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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Roads, Ruins and Temples!

Temple 1:

It will save you from a lot of boredom and save valuable newsprint should this see the light of the day if I refrain from establishing the ‘atmosphere’ for the story as is the practice. Suffices to say it was only after pressing the ‘book’ button for the tickets up to Mumbai that you realise that the train halts at Pune and you can save about 100 kms of drive and half a day by alighting there instead. Or the friendly Marathi Manoos of Pune have no idea what ‘Very good’ is when they say the road to Shirdi is precisely that. Or the fact that half of India seems to have descended on the temple town the day you are there. Or the fact that after spending the whole night in the queue for attending the Kakada Aarti you are pushed to such a corner in the Samadhi Mandir that watching the rituals on Tata Sky would have been a better option!

Samadhi Mandir, Shirdi

So let me come down to the story right away. After having been a victim of ‘VVIPgiri’ during the Kakada Aarti, self and wife with kids in tow decided to queue up again for darshan in the ‘general’ queue. After spending an hour or so in the line, the queue direction was abruptly changed to the reverse and we found ourselves at the end of the queue. If this was bad what followed was worse. Another hour or so later the same adhoc decision to change the direction of the queue was imposed on us and yet again we ended up in the end of the queue. If you think I spent the next three hours meditating about Saibaba then you have me wrong. After every hour spent on the queue and then jostling among crowd who would have been better off fighting the bulls in a Jallikattu contest and cursing the organizers for their penchant for adhocism, we managed to get near the sanctum sanctorum. As I readied up to catch the glimpse of the deity, out came one more instance of adhocism! Just as I neared the proverbial last mile the security officer turned me and family away, from the general queue to a narrow lane taking me straight to the idol! To a wonderful, peaceful and a long darshan with none between me and Saibaba! Was it destiny that we finally had an unexpectedly great darshan? Or was it divine justice for all the adhocism that we encountered earlier? If it was the latter then I must concede Saibaba would have made a great Twitter troll. Imagine making up with adhocism what was denied to us by adhocism in the first place!

Temple 2:

I once again refrain from wasting your time on creating the ‘atmosphere’ for the story. Suffices to say that if the ‘very good’ roads between Pune and Shirdi were not so ‘very good’, the equally ‘very good’ road between Shirdi and Pandharpur was....well......nonexistant!

Bhu Vaikuntha Pandharpura!

As we alighted from a mini ride in a horse drawn cart at the starting point of the queue for Darshan at the Vitthal/Panduranga Temple, the mind instead of being focused on God was yet again on the adventures of the adhocism that lay ahead. This temple has a unique arrangement called a Pada Darshan wherein every devotee enters the sanctum sanctorum and physically touches the feet of the residing deity. And given the crowd it was quite likely that we would spend the next few years in the queue. As I stood before Vitthala two hours later overwhelmed with devotion, I realised that despite the crowd and the time consuming ritual of touching the feet, the crowd was not only well behaved but the temple authorities had made wonderful arrangements to move the crowd swiftly without appearing to rush either the devotees or themselves! So much so that the multitude in the queue indulged in what Pandharpur is famous for, singing Abhangs and Namasangeertanam! Indeed Bhu Vaikuntha Pandharpura!

Temple (?) 3:

You must indulge me a bit as I lay the ‘atmosphere’ for the story here. Finally I found it. There indeed is a reason for Mumbai to exist. I am sure you will agree with me that you can’t have a city just because Ambanis live in it or Sachin Tendulkar played here or its staple breakfast is Vada Pav! There has to be something more compelling for Mumbai’s existence, and I found it. BY ELEPHANTA! I found it!

A one hour steamer ride on the Arabian Sea takes you to the Elephanta Island also known as the Island of Shiva. The exquisite cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, commissioned by the Chalukyan King Pulakesin II around the 7th Century. Post the mauling the cave temple received in the hands of the Portuguese and subsequently the British, what is left behind still speak volumes of the sheer scale of engineering, the epitome of architecture and art and the unshakable devotion of the Indians of the yore. I will not even try to explain the exquisite carvings based on the various stories of the Shiva Puraan for I know words will fail me. Instead here is a small tour through the Elephanta Cave Temple. Welcome!    


Mahesha - The Trimurthy

Ravana Humbled!


The Cosmic Dancer -Nataraja!

PS: My 10 year old I believe has done a better job of describing the Island of Shiva. Please check out the same here -->  

Marathi Manoos : Marathi speaking populace
Kakada Aarti : Early morning Prayers at Shiridi
Samadhi Mandir: Temple where the mortal remains of Saibaba are buried.
Darshan : Sight of the God/Idol

Jallikattu : Bull fighting sport. Part of Pongal Festival of Tamilnadu
Pada Darshan : Sight of the feet of the Idol

Abhang/Naamasangeertanam : Devotional Songs dedicated to Lord Vitthala
Bhu Vaikuntha Pandharpur : Heaven on earth, a sobriquet given to Pandharpur
Shiva Puraan : Tales of Lord Shiva

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