So you are having the monsoon rain there, and I can see why everything is so beautifully green.

    Happy week
    Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
  47. Your post is always so descriptive、I can easily follow how things are.
    I do think it true that "names and natures do often agree". Your name Arti explains it.
    The monkey looks lovely but are they well behaved?
    Have a happy weekend, Arti.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Actually it is a surprising discovery for me as I associate Mumbai with crowded places. Thanks for this post. Such places calms you down. BTW, for a moment I thought 'My Yatra Diary' is written on driver's t-shirt. I need glasses...

    ReplyDelete
  49. wow !such a beautiful place just awesome

    ReplyDelete
  50. The place is indeed a tranquil one and the scenery beautiful especially if you make it early mornings when the crowds have still not gotten there and you have almost all of it for your own self.

    @...Petty Witter True that.

    @cosmos The monkeys here looked to be quite well behaved and friendly just like the deer in Nara Park. But in general, monkeys of India are known to be quite notorious. Famous for their love to snatch away and play with your things. Thus, its always good to be cautious with your belongings and stay safe.

    @Saru Your eye sight is perfectly alright :) That is a result of my so called creativity in water marking images. Glad you noticed it :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. i love the nature shots. and you described them so beautifully, too: "walking under the umbrella of nature." how lovely.

    have a great weekend, arti. :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. the quietness and stillness in the pictures are so inspiring and beautiful. it is really a good start for a more meaningful moment at the temple.

    ReplyDelete
  53. What a wonderful hike through beautiful scenery.

    ReplyDelete
  54. As always, so elaborately written.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. Quite interesting. I didn't about this temple. And some great shots you have there. :)

    ReplyDelete
  56. Wow, beautiful. Your photos very much remind me of an ashram I visited.

    ReplyDelete
  57. What a wonderful journey. You've been to paradise. I feel that I was part of your trip rereading this. I heard the silence in that one photo.

    Btw, thanks a lot for your concern re Manila, my dear friend.After almost five days of nonstop heavy downpour, we can see the sun outside now. First time to witness how monsoon brought so much damage in our land. Must be the climate change. The past days were frightening, we couldn't close our eyes because of the threat of flooding in our area too. We were lucky, our house was not affected.

    The whole nation is now helping each other to rise again. We can do this. Thanks a lot for your concern, my dear friend. It warms our heart. Stay safe.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Nice pics. I'd love to be alone with only goats around.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Your post on tungareshwar temple is very interesting ... every locality has a hidden treasure to explore.I think the beauty of India is exploring these places. With a culture dating back to thousands of centuries I think you have a long journey that can take you to many eventfull places. Comtinue shareing your wonderfull posts and let me soak in it ...

    ReplyDelete
  60. That's an incredibly beautiful journey, beautifully narrated and accompanied by wonderfully fascinating pictures. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Sunday !

    ReplyDelete
  61. You have written a nicely. The photographs help us in visualising and connecting with the descriptions. Wish the place remains tranquil and unpolluted.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Beautiful , peaceful, so serene and tranquil... loved this post...

    take care

    ReplyDelete
  63. never ever happen that its your blog and i forgot to archive it in my mailbox ..

    thanks Arti for this wonderful information you shared in this post .. someday .. will surely visit this place as well...

    ReplyDelete

Delighted u stopped by... Your suggestions, feedback are really appreciated. Thanks a lot! Hope you visit again!

If you have asked a question, please give me at least 2 days to reply back. Thank you :)

SHARE

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogger Widgets