Mahalakshmi Temple, Mumbai: Visiting the Goddess of Wealth During Diwali.


Lotus flowers on sale Mahalakshmi Temple, Mumbai

The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart.

— Judy Garland.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Places make cities. Also, people.

Places and people make cities.

For without them, what would a city be… just an epic mass of concrete and rubble beneath the same ever expanding sky above and the same earth to walk below?

And that is how and why; cities get a unique identity, an individualized character, by the people and the places it houses. Places that have been standing for years, often going on to become legends, icons in their own right… celebrated through the many diverse people that have graced them by their presence and in turn have been touched by its many legends and stories.

One such place that lends a unique character to the city of dreams, Mumbai is the famous Mahalakshmi Temple – a temple that is dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth, Mahalakshmi, and also a temple that I have visited numerous times, often as a kid. I remember, whenever we, as a family, set out to explore Mumbai, we started our journey from this temple and then went on to visit the other sacred places of worship in the vicinity viz. Sadhubela, Rani Sati Dadi Temple and the mosque Haji Ali.

Even though growing up, life is busier, and our customary visits as a family to this circuit have greatly lessened, whenever I have an opportunity, I make it a point to visit the Mahalakshmi Temple along the same route.

What I have realized is that with every visit, I have been able to appreciate the temple a notch better, by learning something new and seeing it with newer eyes.

I visited the temple again, very recently, just a couple of days before the festive season of Diwali kicked in and this time I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it because one - this was the first time I was called by The Goddess of Wealth just before the festival of Diwali was to begin and two - because, this time I also intended to share my journey to this most beautiful, historic, vibrant and busy temple of Mumbai with YOU!

So, let’s do this yatra together, shall we?!

The Mahalakshmi Temple Circuit:


There are many gates, basically lanes, leading to the Mahalakshmi Temple.

Among them, enter through the Dhakleshwar Shiva temple gate. Why?


For --

Kabutarkhana Mahalakshmi Temple premises Mumbai
The joy of feeding the pigeons.

To the left of the gate, just after one enters is a small section called kabutarkana (Pigeon house) where one can see people of all age groups lovingly scatter grains for the pigeons who arrive in hordes to peck on their food. A ‘chanawala’ (grain seller) can be found sitting in the corner selling pigeon feed at reasonable prices.

Diagonally opposite the kabutar khana is the Trymbakeshwar Mahadeo Temple forming the trio of Shiva temples along with Dhakleshwar Mahadeo and Siddheshwar Mahadeo temples managed by the same trust.

Shree Trymbakeshwar Mahadeo Temple, Mahalakshmi Temple Premises
Spire of Tryambakeshwar Mahadeo Temple.
Shree Dhakleshwar Temple, Mahalakshmi Mandir lane Mumbai
Entrance to the Dhakleshwar Temple.
Constructed in white sangamramar marble; the temple houses deities of Lord Ram, Lord Hanuman, Ambe Maa, Vithal Rakhumai and Lord Shiva along with a huge peepal tree in its confines.

Walking further but before entering into the heritage precincts of the Mahalakshmi Temple complex, climb up a few steps and spot the historic blink-and-you-miss European arch with an inscription “1905: Prince’s Triumphal Arch” (read my earlier blogpost on the same when I had bumped into this heritage structure accidentally).


Prince's Triumphal Arch

Pale ochre in color, this lesser known arch from the British era is supported by two pairs of ornate Corinthian pillars domed by a beautiful clock at the top. 

A few more steps down the lane comes our next stop in the circuit which is a temple - the beautiful and very peaceful Sadhubela Temple primarily dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Mahalakshmi Temple Sadhubela Mandir, Mumbai
Mahalakshmi Temple BAPS Swaminarayan Temple, Mumbai
Sadhubela Temple dedicated primarily to Lord Krishna.
A little ahead is another peaceful temple, the Rani Sati Dadi Temple which was established in the year 1960 by the merchant Arun Seth Mittal.

Mahalakshmi Temple adjoining Shree Rani Sati Temple, Mumbai

Just opposite the Rani Sati Dadi Temple is the ancient Parmeshwar Mahadeo Shiva Temple.

Mahalakshmi Temple adjoining temple shree Shree Parmeshwar, Mumbai

As you offer your respects at these small, simple, obscured but quiet and ancient temples and move forward - the temple spire of one of the most revered temples of the city comes into view.

Lane meading to the Mahalakshmi Mandir, Mumbai
Way to the Mahalakshmi Temple.
The sight of the Lotus flowers blooming in small water buckets, the smell of sweets wafting on salty sea breezes mingled with the multitude of colors bursting forth from the rows of shops selling religious paraphernalia like garlands of flowers, saris and neiveidya offerings welcome one and all atop a small hillock where the bountiful Mother, Goddess Mahalakshmi resides ringed by the Arabian Sea on three sides.

Mahalakshmi Temple lotus flowers bucket Mumbai
Mother Mahalakshmi's religious paraphernelia on sale, Mumbai
Lotus, Saris and Mangalsutra among the many offerings for the Goddess.
Keep your shoes and chappals in the stand on the right side of the temple and climb a fleet of stairs, pass the security check to step into the open courtyard of the temple.

Mahalakshmi Temple dome, Shree Mahalakshmi Mandir, Mumbai
Can you spot the domed spire of the Mahalakshmi Temple in the background?
A towering silver dhwajasthamb with Ashtalaksmi carvings is the first striking feature of the courtyard. People touch the dhwajasthamba with their palm and pass this positive energy by pressing the palm on their foreheads.

There are separate neatly segregated queues for males and females in order to facilitate a smoother darshan for all.

Built in 1831 by Dhakji Dadaji, a Hindu merchant, the temple attracts atleast half million visitors during the festival of Navratri and remains highly crowded during these times. Fridays and the purnima days (full moon) of every month are more crowded among the rest of the week days.

Mahalakshmi Temple Lotus at the entrance, Mumbai

I feel blessed to be here, just before the festive week of Diwali begins on a lethargic Thursday afternoon. Outside, the sun is clambering high up in the sky hushing the customary hubbub of the sea breeze, inside; there is a charm and elegance in the movement of the devouts eager to get a glimpse of the Mother.

The garbhagriha or the inner santum is radiant in gold. In the center, sit the Trimurti, the three Goddesses namely Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and the Mahalakshmi with Goddess Mahalakshmi, the central deity of Devi Mahatmyam (the Great Mother of the Universe, who ensures creation, preservation and destruction of evil forces in the universe.), in the middle. Bedecked with lotus flowers, ornamented with diamonds and pearls, surrounded by coconuts, bangles and saris offered by the devotees, the Goddess of wealth appears as lovely as the other Goddesses in company. Diagonally opposite the sanctum, sits Her vehicle, majestically, the undisputed king of the jungle, the lion.

All of them wear sharp and striking golden masks making them golden hued, as radiant as gold, and as resplendent as the sun.


Mahalakshmi Temple trinity deities of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali
The Mahalakshmi temple trio of Mahalakshmi
- Goddess of Wealth in the center,
flanked by Mahasaraswati and Mahakali.
(image courtesy: Mahalakshmi-temple.com)

With the masks on, for the entire day (except for a few minutes at nighttime when the temple closes), one can only imagine the face of the naturally occurring deity beneath, which is nothing but an impression on a rock (swayumbhu image of the Goddess) as it occurred many centuries ago.

Each of the Goddess has 2 pairs of hands, both raised in a blessing. I bow my head in front of the altar touching the engraved footprints of the devi with my hands and placing my forehead on it; I can’t help but feel the immense supremacy of all the feminine forces combined.

The Goddess of wealth, Mahalakshmi (together with the Goddess of learning, MahaSaraswati and the Goddess of Death Mahakali) commands power. And authority.

There is lot of stake that rests on her shoulders, there is little to be done without her.

Of course then, She is one Goddess who invited by one and all. Such is her magnetism! Everywhere she goes, she is welcomed with open arms.

Like any true benevolent benign Goddess, she visits as invoked but like any real Mother, she leaves when and if she finds her children looking only to use her and not valuing her for who she really is.

No wonder then, this Goddess is the patron deity for a flourishing commercial city like Mumbai where a million dreams are hinged on hopes… hopes that are nurtured in efforts… efforts that don’t differentiate between the demands of night or day.

Mahalakshmi Temple as seen from Haji Ali Dargah Mumbai
The scenic view of Mahalakshmi Mandir as seen from Haji Ali Mosque.
Interestingly, the story of the deity has its roots in a dream as well.

It all began with the decision to construct Hornby Vellard, a sea wall or embankment connecting all the seven islands of Mumbai. As the engineers tried to build the causeway between Worli and Malabar Hill (today, breach candy), the embankment kept on collapsing much to everyone’s dismay. No matter how much efforts were put in, the sea simply rejected it all.

It was then, that a miraculous thing happened. The chief contracter Ramji Shivji, of the Pathare Prabhu caste saw an unusual dream. Goddess Lakshmi herself visited him and instructed him that if they really wished to proceed with the construction, they should first recover the idols of the Goddesses from the sea near Worli. Ramji Shivi acted as directed and found all the idols at the same site. A temple was built by the sea, in honor of the Goddesses and Hornby Vellard was completed successfully.

Mahalakshmi Temple Ganpati Temples Mumbai
Temples of Ganeshji and Hanumanji
while descending the flight of stairs downwards.
At the backside of the temple, as you wind a few steps down the circumambulation path, is the verandah facing the Arabian Sea.

There is a barred fencing all around to prevent access to the sea promenade but it’s here, at the platform, that one can truly feel all the dots connecting, all the stories jumping out from the pages of history.

Worli Seaface promenade Mahalakshmi Mandir Mumbai
The frothy, foaming Arabian Sea at the backside of the Mahalakshmi Temple.

One glance at the view of the city running in a long and gentle curve along the sea shore and one can’t help but appreciate the sky kissing towers and highrises in the distance. Home to a billion minds aglow with a trillion plans – the guzzling roaring sea embraces them all.

But what if there is more, more to this glitzy city of dreams, more to this raging visage - more than the eyes can see? Beneath the shore kissing waves, what if there is indeed a different world? – a world of forgotten dreams, lost voices, misplaced wishes hiding away in her depths waiting to be discovered and unravelled?

As I complete my circumambulation and make my way out of the temple, the noisy roars of the sea have died away, only the whisperings from my contemplation trickle down into my heart.

Tips and other information for pilgrims planning a visit to the Mahalakshmi Temple:

What are the Temple Timings of the Mahalakshmi Mandir?

The temple opens at 6.00 a.m. and closes at 10.00 PM.

There is no entry fee and people from all faiths are welcome. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.

What are the Arti / Pooja Timings of the Mahalakshmi Temple?

Morning Arti is held at 7 AM
Evening Dhoop Arti is at 6.30 PM to 6.40 PM (timings vary according to the Sunset)
Shejarti is at 10.00 PM at the time of closure.
Daily Naivedya  is at 12:00 in the afternoon when the Goddesses have their lunch and the darshan is closed for a few minutes.

The temple tends to get more crowded during arti timings and naivedya offerings as the queue is halted for darshan for those durations.

If you have time in your hands, I would suggest attending the morning arti - though crowded, it's a divine experience.

When is the Mahalakshmi Temple crowded / What are the Festivals celebrated in the Mahalakshmi Mandir in Mumbai?

Navratri is a major festival associated with the temple. Both the Navratris - Chaitra (March-April) Ashwin (September-October) is celebrated with great fervour and gusto.

The temple witnesses thousands of visitors during the 4 festival days of Diwali especially peaking on the main Lakshmi Pujan day.

On Karthik Purnima, there is a special offering of Annakut where devotees prepare a large variety of sweets and savories to offer to the Goddess in a humble gesture of gratitude.

The auspicious month of Margashish dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi witnesses a large number of devotees thronging the temple to receive the Goddesses blessings.

The dhwajasthamba day is when the palkhi of the Goddess is carried out for a procession and it falls on the 17th of June every year.

There are good arrangements inside the temple on the days when the temple is crowded and the security is highly vigilant and alert.

How to reach the Mahalakshmi Temple / Which is the nearest railway station to the Mahalakshmi Temple?

The nearest station to the Mahalakshmi Temple is Mahalakshmi on the western line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. Once you alight on the western side, catch the BEST bus number 77 if you want to travel in the cheapest mode of transport. Alternatively, take a shared taxi from the same place or catch a solo taxi (Rs. 35 approximately). It takes around 15 minutes to reach the temple from the station.

Address: Shree Mahalakshmi Temple Charities, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai - 400026.
Telephone Number: 022-23514732.

Loved reading this post?
PIN IT!

Mahalakshmi Temple, Mumbai

Comments

  1. It was not so long ago that we watched a tv documentary about this very thing. A documentary that left me with some questions which you have managed to answer today. Thank you for yet another interesting, informative and colourful post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Arti, Great to read about Mahalakshmi Temple. Beautiful photos.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would love to constantly get updated outstanding blog!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks!! Its feel like really blessed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very well written post 👍 Arti. I too have visited this temple several times since my childhood. Through your post, it was interesting to know about the history of this temple and details on various small temples in the temple premises.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Delighted you 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 :)