Saturday, February 28, 2015

16th Annual Yoga Festival: My Call To Rishikesh

All bags packed and here I am; sitting listlessly, staring at my computer screen and wondering what lies ahead in the up coming 8 days…

…The best that my mind conjures, at this moment, are a collage of images – vivid, vibrant, exuberant, beaming...

Images of the soothingly gurgling Mother Ganga...

Rishikesh beckons, India

Of the ecstatically sung Aarti, and the accompanying songs.
And, tears And, flowers. And light...

Aarti at River Ganga, Rishikesh, India

Of the orange robed men and women and long bearded sadhus,
and soul searching wanderers,

Swami in the Yoga Capital, Rishikesh, India

... Just one day more and I will be (g)one ...

One with hundreds of free-thinking yogis, revered sadhus, sadhvis,
swamis, babas, seekers and acharyas...

In the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India

Feeling the abundant energies charging the cosmos…

Yoga Capital, Rishikesh, India

Listening to a healing music that transcends…

Sunset over River Ganga, Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh is calling.
Mother Ganga is calling.

River Ganga, Rishikesh, India

I have been summoned.
I should go.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kal Bhairava in the Bhairavnath Temple: Saswad, Pune

The ancient Bhairavnath Temple is situated in the central part of the Saswad town and is very popular with the locals. One reason for its popularity is its antiquity and yet, its exact age is not known. The other reason why people flock to this temple is its guardian deity - Kal Bhairav or the Lord of Time – the fierce and terrifying looking deity in the Hindu Texts, a demeanor He reserves for the evil hearted and the wicked.

For the devout and the noble, Kal Bhairava is a protector, a care taker who bestows blessings by keeping all the ill influences away. Being a manifestation of Lord Shiva, it is pretty common to see Kal Bhairava following the trail of His Master. This is the reason why you can commonly find Him in many Shiva temples across India guarding His Master. (See: Kal Bhairava temple in Varanasi and Kal Bhairava temples in Jyotirlings).

The same thing applies to Saswad. Here, Lord Kal Bhairav, sits in the Bhairavnath temple and keeps an eye on the various ancient medieval temples of Shiva spread all around the town like Sangameshwar, Changavateshwar, Nageshwar, etc. some dating back to the 8th century. 

If you are planning to visit the ancient Shiva temples in Saswad, this magnificent Bhairavnath Temple is definitely a good place to start.


The imposing Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The imposing citadel - the entrance of the Bhairavanth Temple.

The entrance to the Bhairavnath temple resembles a fort with imposing fortified walls and a flag fluttering high on the central arched canopy. Perhaps, the citadel is a signal for the enemies to keep at bay! The huge square area in front of the daunting temple walls is where we parked our cars and a flight of stairs led us to the temple gate. The well painted gleaming exteriors suggested to me that the temple had been newly renovated. The temple walls are made in black bricks and stone, the color of a Shivling, except for the upper part which is coated in yellow.


The gold plated spire of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The yellow colored spire of the temple against the rustic backdrop of stone.

Small metallic gates at the entrance open into a wide spacious pillared courtyard. As soon as I stepped inside, drawings of 2 serpents, one on each side of the pillared canopy above caught my attention.

The snake painting in the pavillion of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Can you see the serpents peeping down from the canopy?

Walk straight and through the courtyard and you reach the main temple hall.

The temple room, a fine blend of stunning glass and stone work, looks pretty impressive at first sight. The beauty is further accentuated by colorful motifs of auspicious signs and symbols like Aum and Swastika adorning the glass ceilings and the door framing the garbhagriha.


The temple hall of Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The temple hall in stunning glass work.

Above the doorframe, Lord Ganesha looks on, smaller in size than the one gazing through the sanctum. Incised just above Him is the sacred mantra, Shree Bhairavnath Prasann, which I silently concentrated on for a few minutes even as I prepared myself to offer my prayers.

The mantra in the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The toran and the mantra at the door frame of the sanctum sanctorum.

The sanctum or the garbhagriha is a stony enclosure housing deities of Kal Bahirava, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman. I closed my eyes and inwardly praised Lord Bhairava for His ferocious courage and steadfast love for Lord Shiva…

A view of the sanctum sanctorum in the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Deities of Kal Bhairava, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman in the sanctum sanctorum.

Cupping my hands over the diya gleaming outside, I flushed my face with the warmth of its radiance. The diya imparted a lifelike glow to the garlanded metallic deity of Kal Bhairav, installed specifically for the visitors who wish to perform ritualistic Pooja with flowers, rice and vermillion kumkum.

The deity of Bhairavnath in metal, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The metallic deity of Kal Bhairava where devouts offer their prayers.
The pradakshina marg cuts across the courtyard where you can see a few other deities, predominantly the Navgrahas – Shani, Rahu, Ketu, etc…

The pradakshina marg at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Other deities at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The Navgraha deities at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Lord Ganesha at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Stone walls at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The Pradakshina Marg: The various deities in while circumnavigating the temple.

There are also large deepmalas flanking the entrance door which are probably used during festivals and important events.


The magnificent citadel of Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Deepmalas: Which lights up during festivals.

The outer courtyard has huge Banyan trees which do a very good job of providing shade to weary pilgrims and there also exist two smaller deepmalas in front of the entrance. 


The large spacious courtyard of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Banyan trees and the tortoise in the courtyard of the temple.
Beneath the canopied tree, is a tortoise carved out on the stone floor, believed to bring good luck and fortune.


The tortoise of good fortune, Bhairavnath temple courtyard, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The tortoise: A messenger of good luck and fortune.

How to get there?

The Bhairavnath Temple is situated near the Sangameshwar Temple and the Purandare Wada which was once the majestic residence of Sardar Ambaji Purandare, a close aide and dewan to Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and his son Bajirao I but which now lies in a dilapidated state. The Temple lies in the small town of Saswad and is easy to reach - you can just ask the locals about its whereabouts after you enter Saswad and you will be duly guided by the helpful people.

Bhairavnath Temple Timings:



Friday, February 20, 2015

Dive Ghat to Saswad: A Weekend Getaway From Pune!

Every inch of Saswad soil has a chapter of history written on it! 
~ Babasaheb Purandare

Out to explore Pune with a day in hand and no fixed plans, we were thinking of where to head, busy tossing options between places within Pune vs excursions beyond Pune when our driver highly recommended Saswad and we settled for it. 

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY: SASWAD

Around 30 kms from Pune, at an approximate altitude of 2520 ft, nestled in the lap of the mighty Sahyadri peaks, on the banks of the Karha River and overlooking the bustling city of Pune, lies a laid-back, secretive, sleeping beauty, Saswad.

The winding road of the Pune-Saswad Dive Ghat Highway

To get to this charming town, one has to climb a beautaceous and long curvaceous ghat
– Dive Ghat, serving as a connector from Pune.

Our journey began with the humdrum of our car engine ricocheting in the yawning hills of the towering Sahyadris and we – like eagles in flight - soaring out of the chaos of Pune towards a land ensconced in magical peace.

View of the sahyadri hills from Dive Ghat, Pune

Rugged mountains, twisting slopes, wild vegetation, miniature buildings –
the sights were all there as I gasped in amazement and saw Pune receding past under my window – getting distantly far with each winding turn of the car.

The entire stretch of Dive Ghat is an ecstatic delight, doubling up as a nature’s insulator by keeping the insanity of Pune at bay. The place becomes even more picturesque as the monsoon comes calling. A blanket of greenery covers the entire landscape with streams of waterfalls flowing everywhere, an enchanting sight indeed! This scenic drive through the ghat has endowed Saswad to retain its enduring character and a timeless charm. Cut off from mainstream urbanization and rather offbeat in the Pune trail, Saswad is irresistible and makes for a great weekend getaway for the Puneiites or an inviting excursion site for visiting travelers like us.

Fields and muddy tracks on the Pune-Saswad Dive Ghat Highway

After a drive of 10 minutes or so, the Dive Ghat ended in a tawny plateau...

... replacing the verdant valleys and craggy mountains with a contrasting picture of emerald cloaked fields, scattered villages, and thatched huts with straw roofs, lazing buffaloes and the warm inviting villagefolk. Here, on the sun burnt highway, you will see, men and women – after hours of working in their orchards and fields – sitting patiently under the canopy of their makeshift shacks waiting for prospective customers to buy figs and custard apples, their fruits of hard labor.

A village woman sells figs, custard apples on the Pune-Saswad Dive Ghat Highway

I met a wonderful woman, Mrs Nanda Jhende and bought a few figs which were exceptional in taste – much more delicious to what I have eaten in my entire life till now!

There is a bit of bargain but honestly, the figs were so naturally delicious that I wouldn’t have bothered paying even more! The best thing about these fruits is that they are freshly picked from the fields and sold by the farmers themselves – no middle business. The only thing that tasted sweeter perhaps, at that time, was my meeting with Mrs Nanda, who gifted me a specially chosen fig as a souvenir of our bond shared over this photograph.

Fig trees enroute the Pune-Saswad Dive Ghat in Maharashtra
Figs trees along the Dive Ghat - a refreshing sight!
The beckoning drive finally ends in the snoozing town of Saswad draped in its many chapters of colorful history devoted to the past, each compelling and riveting enough to beckon enthusiasts for more.

Turn the pages and a mystical veil enfolds – revealing stories of valor, bhakti and romance resplendent in its forbidding fortresses, stoic temples and verdant lakes breathing life and vibrancy to this enigmatic town on the outskirts of the city today.

A glimpse into the historically Significant town of saswad near Pune, Maharashtra

Saswad is blesssed with a number of forts in and around itself and a trek down one of them is one of the best ways o experience the beauty of the terrain. Malhargad fort, Vajragad fort, Rajgad fort and Torana fort stand circling the town, clearly suggesting that Saswad was once in the hubbub of ace warfare activities carried out by the Maratha rulers.

A fort worth a visit and more popular though stands in Saswad itself - Purandar Wada, once the residence of a chief minister Ambaji Purandare in Peshwa’s kingdom around the year 1710, today Maharashtra’s oldest standing structure of the era but lying decrepit in a state of abandon. A little away from the fort is the peace inducing Samadhi sthal of Sant Sopandev where you can channelize your inner zen and unlock the treasures of positivity and spirituality. Spread all around the town, also further beyond, are ancient temples such as Sangameshwar, Narayanpur, Jejuri, Pandharpur, Morgaon and Bhuleshwar known for their ardent devotion as for their historical significance.

The beautiful historic town Saswad near Pune

Once I treaded the long roads to Saswad, I was relentlessly reminded...
how time has stood still here even at times when everything else is changing.

Centuries have paused in Saswad to catch their breath and then moved on but the presence of mystical saints, brave heart warriors and magical quietude is palpable even today. For Saswad, age is just a number for, in its wake, she has grown to be more and more gorgeous than before.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vada Pav, Misal Pav and South Indian: A Travel Blogger's Food Guide For Pune!

Pune is a city which, like Mumbai, has grown to emulate a cosmic kaleidoscope of cultures, drawing influence from all over India, also the globe. Naturally then, one gets to see taste this cosmic character in its food too.

In spite of this urban influence, what I really like about this city is how it has not outgrown enough to shed its native skin. No matter the multitude of Multicuisine restaurants or the Udipi flavors springing up in the nooks and crannies of the city, Pune still very much continues to delight every visitor with its plethora of Maharashtrian flavors till date.

Rich in simple ingredients and cooked in incredibly original spices, the flavors of Maharashtrian food, ranging from mild to spicy to very spicy, are mind boggling for anyone and everyone pinning their senses on it. All you need to do is step onto its streets and let your nose lead the way. Vada Pav, Ussal, Misal Pav, Kande Pohe, Puran Poli, Modaks – the list of domestic cuisine is simply endless.

I got a taste of the traditional as well as the non-regional and ended up spending a highly appetizing day in Pune. Based on what I liked and where, here’s presenting my Food guide in Pune!

Come along, dig in, take your pick and be prepared to forget about all your diet regimes because with the insanely tasty flavors of Pune, the craving just never ends! Let’s go!!


BREAKFAST @ ABA POWAR OR SRI KALA MISAL:

Arjun Powar of Sri Kala Missal Snacks in Pune, Maharashtra

Arjun Powar - The owner son of Aba Powar sports a friendly smile.

My quest "Where to have Misal in Pune?" took me to Sri Kala Misal, a shop that specializes in spicy Misal Pav – a fiery curry of moth bean sprouts cooked in a freshly ground spice blend topped with a generous helping of crispy-munchy farsaan (Indian fried savoury mixes), chopped onions, freshly cut coriander and a dash of lime eaten along with butter roasted bun breads or pavs.

Aba Powar or Sri Kala Missal Pav Center in Pune Rasta Peth, KEM, Maharashtra

Aba Powar or Sri Kala Misal Center takes pride
in serving one of the BEST versions of Misal Pav in the city.

The place stays especially active in the mornings with a lot of people heading there for their daily meal of the day. The shop is composed of a sit down eatery area and a take away push-cart area outside where 2 guys can be seen neatly doling out plates after plates of Misal incessantly. Though busy and crowded, the eatery is fairly clean and the taste of the misal incredibly good – the same reason why it’s so popular with the locals!

What to eat?

As goes the name, there’s really only one thing you should eat here – Misal Pav, topped with freshly cut onions, served with a mug of hot and spicy curry known as tarri or kut.

The spicy popular regional mix beans curry Missal Pav in Pune, Maharashtra
 The spicy fiery Missal Pav in Pune, Maharashtra


I took a plate of Misal Pav (later added extra pavs to it) and a glass of chaas (buttermilk) along. The misal fare is very very spicy so make sure you team it up with a glass of buttermilk or their home made laddoos, if you are not very spicy-friendly like me.

What caught my eye?

Best part of the restaurant is the rows of insightful posters pasted on the wall that gaze at you while you devour your food.

A poster at Sri Kala Missal Pav Snacks center in Pune, Maharashtra

So much better than staring at a blank wall, isn’t it?

Rough Translation - A man loses his health to acquire money,
and then to regain his health back,
he loses off all of his earned money.
In worrying for the future he loses the present moment,
Hence, he lives neither in the future nor the present,
He lives as if he will never die,
And dies as if he has never lived.

There are fewer combinations that are better than this ‘Food for the stomach + Food for the soul!’

How to get there?

Sri Kala is located in a lane adjacent to the KEM Hospital. Once you get to the hospital, take the Jawaharlal Nehru Road and continue towards the Murlidhar Road. You will find a lot of small-makeshift thelas or pushcarts in the lane leading to Sri Kala.

Timings: Closes by 4 in the evening.

Kande Pohe or flattened rice flakes seasoned with mustard seeds, onions and lemon juice, is another popular and extremely scrumptious option for breakfast in Pune. A lot of stalls spring up in the morning to satiate the hungry palletes of Punekars serving freshly cooked puffed rice, Kande Pohe in make shift street shops that pack up as soon as their lot is over. I happened to find one on my way to Tulsibaug for a reasonable amount of Rs. 15 and I totally loved it!



LUNCH @ GARDEN VADA PAV, CAMP AREA:

You can’t travel in Maharastra and not have this quintessential and irresistible, humble man’s food often touted as the Indian styled burger, the Vada Pav. My longing for the same took me to Garden Vada Pav shop in the Camp area.

The place where to eat in Vada Pav in Pune - Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra
People crowd the famous Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

It’s located in a small older lane of the locality and when I reached there,
I saw a fair crowd of locals gathered around.

There are a couple of tables (sans the chairs) spread just outside the shop where you can enjoy your crunchy, fresh hot and right out of the cauldron - Vada Pavs!

What to eat?

Piping hot breakfast of Pune, Vada Pav's being fried at Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

You get to enjoy these sights right in front of your eyes with each bite that you take!

The Vada Pav – deep fried spicy potato filled balls coated in a thick gram flour batter coupled with fresh fluffy buns - is their specialty and that’s what we took, a single costing an affordable Rs. 14 (Rs. 12 minus the pav). They also serve the masala taak or masala chaas (buttermilk) but we did not try it.

The Maharastrian popular breakfast at Garden vada pav jaunt in Pune camp, Maharashtra

The vada pavs were spiced up with green chutney
and a few fried chillies as toppings to up that zingy quotient.

I thought these were pretty good but can’t say if these were the best I have had till date. One flipside to them was the missing red lahsun (garlic) chutney which, I think, makes for an essential companion along with the green chutney.

What caught my eye?

What I really liked about this place was the freshness quotient – the vadas are sold out just moments after coming out of the coal-hot cauldron – the place is that crowded with the local people!

Hot and spicy delicious Vada Pav at Garden vada pav in Pune camp, Maharashtra


How to get there?

It is located at Bootee Street in a narrow, cramped lane of the Camp area, right next to JJ garden covering 2 shops with numbers 948 and 949. Take the Dastur Meher Road and keep your eyes open for a big orange board with the name of the shop written in Hindi. The crowd outside gives a good hint too. If you still find a problem locating the place, you can always ask – the place is hugely popular with the locals. SGS Mall is another landmark situated nearby.

Timings:

The shop remains open from 9 in the morning to 9 in the night.



SUGARCANE JUICE OR GANNE KA RAS @ ROADSIDE STALLS:

Maharashtra being one of the leading manufacturers of the ultra sweet Sugarcane, sugarcane juice is one drink that is widely available in all of the state, including Pune. There are two ways of juice extraction here – automated and manual. The manual ones are really fascinating because of their wooden make and labor involved but unfortunately, in the one day trip that I was there, I did not bump in any.

Where to find?

You don’t need to find them. Rather, trust the sugarcane stalls to find you. These are scattered in the byways and streets, so you can choose to stop at one according to your liking.

What to drink?

The natural coolant Sugarcane juice in Pune, Maharashtra

After the heavy dose of all the spicy street food over the day and the weary travelling, a glass of naturally sweet and cool sugarcane juice refreshes me like nothing else. I asked the vendor for an extra dash of ginger and lemon for an added flavor – the cooler was so phenomenal that I couldn’t resist taking another glass full!



DINNER @ VAISHALI RESTAURANT, FC ROAD:

After getting a local-regional fill during the day, we decided to go non-regional cuisine in one of the best restaurants in Pune for the night – Vaishali – a celebrated delight for all South Indian food lovers.

One of the most famous eating South Indian joint in Pune - Vaishali Restaurant, FC Road, Maharashtra

It’s the Idli, Medu Vada and Dosas that they are most known for and I was extremely satisfied after filling my stomach tank here. The restaurant is nice, robust and clean, has a good seating area, is always jam packed (I had to wait for over 40 minutes to get a seat!) but if you wait your turn and grab a table (grab is the word because there is no line system!), you will love the food!

What to eat?

The first time I ate at Vaishali, I ordered a round of South Indian fare – Idli and Meduvada – the taste was so good that I almost could not believe that I was sitting in Western India!

Dosa at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra
Idli at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

I saw a lot of people eating the northern delight Sev Puri Chaat (crispy flat fried puris topped with an array of spicy sweet tangy chutneys assembled in a host of colorful veggies and sev) around and that got me curious. I later came to know that it is one of the hot selling items of the hotel, better known as abbreviated SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri Chaat), so I ordered one for myself too and loved it!

North Indian Sev Puri Chaat at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

I washed all of it down with a hot cup of coffee which was another wonderful taste-alike from the southern states of India.

Typical south Indian coffee at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

What caught my eye?

It was interesting to see the waiters taking down orders on their serving tray and not on writing pads as is generally the case.

Unique style of order taking at Vaishali Restaurant in Pune, Maharashtra

In an age where people are bunking old methods in the name of advancement and technology, I thought this was an amazing idea to go back to our roots of pencil and slate. Not only is this eco-friendly as it saves a lot of paper but it is also cost effective as it requires no techno-additives.

How to get there?

Since Vaishali’s is located at one of the most prime and posh locations of Pune - Fergusson College Road near Deccan Gymkhana - it is extremely easy to trace this eatery. The restaurant is flanked by high end shops and street shops alike that get a lot of attention by the shopaholics of the city. It was a 2 minute walk from my hotel.

Timings: 7 AM to 11 PM


Have you been to Pune?
Eaten at any of these places? If yes, how was your experience?
Any other fine dining restaurants or places to eat in Pune
that you would like to recommend, let me know and
I would love to try the next time I am in the IT city!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Temple Trail of Pune: Meeting the Mystics and More!

Pune is modernized. Concrete. Buzzing. Busy.
And yet,
Pune is also tranquil. Quiet. Peace.
Calming, like the waters of a gentle river.
Enigmatic, like a contemplative yogi in a trance.
Captivating, like a gleaming shell of the sea.

This, inner layer of the city, is what I call 'The Peaceful Pune'. Because it is all what I just said above and more. This Pune is quaintly ancient mirroring an era that has held its tidings and refused to gather dust over time, no matter the urbanization. Yes, it’s got a lot of temples in it, and it might well be THE temple trail of Pune, but what makes it remarkably distinct is that it is not just-any-ordinary-temple-trail manifested in rituals and reverences, rather these temples are a living lesson in humanity, they are gala celebrations of art and skill, the epitome of what spirituality actually means.

This is the spirit of the city that I love. I may not always be able to tap this aspect about her, in entirety, but still, never fail to grab a share of it, however small it may be.

The ancient Shree Ram Temple of Tulsibaug is one such temple we have already seen in this Pune yatra series of ours, let’s take a look at the other ancient temples of Pune that are nothing less than treasures of a mystical world:

Pataleshwar Temple (also called Panchaleshvara or Bamburde):

Pataleshwar caves temple is incredibly quiet for a protected national monument standing bang in the middle of a crowded locality. Dating back to the 8th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva – the God of the Underwater World - the caves bear a similar semblance to Ellora caves of Mumbai or the Konark Temple of Orissa, inspiring awe with its spectacular rock cut sculptures redolent of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

While I missed making it to the temple this time, I have visited it several times in the past and each time, the experience has been spiritually uplifting. These pictures below are from a previous trip of taken around 5 years ago.

The Pataleshwar cave temple in Pune, Maharashtra
The Pataleshwar caves is an ornate rock cut temple dating back to the 8th century.
The temple room, an ornately pillared dark cave house, encloses the sanctum with the ancient Shiva lingam and His vehicle bull, the Nandi besides Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati.

Lord Shiva in the Pataleshwar cave temple in Pune, Maharashtra
Lord Shiva in the dark sanctum of the cave.
Lord Ganesha in The Pataleshwar cave temple in Pune, Maharashtra
Lord Ganesha, draped in deep orange, sits near His father.
Lord Rama, Laxman and Sita at the Pataleshwar cave temple in Pune, Maharashtra
Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Laxman right out of a scene from the grand epic Ramayana.

The stony artistic landscaping (left incomplete) coupled with the historic antiquity of the structure truly confers a mystical enigma over the entire setting, making this temple a gem of a place not to be missed in the hubbub of the city!

How to reach: The temple is centrally located just across the Mutha river, on the Junglee Maharaj Road (J. M. Road) in Shivaji Nagar. Quiz the auto rickshaw drivers or the locals and in most cases, they shall help you in getting there. A passage through the Junglee Maharaj Temple located adjacent to the caves, also leads you to the temple.

Temple timings: 8.30 Am to 5.30 Pm

Junglee Maharaj Temple:

Adjoining the Pataleshwar caves temple is another oasis of peace and an equally compelling place – Junglee Maharaj Temple - so silent that I have often find students busy studying for their exams in the premises. At other times, people prefer chanting mantras or just sitting in meditative silence. Such is the calming aura that emanates from the Samadhi Sthal of a 19th century Spartan Yogi more popularly known as Jangli Maharaj or the Yogi of the Jungle by the common folk.

Ascetic Yogi Jangli Maharaj, Pune

Junglee maharaj – an ascetic yogi, an unusally tall man of more than 7 feet in height - was a disciple of Swami Samarth of Akkalkot.

The best feature of the temple is the subtle message one receives in the huge brass bell hanging at the entrance along with a lotus carving – it seems to say - ward off the evils inside you, lift your spirits to the spiritual plane and open a new door to joy and happiness.

How to get there: It’s situated on a road by the same name: Jangli Maharaj Road or J.M. Road which is a pretty busy road of Pune.

Osho Commune:

The Meditation dance in Osho Commune, Pune
Photo credit: Osho.com
Don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Move the way love makes you move.
Move the way joy makes you move.

The words - Meditation and resort – are rarely used together but with Osho, they do! The Osho Meditation center in Pune is a must visit if you are a follower of His teachings and quotes. Even otherwise, this place leaves you amazed with the sight of the maroon robed Swamis and Ma’s roaming around in the campus. Also, with the swirls and twirls of splendorous sufi and soul-soothing zen that promise to engulf you in a trance.

The great mystic in Pune - Osho

I have been to this retreat, a few years back and though I don't really remember taking a thorough tour of the place, it still managed to charm its way in for all the enigma it holds.

Address: Osho International Meditation Resort,
17 Koregaon Park,
Pune,
Maharastra - 411 001.

Phone: +91 20 6601 9999
Fax: +91 20 6601 9990

Parvati Hill

Touted as city’s oldest heritage structure, Parvati Temple sits coyly nestled in the emerald lap of the Parvati hills, 2100 mtrs above sea level. You have to climb around a hundred steep steps to reach the top which besides being a place close to the divine, also proffers great views of the city buzzing below. The temple architecture is remnant to the Peshwa dynasty and houses deities of Goddess Parvati - Her Husband Shiva and two sons Ganesha and KartiKeya along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Ram.

Parvati Hill Temple, Pune, Maharashtra
Atop the hill - The ancient Parvati temple in Pune
It is one temple I am yet to visit and I can’t wait for the day when I will be there someday.

Timings: 4 Am to 9 PM

Good time to visit: Early morning or late afternoon when the touristy crowd is less.

Previous Posts from Pune:



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