God is in the details

Aug 02, 2012, 09:19 IST | The Guide Team

As the auspicious month of Shravan, considered the holiest in the Hindu calendar, begins, devotees get into religious mode, and embark on pilgrimages. As one gears for this holy sojourn, The Guide has listed some of Maharashtra's most holiest destinations, to help make easier the journey in quest of higher ground

Nashik, the historic city where Ram spent some years of his exile, is an abode of temples. It lies on the banks of the Godavari River and is one of the four sites in India where the Kumbha Mela takes place. Trimbakeshwar, nearby, which is the source of the Godavari is a spot where one of the twelve Jyotirlingas is located. The Tri-Sandhya Gayatri here is believed to be the birthplace of Ganesha. Approximately 90 kms from Nashik is Shirdi, where a temple to saint Sai Baba is situated. The saint who lived and breathed his last here, is revered by devotees who throng the town from across India and the globe. The saint’s powers are believed to grant any wish.

Distance from Mumbai 170 kms (approximately)
How to reach  Nashik is well connected to Mumbai by road and rail (Nashik Road Station). It’s best to hire a private vehicle to reach Shirdi and Trimbakeshwar, using Nashik as a base for accommodation. Day trips to both sites are advised due to long distances involved.

Take a detour to Ramtek (Nagpur-Ramtek 57 km), if you are in the mood for a divine escape. Legend has it that sage Agastya, believed to be the first Aryan to have crossed the Vindhyas, made it his meditative abode. A potpourri of architectural styles, ranging from Chalukyan, Islamic and Gujarati, the temples offer a panoramic view of the town below and beyond. It's masala tourism in all its glory — crowds, food stalls, bangle sellers, technicoloured cold drinks, temple bells. Monkeys thrive in the area so don’t be alarmed if you discover another passenger in your vehicle, in case you forget to wind up the windows of your parked vehicle before heading into the premise.

Distance from Mumbai 887 kms (approximately)
How to reach  Most central and east India bound trains pass Nagpur station. Alight here and hail a cab/van/ tourist bus to reach Ramtek. It’s 57 kms from the main city. Keep a day for this trip, using Nagpur as the base for accommodation. The drive can be done via NH6 or NH 3

Pandharpur is counted among one of the most important pilgrimage centres of Maharashtra. The temple, which houses Vitthal or Vithoba, (an incarnation of Lord Krishna) attracts pilgrims from across India, who undertake long, arduous journeys for a glimpse of the deity. This pilgrimage centre is located on the banks of the Bhima River in Solapur district. The temple covers a vast area and has six gates. The eastern entrance is called the Namdev Gate. It is believed that the worship of Vitthal in this temple is based on the contents of the Puranas (religious texts of the Hindus). Many religious saints including Namdev, Tukaram, Eknath, Dyaneshwar and many more have sung the praises of Lord Vitthal. There are inscriptions in the temple dating back to the 13th century.

Distance from Mumbai 350 kms (approximately)
How to reach Take a train from Mumbai to Solapur. From Solapur station, Pandharpur is about 70 km away; taxis are available. There is also a direct train from Mumbai to Pandharpur. By road, it would take close to six hours to reach Pandharpur. There are buses that go to Solapur and Pandharpur as well.

Lakhs of devotees come to Pandharpur for darshan of Vitthal. It is said that he starts his four-month long resting period from Ashadi Ekadashi. On Ashadi Ekadashi, devotees begin to line-up outside the temple from midnight onwards.

Wai, is also popularly known as Dakshin Kashi (town of temples) as it houses many temples, making it a popular religious place of worship. It is located in Satara district on the banks of the Krishna River and the Dholya Ganapati temple is one the most popular places of worship. Legend has it that Afzal Khan camped here and the locals of Wai provided him residence. Wai has a large number of temples including Kamteshwar Temple, Chakreshwar Temple, Kaleshwar Temple, Rameshwar Temple, Chilavali Devi Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Vitthal Temple, Ganapati Temple, Shiva Temple, Bahiroba Temple, Dattatreya Temple and Kashi Vishweshwar Temple. It is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains and there are seven ghats on the banks of the river. It is a scenic location, and the ancient fort Pandavgad is a major attraction for trekkers. Many films including Gangajal, Omkara, Dabbang, Swadesh, Ishqiya and Singham have been shot here.

Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Distance from Mumbai 230 kms (approximately)
How to reach Wai is en route to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. A drive to Wai would take about 3.5 to 4 hours. You can also board a bus to Wai. 

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