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Memories (5)…

( the last blog about our 4 day trip… A little longer than the others…)

The dawn of Thursday… Feet just wanna rush towards Mahalaxmi Mandir… Anxious for Mahalaxmi Darshan… We all get ready and decide to go for Darshan even before having a breakfast… Kids agree too and we leave…

A grand courtyard, A majestic temple… Temple of yester years, made from stone… With figures of Gods and Goddesses, their stories adorning it… First the Darshan of Lord Balaji, the consort of Mahalaxmi… It is said that He has travelled all the way from Tirupati, through the Sahyadri’s to meet Her…

As we enter the temple first the Darshan of Mahakali, one of the female trinities of Vedic period… Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati are the female forms of the Divine trinity of Madadev, Vishnu and Brahma… This teaches us the importance that the Vedic period gave to women and imbibes the culture of treating women not only with adoration and respect but also see the Divine form in them… We also see the Laxmi Yantra while moving towards the deity…

The moment arrives when we all get to see Mahalaxmi and our gaze is fixed in Her beauty and splendour… She just instills in us a divine outlook towards wealth for a life time… Just felt like if was absorbed into Her and forgot all the other thoughts in my mind… I just wandered of and never realised when I came out of the sanctorum sanctum and was pulled towards the last of the trinity, Mahasaraswati… I move out of the temple just in the same flow…

A few moments later realised that am separated from my family, so wait outside… My father in law joins me in a few minutes… But the other members? Where are they? We just look around for them… That is when my nephew comes out to tell us that we have an oppurtunity to witness the aarti (a ritual where the deity is worshipped with light) of Mahalaxmi… We both declined while the other members stayed inside… It needs a lot of positivity in life and luck to be within the temple to witness the aarti… They all were very happy and lucky to witness it and be a part of it…
Then we moved onto the journey for which we all had come… To see the deity of Tulaja Bhavani and pay our respects to Her… There is a small temple of Tulaja Bhavani in the Mahalaxmi temple courtyard itself, but as the Pujari told us the She is the Goddess of the Common people, but the Goddess of the Clan (kuldevtaa) is just nearby… So we walked towards the place and it was a big Haveli (small palace like structure)… We went inside and paid our respects…

We clicked photographs of the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, Shahu Maharaj and the stuffed animals killed by Shahu Maharaj installed inside the Haveli… We sat in the temple for a while and recited the Shree Suktam and Narayanopanishad…

Then after breakfast we proceeded onwards our journey to Pawankhind…

A place of battle for many but a place of utmost devotion for the 300 who gave up their lives for their beloved Maharaj… The history of the place is itself mindblowing… Shivaji after killing Afzalkhan did not rest… He conquered territories from Pratapgad to Kolhapur within a span of 20/22 days… He reached Panhalgad… He was surrounded by the armies of Fazal Khan and the Siddi… They laid a seige to the fort… Shivaji’s movement became restricted…

After a gap of 8 months, after the onset of the rainy season… One fine night He thinks of a plan… He sends an emissary to Khan and informs him of surrendering… The Khan’s army is delighted… They relax and loosen up their vigil… Taking advantage of this situation, Shivaji with a band of trusted 600 Bandal mavlas escapes Panhalgad at night… It was pouring heavily which helped in the escape…

But the Khan and Siddi came to know of the escape and they start a pursuit… Rainy night of Amavasya (new moon day) and the eerie and mountainous area of Sahyadri’s… They both run… Shivaji and his men on foot and the Khan and the Siddi on their horses… They start catching up…

Shivaji and his trusted band reach Ghodkhind, a valley between two mountains… Now the head of the Bandal Mavlas, Baji Prabhu Deshpande, comes forward and requests Shivaji to move towards Vishalgad with 300 of his men and he himself with the remaining 300 will stop the enemy in the valley… Shivaji is not willing but Baji coerces him to do so… Shivaji moves ahead with a heavy heart…

Baji and his band of 300 stand there in the valley and fight the enemy… They fight till they hear the sound of the guns, the signal that Shivaji has successfully reached Vishalgad… It takes Shivaji about 8/10 hours to reach… Baji and his men give their ultimate sacrifice… Shivaji reaches, the guns boom and hearing these booms, Baji gives up his life… An army of 300 against an army of 1000’s… Valour personified…

Shivaji comes to know of this and He names Ghodkhind as Pawankhind… Baji and his men have given their blood and made this valley, pious…

We reach there… The valley is in shambles… One feels bad when we see that places of history are not looked after nor maintained… We climb down into the valley from one place and we all are lost in that world…

Spontaneously words flow out of the mouth “Kshatriyakulavatansh, Go Brahman Pratipalak, Sinhasandheesh, Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jay” “Jay Bhavani, Jay Shivaji”… The sound of the slogans resonates… We spend lots of time down there and after an hour or so, we climb up the hill again… Refresh, rejuvenated, with a sense of pride…

We settle back into our bus and onto Panhalgad… The fort has been completely transformed to a hill station… So we see many people here… The bus moves into the fort and one can take the bus anywhere in the fort as they have build good roads within… We spend some time there, taste Jhunka Bhakar there and return back to Kolhapur late night…

The next day morning is the day when we travel back to Mumbai… Being a connoisseur of food and tastes, Payal and myself with Bhadrik and Miti move out to a place which houses the best misal in Kolhapur… Fadtare Misal Centre.. We eat our fill and rejoin the team at the hotel for our journey back to Mumbai…

The transportation was good, the roads are good and the ones with whom you travel are the people whom you love… The return journey was safe and we all reach Mumbai at 7pm… We parted reminiscing the moments we spent together during the four days and the warmth and fun of being together…

We all look forward for another trip down the memory lane at the earliest…

Author:

Am a teacher by profession. A student of History and international politics. Believe that Bhakti (Devotion) and Humanism can only save Humanity. Revere all creation. My thoughts are influenced by His Holiness Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale

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