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.

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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.

Śrī Devī Padmāvatī Temple (IIT-Powai, Mumbai)

  Location: Inside the IIT Campus in Powai, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: 6am-12pm and 4pm-9pm.

About the Temple: This is an ancient temple dating back to around 10th century, according to śilāśasanās (stone inscriptions) retrieved from the near-by Powai lake. The main deity of the temple was Lord Śiva, in the name of Nagajeśvara Svāmi (Lord of daughter of Himalayas). The temple was later maintained by Simhappa, a mahāsāmant under the Silhara kings. An agricultural land (the present IIT campus) was also donated by him to the Temple. Chattrapati Śivāji, later installed Goddess Padmāvatī‘s idol and from then the temple became famous after Her name. Padmāvatī Devi, though an incarnation of Goddess Lakṣhmī, has many striking resemblances with Mumbādevi: Devi does not have a mouth and the idol is covered with sindhūr. Also, the Devi’s chālīsa mentions Her name as Pavaīsvarī, based on which the locality is known as Powai. Perhaps this shows that Mātā Śakti is the same whether called as Pārvatī or Lakṣhmī or Sarasvatī. Currently, inside the temple premises there are three temples: Padmāvatī Devi, Nagajeśvara Svāmi and a new temple of Lord Ganeśa.

Links: Temple website.

Mumbādevī Temple (Bhuleshwar, Mumbai)

  Location: In Bhuleshwar area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: Though open all day, since the place is a marketplace and is extremely crowded, it is advisable to visit in early morning or on Sunday. Also you might want to visit the temple during special arti at ~7:30am, ~7:30pm.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: Once upon a time, a rākhasa by name Mumbarāka lived in this area. He was very cruel and used to terrorize the locals. Not able to tolerate, the locals pleaded Lord Brahma to save them from the rākhasa. The Lord then created the eight-armed Mumbādevī from His body to slay the daemon. Mumbādevī  then vanquished the rākhasa and saved the locality. From then Mumbādevī was worshiped by the locals and is considered as their grāma-devata.

  About the Temple: The ancient temple was originally located at the present Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The Britishers demolished the temple around the 1730s and built a railway station there in the name of Queen Victoria. Because of this, unfortunately, Mumbādevī was moved to an Annapūrna devi temple located at the current Mumbādevī temple location in Bhuleshwar. Currently, the temple has both the idols of Mumbādevī  and Annapūrna devi. The idol of Mumbādevī, covered in sindhūr, dressed in a beautiful robe, with the distinctive nose-ring (a mango shaped one called ‘nath’ worn by Maharashtrian women), a silver crown and a golden necklace is the one which draws everybody’s attention. Interestingly, the Goddess does not have a mouth, representing her tolerance and being a form of Bhūdevi. There are idols of other Gods like Ganeśa, Hanumān and Lord Indra in the temple premises. Because Mumbādevī  is the grāma-devata and is the protector of the area, this place is called as Mumbai.

Bābulnāth Mandir (Malabar Hill, Mumbai)

  Location: Near Chowpati beach, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: All day.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: Around two hundred years ago there lived a rich and modest goldsmith by name Pāṇḍurang, who owned the portion of the Malabar hill on which the temple is now located. For Indians of ancient and medieval ages, cows were very sacred and every gṛuhastha used to have a cow. Pāṇḍurang, being rich, had many cows and employed a bābul (care-taker) for them. Bābul used to take the cows for grazing to the very location of the current temple. While this was the routine, once Pāṇḍurang observed that one of the Kapila cows (brown-coloured) was not giving milk. On inquiring, Bābul said that since few days, the Kapila cow stops at a particular place on the hill while grazing and by itself delivers milk. Thus by end of day no milk was left with her. Surprised by Bābul‘s words, Pāṇḍurang inspected the Kapila cow’s changed routine himself. He was awe-struck to see the cow delivering milk by itself. On a little excavation, a Śiva lingam was found at this very place. This is the swayambhū lingam which is now worshipped as Bābulnāth.

  About the Temple: This majestic and spacious temple structure was built by Pāṇḍurang in 1780. There are beautiful idols of Lord Śiva and other deities on the temple walls. The most attractive is that of Śivaparivār, where Lord Śiva appears as a vṛuddha (old man), depicting that He is ancient (He is a sanātana). There are small temples of Ganeśa and Hanumān in the temple premises. One has to climb around 100 steps in order to reach the main temple. An elevator arrangement is made for the elderly pilgrims. The temple is very famous and is visited by many all throughout the year. There is extremely huge rush on the day of Mahāśivarātri.

Links: Temple website.

Wālkeśwar Mandir (Malabar Hill, Mumbai)

  Location: On Malabar hill, Mumbai; near Banganga tank (map).

  Timings: All day.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: Once, during araṇyavāsam, Lord Rāma visited this place and wanted to worship His iṣhṭa-daivam, Lord Śiva. He then made a saikata-lingam (made of sand) and performed pūjā of it. It is this ancient lingam of which one can now have darsan of in this holy place. Also, Lord Rāma, shot an arrow into the ground bringing out the ganga and performed Śiva abhiṣhekam with this ganga. This water currently exists as the ganga tank.

  About the Temple: A temple structure and the near-by Banganga tank were constructed in 1127 AD by Lakshman Prabhu, a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin minister in the court of the Silhara Kings. This temple was destroyed by the Portuguese during their reign over Mumbai in the 16th century. It was rebuilt due to the generosity of Mumbai businessman and philanthropist, Rama Kamath, a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin in 1715. The Śiva lingam here is of an extraordinary shape: it resembles an ant-hill and hence the name Wālkeśwar. There are many temples near-by, located around the Banganga tank: Rāmeśwar, Paraśurama, Hanumān, Bālāji, Muralidhar Krishna, Bhadra Kāli and few other Śiva temples. The Venkateshwar Balaji Mandir is a Peshwa era temple with a wooden canopy, dating from 1789. A Kāśī matt and Śrī Kaivalya matt are also situated on the banks of banganga. Thanks to the efforts of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, because of who we are able to worship this ancient Śiva lingam that was once worshiped by Lord Rāma.

Ambarnāth Mandir (Ambarnath, Thane)

  Location: ~50kms from Mumbai (map). Well-connected through Mumbai local trains.

Timings: All day.

About the Temple: This is an ancient and an extremely beautiful temple of Lord Śiva, the king of the sky. The lingam here is swayambhū and appeared in the near-by river Vāldhunī. According to an inscription, the present temple structure was built by the Silhara kings in 1060AD. The temple structure is extremely rich in sculpture and is very attractive. The garbhālayam is few steps below the ground level and the lingam is exposed to the sky (ambar).

The temple is built from black basalt stone and is constructed in the Bhumija style.The temple is an architectural marvel with beautiful sculptures covering almost every nook and corner of the temple. From a bird’s eye view, the temple is star shaped. The most striking sculptures are the idols of  Mahākālī and Pārvatī on the inner most wall of the temple. The severe contrast in the facial expressions is worth noting: Mahākālī has raudram and Pārvatī has śāntam expression respectively.

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