Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ekveera Aai Tu Dongaravari Najar Hai Tuji Kolyavari

Chaityagriha at Karla
For last two years we wanted to visit Ekveera devi temple. The famed temple of Koli (fishermen) temple is at Karle near Lonavala . Since childhood we used to hear about the deity through song ‘Ekveera Aai tu Dongaravari Najar hai tuzi kolyavari’. But we did not know where the temple existed. So about two years ago we came to know  that the temple is situated near Lonavala in some nearby mountain. But we could not plan our visit for long time.
With beginning of 2012 we decided to visit Ekveera devi Temple. On first Sunday of the year Jan 8, we decided to visit the temple. We took Manamad Pune Passenger from Panvel. The train was late by about half an hour . We got inside train at around 9:30 AM and we reached Lonavala at 10:50 AM. The journey was comfortable. The train did not have any reserved coach and it was pretty vacant throughout journey.
After getting down at Lonavala we went near bus depot and enquired about buses travelling to Karle. Next bus was after about half an hour, so we decided to travel by our favorite tumtum. The temple is at distance of about 6 Km from Lonavala. We bought some Chikki from shop in front of bus depot and then moved to locate Tumtum stand. Tumtum stand was not far. After getting inside tumtum it took around 15 minutes to reach Karle fata. From Karle fata we took another auto rikshaw to reach bottom of the mountain.
Inside Ekveera Temple
It was a sunny day. There were quite a few restaurants selling cold drinks and snacks in Karle. As we already had our breakfast. We started climbing the stairs right away. There were many street vendors selling tak, fruits and snacks on the way. As we were in picnic mood we drank tak and ate bor and guava, just to remember child hood days. Aai and Baba was also delighted to have sore and sweet fruits from village. It took around half an hour to reach near the temple. As the temple is just beside famous Karle caves, you need to pay entry fees while entering campus of the temple. However if you don’t want to visit the caves, you need not pay the fees. But the caves are quite splendorous. So anyone visiting Ekveera devi temple should make sure that he or she visits the temple. The fees is only INR 5 per person.
The temple is very small. But we had to wait in queue for about 15 minutes due to crowd. After long wait of 15 minutes we had chance to see the deity. The idol of deity was decorated with blue colored saree.  After having darshan we went to see the Chaityagriha, the famous caves of Karle.
The Chaityagriha stands for Conference hall in Sanskrit. The Chaityagriha of Karle was built around 2000 years before . It is one of the very few wooden Indian Chaityagrihas, which are still in good shape. At the entrance a tall pillar stands with four lions on top of it.   Then there are several sculptures of couples dressed in medieval Indian costumes along with elephants. Inside the Chaityagriha there is a small stup. There are several pillars. Each of the pillar has elephant on top of it with a couple sitting on it. It is really a wonder how a wooden Chaityagriha could sustain more than 2000 years!
Chaityagrihas were built for religious discussion of Buddhist Monks. There are several other caves just beside Chaityagriha. But they don’t carry any sculptures. I guess they were being used by monks for residential purpose.
After clicking few snaps at Chaityagriha we started our journey back to Navi Mumbai. We went to Lonavala and took Bus for Kamothe.  Ekveera devi temple along with Chaityagriha is located at very short distance from Mumbai. Considering the historical importance of Chaityagriha every Mumbaikar should visit Chaityagriha sometime in life. After all it is so near from Mumbai !                           

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Alibaug : A perfect weekend Getaway for Mumbaikars

This year we had decided to celebrate the 31st december in Lonavala at Fariyaz Plaza, but somehow it did not work out. So we decided to visit Alibaug instead. Since long time we had been interested in visiting Alibaug. I tried calling few hotels and resorts in Alibaug, but all of them have already been booked. We had only seven days in our hand. Ultimately one of Ashwini’s friends , Aasavari helped us by offering us free stay in her Mama’s flat. We were delighted at the idea of celebrating the 31st in Alibaug. I called up my parents and asked them to come down to Mumbai  as my mother was much interested in visiting Alibaug. They had somewhat different plans for the next whole week. But they decided to come down to Mumbai to celebrate 31st at Alibaug along with us. Prachi also decided to take a break from her office on 31st as we decided to leave for Alibaug on30th.
We decided that we will travel to Alibaug by launch or catamaran. So we decided to assemble at Gateway of India by 6:00 PM on 30th. As I was the one who worked at farthest distance farthest from Gateway, I was last one to reach. I reached Gateway of India by almost 6:15 PM. Passengers had already lined up to catch the Catamaran by that time. Thank god, Ashwini had already secured tickets of PNP catamaran leaving at 6:30 PM. Otherwise, it would have been pretty difficult to get the tickets for all of us. One way travel through AC Catamaran costs INR 110. We left Gateway of India at 6:30 approx and reached Mandava Jetty by around 7:10 PM. As it was dark throughout our journey we could not enjoy our ride much.  We were guided by Ashwini’s friend to catch the buses arranged by PNP Catamaran. The breeze was little strong although it was not as cold as we expected it to be.  After walking for 5-10 minutes, we reached the place where buses were parked. PNP had planned three buses for the passengers and all the passengers could be sufficiently accommodated in those buses.
A journey of another 45 minutes and we were in Alibaug. We got down near bus stand and walked for ten minutes to reach our destination. The building was just next to Balaji Temple and the local people were singing Bhajan in the temple. Asavari’s parents had already opened the flat and they welcomed us. After getting freshened, we chatted with them for half an hour. They requested us to visit their home for dinner. But we respectfully turned down their request as my mother had already brought Chapatis and Prawns from home.
After devouring Chapatis with yummy prawns we decided to take a walk to nearby Alibaug beach. The beach was very near to the flat. After walking only for 10 minutes we could reach the beach. It was around 10 PM of night. When we reached the beach we could not see the sea. It was pretty dark. The sea at Alibaug is shallow and therefore during low tide it moves few kilometers back from the shore.  We walked for few minutes in the direction of sea and tried to see the sea, but it was really dark and we were not able to make any guess. We were neither able to see any- thing nor able to hear any sound. We could see only some fishing boats. Unable to see anything we came back and spent some time at small garden built at seashore and then went back to home.
Next day we got ready by around 10 PM and went to nearby New Asara Hotel have break-fast in. We ordered for Misal Pav, Vada Sambar and Uppit. Misal Pav was really testy. After having break-fast we went to sea shore. It was a low tide again. We could see the sea at distance of around 1 Km from sea shore. On our right side we could see the fort of Kolaba. There were several horse carriages carrying the tourists to the fort. We decided to walk to the fort. After about 20 min of walk we reached entrance of the fort. We had to pay Rs 5 per head for entry in the fort. The fort is small one. 45 minutes should be enough to see the fort. It has several temples inside. The temple of Shri Ganesh is most beautiful. Apart from temples the fort has a lake called Apsara and a couple of cannons. After clicking a few photographs along with cannons and at temple, we left the fort and went to the sea. The sea at Alibaug beach is relatively calm. The waves are really small. There were few dogs who were trying to catch something in water, may be a crab or a fish. After spending 10-15 minutes playing in the sea water we started our journey ahead.

After reaching sea shore we got a tum tum ( also called Sitara or Vikram) and went to Alibaug bus stand. We decided to go to Chaul. The hotel owner of New Asara hotel had told us that Shri  Datta Temple at Chaul is beautiful and something we should visit. Hence we took a tum tum to go to Chaul. After journey of around 30 minutes we reached Chaul. The temple of Shri Datta was  around 2 Km from the spot where we got down. Hence we had to again catch another auto to reach the temple. However after getting down the auto we found that the temple was on a hill and climbing the hill would have certainly taken much of our time and energy which was essential for the day ahead. Hence we decided not to go to the temple. We offered our prayer to Shri Datta from the bottom of the hill and then started our journey ahead.
We decided to have lunch as it was around 2 O’clock. We soon located a hotel called Fafe Bandhu restaurant in Chaul. However the owner told us that we won’t get lunch. So we moved ahead to Revadanda as Chaul did not have any other hotel.  After spending some more time in searching for hotel we reached Kelkars. Kelkars are well known for their vegetarian food in Revdanda. But food was not ready there. Ultimately we decided to wait to get the lunch ready. After about 20 minutes lunch was ready. It was simple but testy affair. After having lunch we wanted to go to Birla Temple. But we were told by Kelkars that Birla Temple opens only after 4 PM. It was only 3 PM, so we decided to spend half an hour at Revdanda beach, which was at distance of 5 minutes from Kelkars’ hotel.
Revdanda beach is very clean and serene. There was no one at beach. We spent about half an hour at beach and then got a Tumtum to go to Birla Temple. We wanted to carry camera inside the temple. But we were not allowed to do so. It is temple of Shri Ganesha built in white marble. After spending about half an hour at temple we left for Nagaon.
We reached Nagaon Beach by 5:30 PM. As it was last day of the year, the beach pretty crowded. Quite a lot of people were enjoying the water rides.  Prachi wanted all of us to enjoy the sea rides. Therefore Baba, Aai and  Prachi went for a Sofa ride. I and Ashwini went for a ride over a Water scooter. It was somewhat adventurous and full of fun. We payed Rs. 1000 in toto for both rides. It was really an enjoyable experience. After enjoying the rides and playing in water for some time we decided to go back to Alibaug.
We reached home and took some rest. We had dinner at nearby Konkan Katta ( Seafood) and then we went to sea shore (Alibaug Beach). It was low tide again. Over all we could not a  sea high tide at Alibaug beach. After spending some time at beach we came back to flat. We waited till 12 AM to welcome new year. But we were too tired to celebrate, dance or sing songs to welcome the new year. At 12 O’clock we wished happy new year to each other and dozed off.
Next day we had a plan to head Mumbai in the morning . But Aasavari’s parents insisted that we visit their home and have lunch with them. So we postponed our departure to evening. As we had some more time now, we visited Samadhi (Tomb) of Kanhoji Angre ( Admiral of Chatrapati Shivaji’s Army). There were few other Samadhis near Samadhi of Kanhoji Angre. I guess those were of his other family members. After clicking few pics we headed to Asavari’s home. It was already 12:30 PM and delicious food had been waiting us. We thanked Asavari and her family for delicious lunch and left for Alibaug bus stand.
Overall the trip was full of fun and exploration. We enjoyed it quite a lot. I would recommend visit to Alibaug to anyone who does not have much time (1-2 days) and wants to enjoy serenity and nature.