I had wonderful Christmas 2018 and new year celebration with family trip to Maharashtra’s holy places.
This trip was great opportunity of Darshan at so many Temples and also quenched driver inside me with 4 days of constant driving.
Its quite easy to get information about all these holy places, however this blog highlights some useful tips/contacts for anyone planning visit to these places.
Total distance covered : 1327 KM.
Number of days: 4
Mumbai – Ekvia devi – Pandharpur – Tuljapur – Ganganapur – Akkalkot – Shikhar Shinganapur – Gondawale – Prati Balaji Temple – Ekmukhi Datta temple – Jejuri – Mumbai
Aadishakti Mata Ekvira Devi Temple:
- While going to Ekvira temple via Mumbai-Pune expressway some people take Lonavala exit and go via internal road. However you can reach quickly and save lot of time by taking Kusegoan exit.
- You need to ascend around 500 steps to reach temple. There is one ghat route by which you can avoid half the steps. However this route is very narrow and steep so driving can become difficult in traffic. Also parking becomes issue at top. so better you park your car down and ascend those 500 steps.
Vitthal Rukmini Temple Pandharpur:
- While driving to Pandharpur via Mumbai-Pune expressway highway, google map may show you Khandala route. But this route goes through small villages and road conditions are not that Good. Instead what you can do is take Shirwal-Pandharpur road. Shirwal exit from expressway is bit confusing. So ideally after after Shirwal ST bus stand take service road so that you don’t miss this exit.
- Accommodation at Pandharpur:
Vitthal being God of massess, Pandharpur is quite crowded. There are lot of economy options available for stay. Also almost each community of Maharashtra have their own Aasharams/Maths here. There are few Hotels but they are also quite simple ones.
We stayed at Parmarth Aashram. This Aashram is near Vipra datta ghat having scenic view of Chandrabhaga River. This is very simple aashram with basic amenities for stay (no food available). This was our first stay.
Tuljabhavani Temple, Tuljapur:
- One good thing about this temple is now its quite disciplined than earlier. Everyone visiting temple need to get their free pass where they take photo of each visitor.
- As soon as you enter in temple area many agents may offer you Abhishek and car parking package. Generally they park your car on temple road which is illegal and can get toed by RTO police. so better to park in proper parking place and then go to temple.
Shri Datta Guru Temple Gangapur:
- This Datta temple is in Karnataka and road conditions was quite bad in both states near border area especially after Akkalkot. At some places road work is in progress but some places its very pathetic. This increases your driving time and effort so be prepared for it.
- Ideal way of taking Darshan here is –> First visit main Datta Mandir then move to Kalkeshwar Mandir (1 km for main temple) and finally go to Bhima-Amarja Sangam for Diya’s ceremony. This Sangam is around 5 KM away from main temple.
- In terms of facilities this place was bit surprise for me. Temple area is kind of small village but you have good hotels here for stay.
We stayed at SKG hotel (Contact Mr. Babu 7349438030) This was newly opened hotel couple of days ago. We got opportunity to do opening ceremony for one of the room. This was our quite comfortable second stay compared to earlier day.
- While coming back if you start from hotels area/main temple google map shows you one route. If you start from Bhima-Amarja Sangam then google maps shows another route. I found second one better.
- This is less known but very beautiful temple.
- Best part is drive to temple through ghat route is very scenic.
Gondavalekar Maharaj Samadhi-Mandir, Gondavale:
- Shikhar Shinganapur to Gondavale via Dahivali is very scenic route. You will enjoy drive for sure.
- This temple is Samadhi place of Gondavalekar Maharaj.
Very disciplined and clean institution — everyone work over here as Seva.
- They provide good accomodation and free food. But probem is online booking is not available. You need to be present physically for bookings.
- They celebrate 8 days utsav on the event of Gondavalekar Maharaj Punyatithi from 23rd to 31st December. This area is quite happening during this period with fun fair and so many visitors.
- Coincidently we also visited this place in that period so didn’t get any accomodation in temple. Nearby there is no good hotel for stay. We managed over night stay at Priyanka Lodge (Contact Mr. Prathmesh 9075202007). Not a great place to stay but ok if Bhaktnivas is full.
Prati Balaji Temple, Narayanpur:
- This temple is beautiful replica of the Tirumal Tirupati Balaji temple.
Narayanpur is easily reachable from Pune-Satara highway.
Very clean temple but these days getting quite crowded because of easy of accessibility.
- They don’t allow mobile phone inside temple so better you keep it in car itself OR one person in group has to stay back holding everyone’s mobile.
- This temple serves good free lunch — but make sure that you grab that free food coupon before leaving main temple area. After taking Prasad, there will be one person distributing those coupons.
Ekmukhi Datta Temple, Narayanpur:
- This is small and less known temple. Its around 12 KM from Prati Balaji Temple.
- This is the only temple where Datta idol is Ekmukhi.
- There is also Lord Shiva temple next to Datta temple. I think generally people don’t notice it. But its nice ancient structure with beautiful Shiva Linga.
Khandoba Temple Jejuri (Malhar Gad):
- This could be your third destination for the day as its 26 KM from Ekmukhi Datta Temple.
- Temple is located on small hill having fort like structure with multiple entrances –> Go by east entrance as steps are less compared to west entrance. Also private parking is available by paying 30 INR at this entrance.
- Generally temple is crowded for Darshan. So depending on available time you can choose one of three following options:
- General queue – In this queue you have to wait for long time — it can take 3/4 hours depending on crowd on that day.
- 50 INR Pass – In this queue you have to pay 50 INR for each person but can get Darshan in one hour.
- VIP Pass – It costs 200 INR per head but they takes you directly to darshan.