Bāla Digambar Gaṇapati (Kadav, Karjat)

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Location: 80kms from Mumbai (map).

 Timings: All day.

Khetra Purāam: This Gaṇapati mūrti was consecrated by the great sage Kaṇva maharhi, the father of Śakuntala. Hence is a very ancient temple.

About the Temple: The temple is located in a small village and the surroundings are very peaceful. The temple also has an old Śiva linga. This temple is one of the famous Ganesh temples of Maharashtra.

 

Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir

Jivdani2-Amazing MaharashtraLocation:  80kms from Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day.

Khetra Purāam: Once Pāndavas, during tīrtha yātra, came to the banks of vaitariṇī river, which even today flows near this sacred place. On the banks of this river and near Tungareśvar hill, they worshipped Ekavīra Devī. (This ancient temple of Ekavīra Devī was destroyed by Moghuls and Portugese and now one can only see remains of this destruction). Inspired by the Devī, they then worshipped Her in the mountain caves near by in the form of invisible Goddess by the name Jīvadhani Mātā. Even today, one can see a small passage just beside the newly consecrated idol, where the Goddess resides in invisible form.

Till the advent of kaliyuga and Buddhism, this sacred place was visited by many yogīs and thereafter was forgotten. Infact, many ancient temples and caves around vasai were destroyed by the portugese (see this). To a large extent, the Śankarcharyas of Pū have played a key role in reversing the damage done by Buddhists as well as Portugese to this place.

Not surprisingly, Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir was re-discovered because of the 7th Śankarcharya of Pū, Śrī Svāmī Padmanābha Tīrtha. The story goes as follows. Once when Śankarcharya visited this place, a mahar came to Him and expressed his desire to have darshan of invisible Jīvdāni Mātā, who is his kuladevī. Śankarcharya blessed him and asked him to do go-seva on the Jīvdāni Hill. The mahar followed His instructions very carefully and ultimately indeed got darshan of the Devī . When Devī appeared before him, he with his conversation impresses the Devī. Devī then asks him how he being a mahar has such great knowledge of Vara-āśrama-dharmas. The mahar, with humility, says it is all the blessings of Śankarcharya. Devī impressed by mahar, says: “with the puya of serving this cow, who is none other than kāmadhenu, you can cross this un-crossable vaitariṇī and attain Mokha“. This amazing story throws light on how true followers of Hinduism and Guru’s of Hinduism like Śankarcharya did not discriminate mahars and infact helped them attain Mokha itself! On contrary, it is unfortunate that modern activists consider mahars to be of low-caste and victims of social injustice.

This entire episode of mahar getting Mokha was witnessed by a barren woman. Impressed by the woman’s stotrams, the Devī blessed her with a child. The barren woman replied saying, she would be happier if the Goddess blessed all barren woman rather than her alone! The Devi then gave a boon that any barren woman who offers beetle nut near my cave will be blessed with children. Thus the ancient cave and the Goddess once again became famous due to Gurus like Śankarcharya and great bhaktas like the mahar and the barren woman.

About the Temple: The temple and idol that exist now are recent constructions. The cave temple itself is on a hill and one needs to ascend around 1700 steps to reach the temple. There is rope-way facility intended for elderly people. For young people, the waiting time for rope-way will be more than hill-climbing time. The present cave temple is beautiful with idols of Devi and Shri Krishna in marble. The small passage, where the devi resides in invisible form, can also be seen near the main temple. The temple is visited by a large number of locals and pilgrims from near-by villages. On holidays and holy days, there will be long queues for seeing the Goddess. From the temple, the view of vasai is very beautiful.

Near-by temples: Agashi Bhavani Shankar, Tungareśvar, Chakreśvar, Chaṇḍikā Devi.

Bhānḍupeśvar Mahādev Mandir (Bhandup, Mumbai)

Location: Near Bhandup (West) Station, Mumbai (map).

 Timings: All Day.

About the Temple: This is a very ancient temple of Lord Śiva, from times unknown. The area derived its name as Bhandup from the name of this God. The temple is very beautiful with high Gopurams. Surrounding the main temple there are smaller temples of: Śītalā Devi, Santoshi Mātā, Hanumān, Navagrahās, Mahākālī, Mahāsarasvatī, Mahālakṣhmī, Vagheśvarī Devi, Gāyatrī Devi, Rāma Parivār. Thanks to the efforts of the management, this temple is maintained very well and is very neat. One experiences great solitude and peace in this temple though its surroundings are extremely busy with the near-by railway station. The puṣhkariṇī of the Lord, known as Bhānḍupeśvar Kuṇḍ is at a distance of around 1.5kms from the temple.  This suggests that perhaps in the ancient times, a large surrounding area belonged to the temple.

Albela Hanumān Mandir (Wadala, Mumbai)

Location: Wadala area, Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day (except afternoon).

About the Temple: The idol of Hanumān here is svayambhū. There is a very interesting story of how this idol was consecrated here. Long time ago, a king found this idol in the near-by area, which was then a forest. When he was bringing it, the idol of Lord Hanumān did not move an inch from the place where the temple is currently situated. The king was not able to move it in-spite of repeated efforts. Then he realized that it is the wish of the Lord to stay in this sacred place and then constructed a temple for the Lord. Since Lord Hanumān acted as per His will and chose not to move from this place, He was named as Albela Hanumān. The present temple priests have been worshiping this idol since atleast 150 years and they reported that the actual period of temple construction is unknown and the idol is from ancient times. The idol of Lord Hanumān has a large base and has idols of other devatās including Lord Gaṇeśa. The idol is completely covered with sindhūr, while the Lord’s mouth portion appears black and has a mustache.

Svayambhū Ganeśa Temple (Borivali, Mumbai)

Location: In Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day.

About the Temple: Though the temple is relatively new, the idol here is svayambhū. Historians believe that the idol is around 5000 years old. There is an interesting story about the discovery of this ancient idol.

Earlier this place was a hilly area. Contractors blasted rocks and supplied it to the construction sites in nearby areas. One day a worker was digging a huge rock to plant a rock detonator. At noon after having his lunch he decided to take a short nap. In his nap, he dreamed of “Śrī” (lord Ganeśa) asking him not to break the rock as his divine self would be emerging there. The worker narrated this experience to his colleagues. Everyone decided to stop the work of blasting the rocks. Next day they discovered the idol on the rocks. The rock on which Lord appeared itself resembles an elephant and the idol is located near the eye position. The localities later built the temple. The priests beautifully decorate the rock and idol everyday.

Temple Website: link.

Prabhāvatī Devī Mandir (Prabhadevi, Mumbai)

  Location: In prabhavati area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: All day.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: The idol of the main deity, Prabhāvatī Devī, belongs to the 12th century. At that time, the Goddess was known as Śākambarī Devi and was the kuldevta of the Yādava king Bimba rāja of Gujarat. Unfortunately, due to the attacks of the Mughals, the Goddess was shifted to Karnataka. Later on, it was shifted to Mahim creek and subsequently, put in a well that used to exist opposite the present temple. Perhaps the people of Mumbai were fortunate, the following miracle happened in the 18th century.

Goddess Śākambarī Devi appeared as Prabhāvatī Devī in the dream of Shyam Nayak, a rich Pathare Prabhu. He then retrieved the idol from the well and constructed the temple in 1715. It is this ancient idol one can have darśan of in this temple.

  About the Temple: The garbhālayam has idols of three Goddesses Prabhāvatī Devī, Chanḍikā Devi (right) and Kālikā Devi (left). To the right of Chanḍikā Devi, there is an ancient Śiva lingam. The Goddess has four arms with Padmam, Japamālā, varada, abhaya hastams. There are other small temples of: Lakṣhmī Nārāyaṇa, Śiva, Hanumān, Śītalā Devi and Khokalā Devi. Every year in the Puṣhya month, a ten day Jātra is held, beginning on the full moon day (Śākambarī Pourṇima). The locality is now known by the Goddesses name as Prabhadevi.

Mahālakṣhmī Temple (Mahalakshmi, Mumbai)

  Location: Mahalakshmi area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: 6am-10pm.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: The story of this temple is connected to the Hornby Vellard project, where the goal was to block the Worli creek and prevent the low-lying areas of Mumbai from being flooded at high tide. However inspite of multiple attempts, many portions of the sea wall collapsed. Then one night, Goddess Mahālakṣhmī appeared in the dream of the chief engineer, Śri Rāmjī Śivjī, and instructed him to find three idols of Mahālakṣhmī, Mahākālī, Mahāsarasvatī lying in the seabed and build a temple for them. She gave a boon that the sea-walls will then not collapse. Śri Rāmjī Śivjī did as instructed by the Goddess and built the present temple, in around the year 1785. One can now have darśan of the three swayambhū idols of the Goddesses. Needless to say, the sea-wall never collapsed subsequently.

  About the Temple: The idols of the Goddesses are covered with beautiful golden masks. However, one can have darśan of the swayambhū idols either in the morning during abhiṣhekam at 6am or at around 9:30pm in the night. The swayambhū idols are covered with sindhūr, as is common in Maharashtra. One has to ascend around 25 steps to reach the temple. The temple is located on the banks of the Arabian sea. One can even reach the sea by descending around 50 steps from the back of the temple. This place is very beautiful especially during sunrise and sunset. There small temples of Gaṇeśa and Hanumān near this sea-side area of the temple.

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