Sunday, 29 July 2012

Lord Vyankateshwara (Balaji) Temple - Recreation of Tirupati - July 29, 2012

We had been planning to visit Ketkavale (केतकावळे) since last 5-6 months. Actually me and my wife, even Arnav, had visited earlier (i'd been there couple of times). This however one was for my parents.

Finally we were able to make it today morning. We left from our house at Narayan Peth at 8.45 am in the morning. We took the Sinhagad Road route instead of Satara Road to avoid traffic and Katraj Ghat to save time. We joined the Mumbai-Bangalore Bypass Highway (NH-4).

Ahead of Khed-Shivapur (खेड-शिवापुर) Toll there is a place with the name Kapurhol (कापुरहोळ). Take left here. Information Board for Narayanpur (नारायणपुर) is seen. This is SH-63.
After about 4 kms inside, an arch is seen on the right. This is the entry to the Balaji Temple Complex. It is referred as Uttara Kshetram (उत्तर-क्षेत्रम्),Temple of the North; main temple being in South in Tirupati. I haven't been to Tirupati, however they say that this is the exact replica.
What strikes the eye here are the vivid, bright colors, exceptional piece of craft-work and the quantum of cleanliness maintained everywhere inside the complex. You feel as if you are somewhere out-of-this-World.
After couple of security checks, we entered inside the main temple. You need to deposit your camera and mobile phones outside. System is very good, however its better to keep them in the car. But then, you might not be able to  take the snaps shown below.
Temple Complex
Temple Complex

Main Entrance
Main temple of Lord Vyankateshwara is at the centre. It is surrounded by the temples of Goddess Padmavati, Lord Krishna, Goddess Saraswati, etc. These can be covered with a well laid path-way. At the end is the distribution of Prasadam (the famous Laddoo which is distributed at Tirupati as well).
There is the facility of Maha-Prasad (lunch) also in the afternoon (i guess 12.00 to 2.00 pm).

Coordinates: 18° 15' 25.06" N 73° 55' 51.85" E

Around the Temple Complex:

Little bit of spying here:
Seems to be a Chevrolet Beat (camouflaged) - Under testing
Pune seems to have started becoming the City Of Replicas. We have Prati-Shirdi, Wax Museum (based on Madam Tussauds), Japanese Garden, Vaishno-Devi Temple and now Prati-Balaji.

From here we continued ahead on SH-63 towards Narayanpur, a religious place about 10 kms from here. The road cris-crosses through a small ghat with the view of mighty Purandar Fort in the front.
Fort Purandar
Narayanpur is the small place famous for the "Ek-mukhi Datta Mandir" (normally Lord Dattatreya is unique with its Three Faces - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). Here the large idol of The Lord is with only one face.

Coordinates: 18° 18' 06.58" N 73° 58' 28.61" E

Temple of Lord Dattatreya
Its a very simple temple with a large Ficus Tree or more commonly Weeping Fig (Marathi: उंबर) at the entrance. This tree is of a religious importance and is found near any temple of Lord Dattatreya. Infact it is said that the Lord is present at a place where this tree is there.
Behind the tree lies a small place of worship which has a small idol, while behind that is the main idol of the Lord.

Just next to this temple is the Narayaneshwar temple of Lord Shiva. Excellent carvings are seen on this thousand year old master-piece constructed during the period of Yadavas.
Inside the sanctum sanctorum (gabhara) is the gupta - hidden - Shiv-linga.

Narayaneshwar "Lord Shiva" Temple
Colorful entrance
Sculptures - damaged though
From here we moved ahead on SH-63 towards Saswad. About 7 kms from here comes this small town on the banks of union (Sangam) of two rivers - Karha (कर्‍हा) and Chambali (चांबळी). Instead of taking the bypass route we took the route through the heart of this town. We passed by the Sangameshwar Temple on the banks of the union of these rivers. Just next to the bridge is the Samadhi of Shrimanta Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt (श्रीमंत बाळाजी विश्वनाथ भट) - 1st Peshwa. Ahead is was some sort of old fort like structure. But we didn't had time. It was already 1 pm and we mice were running all round our stomachs...
But, I'll be surely visiting Saswad sometime later to explore these places.
Sangameshwar Temple
Samadhi of Shrimanta Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt
Just after Dive village about 6 more kms ahead we had an awesome lunch at a Hotel Panch-Ratna. This is was a surprise. Food was awesome considering its a highway restaurant. I would definitely recommend it to everyone whoever is visiting to that area. The hotel after Dive village prior to Dive Ghat on Left when going to Pune from Saswad.

After descending the Dive Ghat we took the left turn on Katraj-Undri bypass instead of straight road to Hadapsar. This was to avoid the Solapur Highway traffic near Hadapsar.

We joined the NH-4 again at Katraj and then reached our house by 3 pm.

Odometer readings:
0         Narayan Peth (Pune)
7.7      Left turn on Pune-Bangalore Bypass
25       Khed-Shivapur Toll
39       Kapurhol (take a left turn - info-board available for Narayanpur)
43.5    Ketkavale - Lord Vyankateshwara (Balaji) Temple - Uttara Kshetram
53       Narayanpur
60       Saswad
66       Dive
101     Narayan Peth

Map is as under:

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