Monday, May 29, 2017

Places to Visit in Pune: Exploring the Historic (And Haunted?) Shaniwar Wada!

Dilli Darwaza - Main Gate at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Impressive and historic entrance at Shaniwar wada
​​It’s interesting how a whiff of history breathes life into ruins of a fortress that otherwise stands listless in the mirror of time. The beauty of these structures and buildings lies incomplete if an effort is not made to see past the brick of walls, and question – what happened to them… what really lies beyond?

And then, laden with such curiosity, a journey begins… a journey that paints stories, nuggets and secrets from an era gone by... on the canvas of our imagination. Strokes of emotions like love, loss, lies and betrayal, sometimes pleasant, often unpleasant, run through them as a glue that hold the various pieces of the remnants together uncovering the bigger picture, like a jigsaw puzzle.

A latch on a door in Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Knock, knock!
Well, if you agree, come along and let us together embark on one such journey by stepping into the 18th century edifice Shaniwar Wada and let curiosity be our guide -

Delhi Darwaza and other gates:

Standing right at the entrance of the Wada will leave you in awe, thanks to the imposing gate called Dilli Darwaza which reminds of the bravery and triumph of the Maratha Empire.

The door Dilli Darwaza is enormous and sturdy befitting the stature of the Peshwas in those times – one can see several sharp pointed howdahs (seating canopies) arranged meticulously jutting out of the gate so built as to drive away battle-elephants charging the gates in case of an attack.

What amazed me was the architectural precision in building the gate where security was a primary concern but at the same time the admission of in-house elephants with howdahs held high wasn’t neglected either and the gate was built accordingly.

Spikes of Dilli Darwaza at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Security was given high prominence in building the main gate.
Dilli Darwaza stands tall at 3.25 meters high and 6 meters long!

Shaniwar Wada has 5 gates in all, out of which Dilli Darwaza is used to let in people through to the grounds – so this is the main gate towards the north pointing towards Delhi.

You can also see the other gates namely --

Mastani Darwaza (Mastani's Gate) later renamed Alibahaddur (Mastani's grandson) darwaza in the north which was used by Mastani (Bajirao I’s second wife) to leave and enter the palace. 10 guards used to stand at this gate.

Mastani Gate, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Mastani gate used by Bajirao's well known second wife, Mastani.
Then comes Khidki Darwaza (Window Gate) towards the east which has a small window in its construct; Ganesh Darwaza (Ganesh Gate) facing south-east named after Ganesh Rang Mahal, a palace which used to stand near this door. Ladies used this as well, to visit the Kasba Ganapati temple which is just adjacent to this door. And the last one is Jambhul Darwaza or Narayan Darwaza (Narayan's Gate) facing southeast which was used by concubines and dancers to enter and leave the fort. Later, this gate was where Narayan Rao’s body was taken out after murder. Will brief you more on that later in the post.

Narayan Gate, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Narayan Gate from where Narayan Rao's body was taken out after murder.

History behind Shaniwar Wada and what remains today:

The fort was established on the banks of River Mutha, in the city of Pune, Maharashtra, as a house for the Peshwas built in the honour of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal Balaji Bhat (Bajirao I) for his heroic acts of courage in the Maratha Empire. As the foundation stone (and later also the inauguration) of the soon-to-be-residence was laid on a Saturday, January 10, 1730, it was so named as Shaniwar Wada (Saturday and residence).

Family tree of the Peshwas at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Family tree of the Peshwas.
For the construction, teak was imported from the jungles of Junnar, stones were brought from Chinchwad, and limestone from the belts of Jejuri – a lot of money went into the building of this seven storeyed edifice (a total cost of Rs. 16,110 (said to a hefty treasure even for those times!)) which took over two years for completion and ready to move in by Peshwa Bajirao’s family.

What remains of all that money today is a different story altogether:

After entering the wada through the Dilli Darwaza, one can see indistinct frescoes on the walls.

Ganesha Gods Frescoes on walls in Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
I could see Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu on Sheshnag there… can you see them?

I later learnt that the walls of the Wada, in its heydays, were once covered with colourful frescoes depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata all over them. Just below the fresco is a large canon which stands as a grim testimony to the wars of those times.

A canon on display, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
A canon on entrance, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Canons on display inside the Wada.
Once inside, the landscape is a bizarre medley of floral tones mixed in stone.

Lovely flowers in teh garden of Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Poetry in flower and... stone!
The Shaniwar Wada was originally supposed to be made entirely of stone but after the completion of the first storey, people raised an objection that stone buildings can be built only by the king himself and not the Peshwas. This led to the remaining storeys being completed in brick. 90 years later, in 1818, the Wada was attacked by the British East India Company and in the battle that ensued all the top six stories collapsed leaving only the stone base which we see today. After the British took over, the fort became the residence of the British officers for a decade until 1828 when a major fire broke within the fort for seven days and caused heavy destruction to the monument.

Nagarkhana above Dilli Darwaza at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
The Nagarkhana can be seen right up there!
The garden and the flowers were added later (by the ASI and other managing authorities) and look quite modern.

As you climb the stairs above Delhi Darwaza, you reach the Nagarkhana or the Drum House which survived the fire. From here, you can see the entire Wada in one panoramic glance. The Nagarkhana is wooden in its construct including the pillars and the arches. On the opposite side i.e. towards the entrance, you can also see the soaring statue of Bajirao -I on a galloping horse with a spear in his hand all set to attack the enemies.

A chamber at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Chambers and hallways, Mastani Mahal, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Nagarkhana done in wood.
As seen from Nagarkhana above Dilli Darwaza at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Chiman Baug, Shaniwar Wada Pune
Chiman Bagh or garden inside Shaniwar Wada
as seen from the Nagarkhana.
Connected to the Nagarkhana, on the north-east side of the Wada, is the elegant Mastani Mahal, the residence of Bajirao I’s beloved Mastani. The haveli have a few rooms with doors all of which are locked, so there is nothing much to see here except the views which are stunning!

A hidden door at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
A door in Mastani Mahal.
Walking further, is a parapet attached to the massive periphery walls of the Wada which takes you around the palace and its 9 bastions in between.

Walkway along the perimeter at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Walk around this elevated parapet for a complete Wada tour.
This was one of the best highlights of the Wada for me. Walking here, one can see the ruined remains and gardens on one side and the busy street on the other.

View of Shaniwar wada from the side walk, Pune
Nana Wada old building heritage in Pune
Small windows at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
All that you can see while walking the parapet.
In between are bastions, small windows, and narrow steps leading to secret passages and doors... looking at them, I couldn’t help but wonder what lied beyond them.

How many Peshwas walked these steps?
What strategies were hatched behind those doors
and did Narayanrao ran out screaming through this very pavement?

A brick house below a bastion at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
A passage in Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Mysterious passages and doorways along the way.

With these questions in mind, I ascended the steps and decided to spend some time in the garden area at the base level. Here, history came alive as I encountered the ruins of various palaces, havelis and mahals that now lay in shambles.

First was the Ganesh Rang Mahal (constructed by Peshwa Bajirao I) which hosted religious ceremonies, various functions and was known for its grand architecture. The halls were said to have huge curtains adorned with beautiful fountains.

Ganesh Rang Mahal vlong side Chiman Bagh
Notable among them was ‘Hazari Karanje’ (fountain with a thousand spray) of the lotus shape with sixteen petals. This was a master piece of that time.

A reservoir at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
A large reservoir at the Wada;
a necessity in those times.
Facing the Ganesh Ranga Mahal is a garden called Chimanbaug. Apart from these fountains and mahals, there are ruins of Peshwa’s office area, reservoirs, quarters of servants and Arse Mahal of Nanasaheb Peshwa. This palace had a seven storied building and from the terrace the spire of Alandi temple was visible, but the destructive fire spared nothing.

Stone foundation remnants, Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Stone remnants at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Ruins and remnants in Shaniwar Wada.
So unfortunately, all that remains of everything literally in this gigantic Wada - are ruins and ruins and more ruins - nothing more.

Is Shaniwar Wada Haunted?

The structure which was once renowned for its architectural brilliance and a beaming beacon of success against the Mughal Empire, is today dreaded for supernatural activities on the full-moon night. If the local stories are to be believed, the fort is haunted by the ghost of Bajirao I’s grandson Narayanrao, who was brutally killed on orders of his relatives.

Internal greed for power and family politics among the Bajirao family ultimately led to the downfall culminating in one of the goriest murders in history. In 1773, the fifth and the youngest Peshwa ruler, Narayanrao had an ugly fallout with his uncle Raghoba and aunt Anandibai over the throne and ordered an house arrest for his uncle.

An enraged Anandibai teamed up the tribals of the region and got Narayan Rao killed, in a brutal manner. At the time of the attack, Narayan Rao headed straight for his uncle, shouting for help, “Kaaka! Maala vaachva (Uncle save me)”, but no one came to his help and Narayan Rao’s body was mercilessly cut into innumerable pieces which had to be taken out into pots.

It’s been quite some time that people around the area, who have earlier witnessed the lingering sound, have heard anything supernatural or ghostly so many are now led to believe that the ghost is finally resting in peace.

Floral bloom at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Dark eerie chapters lurk in the corners of the Wada
The place resonates the sentiments. Shaniwar Wada today is a safe place to spend some time with family, friends and children while regaling in its fascinating history. There are vast spaces enclosed in a garden to breathe in some fresh air, a long and narrow walk encircles the entire perimeter of the fort - the sights all around enriching reminding of the glory gone by.

A kid gives a pose at Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
There is nothing to worry, assures his smile!
What was most disheartening to see, for me however, was how Shaniwar Wada never prospered as imagined by Peshwa Bajirao instead was heavily throttled by the webs of disloyalty, deceit and violence. What stands as a huge tourist attraction once the seat of the Peshwas, a major cultural landmark today, at the edge of a bustling bazaar in the middle of the city, when scratched further… this regal-yet-in-ruins fortress splattered with spacious corridors, stony remains and fortified walls reveals a politically deadly and hauntingly intriguing picture painting a rather gruesome and painful chapter in the length of Indian history. (And who doesn’t love intrigue? Remember the Hindi feature film Bajirao Mastani?)

View from above Dilli Darwaza - Shaniwar wada fort, Pune
Entangled in the webs of disloyalty -
Peshwa Bajirao's Shaniwar Wada!
As I moved out of the Wada, I spent a few minutes staring at the large statue of Bajirao I galloping his way towards victory(?) with the Wada in the background. The image stood as a stark reminder of the hazards of being blinded by the love of power – and how it tore the strong and sturdy Peshwa household into pieces leading to the downfall of the Empire. That scene broke a piece of my heart as well.

Tips for travelers and other information:

- Entry fee for Indians is Rs. 5 while it is Rs. 125 for foreigners.

- The light and sound show is a major attraction though we had to give it a miss. Make sure to catch it if possible. Timing of the show is 7:15 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. in Marathi. Alternatively you can watch the English version which runs from 8:15 p.m. to 9:10 p.m.

- Ticket rate for the light and sound show is Rs. 25/- per head

- Ticket booking cannot be done in advance; you can buy them at the ticket counter itself from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

- The place is littered with waste here and there, so as a responsible tourist and traveller make sure you make your contribution towards #SwachchBharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Mission). In addition, also try and stop the people who are blissfully abusing the place in neglect and ignorance.

- The place closes at 6.30 p.m., but as what happened in our case, they start evacuating the palace grounds at around 6 itself, so plan accordingly. It takes minimum 1 hour to roam the grounds of the Wada and if the place catches your interest, then even more!

- Address and contact information: Shaniwar Peth, Pune 411030, India || +91-20-2612 6867.

Previous Posts from Pune-Pandharpur yatra diary:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Soulie Saturday #6: Standing Alone - A Lesson by The Citadel. (Bhuleshwar Fort, Pune)

A citadel fort at the bottom of the  Bhuleshwar Shiva Temple near Yavat Pune
A citadel at the base of the  Bhuleshwar Shiva Temple near Yavat, Pune

Carved in brick, lime and stone
a huge citadel
at the base of a massive fort
I don’t know why
I was made to stand here alone.

Those were times out of my control,
in spite of being gigantic,
I felt like a titanic
sunk in the woods and valleys steep
dimly lit through the mists of the deep

The enemy attacked one day
howdahs and shovel in hand
scared and shaken
I wanted to live
run away and hide
to someplace beautiful
where nothing was as frightening
brutal or hurtful.

The arrows flew high and low
I withered in agony
my heart crumbling in the tragedy
adorned with the unfortunate blow.

But life was wise
through the perilous fight
the pain came shouting
took shelter in my stride.

Damaged and wounded,
I thought I would die
but suddenly then,
someone turned my weeping eye

On the other side of my wall,
the flag of triumph was flying high
the sky was full of laughter
uninhibited joy.

In a matter of seconds, 
my world of misery
collided upside down.
And it was now that I realized
how my wave of I
crashed into the ocean of we
through my strewn shards of pain
I could finally see
hugging the resonance of hope
the cries of our victory.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes,
clearing the dirt off my glasses
I started breathing again
a new found freedom rushed through my vein.

God had been kind
helping me win an invisible battle
that raged so fierce in my mind
life is full of color and light
from the day I placed my trust in his sight –

Once alone,
I now stand in company,
the naked grass, warm with spring
the bushes and shrubs
swaying under in summer's sun-kissed field
For after fighting long and best
a hero deserves peaceful rest.

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While climbing the Bhuleshwar temple near Yavat in Pune, I came across this impressive citadel, which stands at the base of the temple. Though people visit this place today chiefly for the 13th century Shiva temple known for its unique architecture, this historic citadel is mighty in its own right.

Sometimes called as 'Mangalgadh' and at other times 'Daulatmangal', the fort was constructed in 1629 by Murar Jagdev who built the fort to keep a watch on the city. It is also believed to be the place where Goddess Parvati danced for Lord Shiva and from here they went to Kailash and got married. This place is crowded during Mahashivratri.

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Be a part of #Soulie!

A Soul Selfie series or '#Soulie' aiming to meaningfully strengthen my personal connect with my Father, God (you may choose to call Him by any name you like, as long as the reference and more importantly, the essence is retained) by peeping within my own heart — collecting your prayers and feelings too as you discover the world – and jotting them down on paper. It’s a spiritual exploration of that which is Unseen and a celebration of that Ultimate sacred space we yearn for - within and without - and the riches we carry in our own hearts. Do take part and share with My Yatra Diary... a piece of your heart.

Here are things you can do if you want to join in.

1. Send me one picture clicked by you and a few lines by your heart on how that captured moment makes you relate with that Someone Higher in your life in a more meaningful and healthy way.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Soulie Saturday #5: She Flows (Sunset Over The Rameshwaram Sea)

Look at her -- unafraid
dons the color of the sky
blue, green, yellow - it's a color, a dye.

In the washing machine of time
twisting and turning - she flows
waves -- gentle, roaring -
ebbing and low.

From where she comes
where she goes
what mysteries lie beyond her veil
no one knows

Except that --

with goodness on her mind
love in her heart
unafraid of the colors donned

she flows.

Like a precious jewel
polished by her father
she glows.

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Captured this scene while taking a boat ride during sunset in Rameshwaram. Away from the chaotic hustle bustle one comes across as part of a pilgrim place that is hugely frequented by the believers - this sunset boat ride offered a tranquil respite with the ever so elegant nature.

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Be a part of #Soulie!

A Soul Selfie series or “#Soulie” series aiming to meaningfully strengthen my personal connect with my Father, God (you can choose to call Him by any name you like as long as the reference is maintained and more importantly the essence) by peeping within my own heart — collecting your prayers and feelings too as you discover the world – and jotting them down on paper. It’s a spiritual exploration of that which is Unseen and a celebration of that Ultimate sacred space we yearn for - within and without - and the riches we carry in our own hearts.

Here is what you can do if you wish to join in.

1. Send me one picture clicked by you and a few lines by your heart on how that moment makes you relate with that Someone Higher in your life in a more meaningful and healthy way.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Soulie Saturday #4: Sunset with Mother Ganga, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh.

There was still some time for the evening arti to begin; I sat on the ghats of Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh as close to her waters as I could. The atmosphere was abuzz with activity and one could hear incomprehensible murmurs all around. I focused my attention on the soft gurgling sound sound of River Ganga instead...

Serene and calm, ah ...

Mother Ganga suring sunset Arti, Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

Ganga Maiyya!
She looked beautiful.

Gushes of wind danced and swirled around her, making her look even more ethereal and other worldly. I simply sat in awe; letting my hand in, into her icy cold waters and felt like a child being taken into her mother’s arms to be held gently against her breasts.

As the last rays of the sun fell on her, illuminating through the mountains, I closed my eyes and prayed for her loving benediction and inner strength and power. Those moments, with Mother… they were assuring, her gaze which constantly told me that Lord Shiva was guiding over me in all my trials and tribulations so there wasn’t any room for worry.

As the sun’s light dimmed with each passing moment and the intensity of the night increased, I was overwhelmed with a profusion of balming serenity and a comforting guidance never experienced before. Even the setting sun became the veil, the aanchal, which she was drawing over all of her children present there, including me, to shield us from the noisy and frightening world outside.

In her arms, I felt safe.

I felt one with Mother, my own nature.

My reverie was soon broken by the loud sound of the bells, the arti had just begun… my heart was flooded in tears of joy and happiness.

Today, I salute and pay my respects to her in spirit, for I know I may be miles apart in Mumbai, but I always have a mighty divine force of Mother to protect me no matter where I am.

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This post is inspired by the highly talented travel blogger and photographer desi Traveler’s series on Mothers day titled #MerePaasMaanHai (मेरे पास माँ है) celebrating and honoring the unique essence of a mother-daughter bond. Do check his Instagram account to know more.

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Be a part of #Soulie!

A Soul Selfie series or “#Soulie” series aiming to meaningfully strengthen my personal connect with my Father, God (call Him by any name you like)  by peeping within my own heart —  collecting your experiences and feelings too as you discover the world – and jotting them down on paper. It’s a experiential and spiritual exploration of that which is Unseen and a celebration of that Ultimate sacred space we yearn for - within and without - and the riches we carry in our own hearts.

Here is what you can do if you want to join in.

Send me / blog about / instagram one picture clicked by you and a few lines by your heart on how that moment makes you relate with that Someone Higher in your life in a more meaningful and healthy way.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rooted in Simplicity: Shree Kasba Ganpati Temple, Pune's Gram Daivait.

A window near Kasba Ganpati Temple, Pune
Kasba Peth, Pune
Old parts in a city resonate with their own unique charm of an era gone by. Etched on them are marvels – not always and often less than what some of us might generally consider perfect and faultless but almost always warm, devoid-of-any-pretence and shining in its own beauty of unconscious simplicity – that give us a sneak peek into the way of life and living of our forefathers and ancestors who have walked the earth.

One finds such a charm in Pune disguised as peths and wadas – there are about 17 of them (Sadashiv Peth, Narayan Peth, Rasta Peth, Nana Pet, Navi Peth, Ganj Peth (now renamed Mahatma Phule Peth), Budhvar peth, Somwar peth, etc.) all built and developed during the Maratha rule under the Peshwa administration. These peths are some of the oldest inhabited places of the city which still regale visitors with its narrow lanes and dilapidated structures painting a vintage picture of antiquity and a firm rootedness to traditions and culture.

Entrance to Kasba Ganpati Temple in Pune
Pune's Gram Davait - Shree Kasba Ganpati Mandir Devsthan in Pune.
I have been to a few peths in the past but my visit to Kasba Peth this time was the first. Kasba Peth is the oldest residential peth in Pune established during the fifth century. Located beside the Shaniwar Wada palace-fort, Kasba Peth is also referred as the 'Heart of Pune City'. Not only because of its location but metaphorically speaking too – Kasba Peth houses Kasba Ganpati, Pune's Gram Davait or the presiding deity Ganesha who looks after the well being of the people of Pune.

Famous Ganesha Temple Kasba Ganpati, Pune
Kasba Ganpati Temple from the outside.
One look at the Kasba Ganpati temple and I stood mesmerised by its natural appeal - its stark minimalism devoid of any lavish adornment - outdoor as well as interiors - and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the simple straightforward nature of the people of those times, including the valiant, strong and heroic Jijamata who is credited with establishing the temple. Built in the typical Puneri Wada style, entering the temple felt very human as if it were the house of a friend - so earthy and in tune with nature was its appeal!

Kasba Ganesh Mandir in Pune
Remove your footwear and step in!
The temple hall was small in size and pictures of all Ashtavinayaka Ganesha's adorned the sides of the wall. Colourful lanterns hung from the ceiling while festive lights dangle criss-crossly through the arches. The vibe was calm, intimate and peaceful making it easier to have a conversation with Him, to seek clarity, to reflect in the solitude minus the outside chaos or the lure of things and possessions (wi-fi!) or to simply find assurance in His comforting gaze.

Premises of Kasba Ganpati Temple in Pune
Photo's of syambhu Ashta vinayak's in Pune.
Kasba Ganpati Temple room, Pune
Lord Ganesha, in solid silver, sits regally in the sanctum...

The story of the establishment dates back to as far as the 16th century when the Maratha queen Jijabai Bhosale had just arrived in Pune with her 12 year old son Shivaji. A young, energetic Shivaji was determined to fight against the Mughal empire and set the Maratha kingdom on a path of freedom and glory. During those times, an idol of Lord Ganesha was found by some boys residing nearby. Queen Jijabai started worshipping this Ganesha which prompted Dadaji Konddeo (a nobleman who oversaw the training of young Shivaji) to build a temple, which is today known as the famous Shri Kasba Ganpati Mandir in Kasba Peth.

Courtyard of Kasba Ganpati Temple in Pune
In the courtyard...
Since then, Pune has seen an unprecedented growth in its character.  No wonder then, it is also called the city of Lord Ganesh and the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great aplomb and fervour, a tradition initiated by Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak in 1893 with an aim of bringing people together during the freedom struggle.

Image of Ganesha at Kasba Ganpati Mandir, Pune

When a conflict arose between the different Ganesha mandals as to which mandal shall lead the Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion) process, Lokmanya Tilak solved it by according the premier status among all Ganeshas to Kasba Ganpati in the ten day long Ganeshotsav or Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

How dear is Kasba Ganpati to Punekars or the people of Pune can be gauged from the fact that Kasba Ganpati is 'Manacha Pahila Ganpati' (Honoured as the leader) among all other Ganesha's in the city. And why only Punekars? One visit to Kasba Ganpati left me spellbound by its sheer perfection - beautiful in its flawless simplicity and mystery; steeped in history and tradition - reminding me that in a world obsessed with fleeting trends and pursuit of perfection... true style and classic elegance still lay in rooting ourselves to simplicity... in getting back to our basic nature of sincerity so that from it could grow the tree of value and significance.

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What are the timings of Kasba Ganpati?

6 AM - 10.30 PM

How to reach Kasba Ganpati?

Google address is 158, Kasba Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411011. But ask anyone, really!

Phone Number: 09881907150

Best time to visit? Kasba Ganpati is during the 10 day Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. Celebrations are purely traditional and one of it's kind.

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Previous post from Pune-Pandharpur yatra diary:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Soulie Saturday #3: With Every Breath I Take (Dwarka beach).

Dwarka beach and the Dwarka temple

With very breath I take
a new bond we make
ripples of sadness, disappointment washed away
waves of hope, trust and devotion
create a better, brighter day.

With very breath I take
a cake of freedom I bake
life can toss me – scatter or sweep
that me is not for mine to keep

No matter what season or reason
I trust your sight and vision
for in it,
I see my own reflection
pristine and pure
sacred and deep.

With every breath I take,
I see a dream wide and awake.
there is a land afar
calling out my name
there happiness is for real,
laughter is a door ajar.

It’s the call of the heart
A journey into the unknown,
I must now depart
for my own survival sake.

With every breath I take,
I ask for your loving hand
come with me and hold me close
in your light
I now finally see ~
A forgotten me
And my long lost friend.

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Captured this while wandering aimlessly around the Dwarka beach. Though Dwarka is a major place of pilgrimage and remains crowded most of the year, you can find many quiet spots for yourself all around the area. The best thing about this particular area was not only its solitude and quiet but the intricate tapestry in nature ... that trail of light (see it?) leading right up to the temple standing majestically in the distance and as if the beaming waves were dancing in delight!

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Be a part of #Soulie!

A Soul Selfie series or '#Soulie' aiming to meaningfully strengthen my personal connect with my Father, God (you may choose to call Him by any name you like, as long as the reference and more importantly, the essence is retained) by peeping within my own heart — collecting your prayers and feelings too as you discover the world – and jotting them down on paper. It’s a spiritual exploration of that which is Unseen and a celebration of that Ultimate sacred space we yearn for - within and without - and the riches we carry in our own hearts. Do take part and share with My Yatra Diary... a piece of your heart.

Here are things you can do if you want to join in.

1. Send me one picture clicked by you and a few lines by your heart on how that captured moment makes you relate with that Someone Higher in your life in a more meaningful and healthy way.

2. Follow along with the hashtag #soulie on Instagram.

3. Key in your suggestions if you have any and share the idea in any way you like!