July 21, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.107: Mahalaxmi Temple, Kolhapur.

“Most Famous Temple of Kolhapur.”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 20 July 2015NEW
Kolhapur has many temples, but the Mahalaxmi Temple is the most well known amongst them. Your trip to Kolhapur is not complete if you have not visited this temple dedicated to the Goddess Mahalaxmi, the consort of Vishnu, and it is believed that the divine couple reside in the area around the temple. The temple is also known as Dakshin Kashi, and Ambabai Mandir.

The temple is very ancient and is said to have been built in the 7th century, and belongs to the Kannada Chalukya Empire. Upon entering the main entrance there are several deepmalas (stone lamp pillars) on both sides. An image of Garuda faces the sanctum. Another stone mandap enshrining Ganesh also faces the sanctum. Following this is the mandap with three shrines facing west. The central one is that of Mahalaxmi and the two on either side are those of Mahakali and Mahasaraswati. The temple complex exhibits mortarless construction echoing the style of the early Deccan temples. The image of Mahalaxmi carved in black stone is 3 feet in height.

The temple doors open at 4.45 am and remain open till 10.30 pm. Five worship services and Aartis are offered at notified timings through the day, starting from 5 am. A festival image of the deity is taken out in procession every Friday, and on full moon days. Consequently Fridays are the most crowded days at the temple and one may have to wait long to get a darshan. On the other days it does not take more than an hour of waiting in the queue. Order and discipline is well maintained by the temple authorities. Mahaprasad (holy food) is distributed after 12 noon by the temple trust on full moon days.

There is a footwear stand outside the temple where one can leave one’s shoes after paying a token amount. Offerings to the goddess can be purchased from the numerous stalls outside. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.

The area around the temple is very congested due to narrow roads and milling crowds. Hence it is better to park your vehicle some distance away in the nearby lanes and walk the last few metres to the temple.

After visiting the temple one can shop around from the various stalls and shops which sell local produce. One can buy images of the deities, prayer items, eatables, fruit, and even Kolhapuri slippers.
Visited March 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

July 20, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.106: Moreshwar Ganesh Mandir Temple, Morgaon, Near Baramati.

“Ashtavinayak Ganpati Temple No.1.”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 19 July 2015NEW
This Ganpati temple at Morgaon near Pune has one of the eight Swayambhu (self formed, not made by man) Ganpati idols in the state of Maharashtra. The devotees who do the AshtaVinayak yatra, or pilgrimage of the eight Swayambhus always start at this temple, and end the yatra also at this temple.

The temple is made of black stone and is surrounded by a high wall. As you enter you are greeted by an idol of the Nandi Bull. There is also an idol of his vehicle, the mouse, enclosed in a glass case, and a large deepa stambha (pillar for lamps). As you enter the inner sanctum you will see the idols of two huge peacocks above the door. The name 'Mayureshwar Ganpati' has been derived from the peacocks which used to inhabit Morgaon village. The vermilion coloured Ganpati idol sits regally in the sanctum, silently blessing his devotees.

Decorum is maintained in the temple by the pujaris, and despite the large crowds we were able to get Lord Ganeshas blessings in half an hour. Outside the temple there are numerous stalls selling offerings, as well as restaurants where you can buy a decent vegetarian meal. Parking lot for vehicles is about 300 meters away from the temple.

Morgaon is about 80 km from Pune city. Take NH9 (Pune Sholapur highway) past Hadapsar, Loni, Uruli Kancahn, Yevat, till you reach Chaufula. At Chaufula you have to turn right to get on to the Ahmednagar Satara highway, and go past Supa till you reach Morgaon.
Visited May 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

July 9, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No.105: Pali Ganesh Mandir, near Nagothane.

“Shri Ballaleshwar Ganpati at Pali.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 8 July 2015 NEW
Ballal Vinayak at Pali is one of the eight Ashtavinayak Ganapati temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Legend has it that this Ganapati is said to have come to the aid of a young lad, Ballal, who was one of his fervent devotees. Shri Ballaleshwar is the only incarnation of Lord Ganesha which is known by a devotee’s name.

There are two routes to approach this temple town from Pune. One is via the Pune- Mumbai expressway upto Khalapur, and then via the Khopoli – Pali state highway. The other route is via Chandni Chowk, Pirangut, Paud, Mulshi, Tamhini Ghat, Vile, Nandgaon and Pali. We chose the latter as it is a more scenic and picturesque route. It is about 120 km from Pune via Mulshi. The road is reasonably good except for a 2 km stretch near Vile.

The architecture of the temple is very unique and beautiful. It is constructed in stone and wood. There is a hall outside the sanctum, with a live TV screen, where we could sit for a while and pray in peace.

A towering mountain of the Sahyadri range near the temple adds to the natural beauty of the place.

We found free parking for our car about 200 meters away from the temple, and picked up a plate of offerings from one of the numerous stalls near the entrance. The premises were very clean and well organised with proper barricades so there was no chaos near the entrance. We had a very good and peaceful darshan of the Lord. We picked up some souvenirs and Prasad and were quite satisfied with the blessings from Lord Ganesha.
Visited July 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

July 8, 2015

My TripAdvisor Review No 104: Kittu's Farm & Resort, Kolad.

“Green, Serene Getaway.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW
This resort is tucked away in the interiors of Kolad, which nestles in the foothills of the Sahyadri mountains midway between Mumbai and Pune. It would have been difficult to find the place if we had not got the clear directions from Mr. Kittu himself. After descending from Pune via Mulshi Lake and the Tamhini Ghat we had to take a left turn at Vile junction on the Kolad road till Sutarwadi and then turn right on the Yeral road. After about 1 km we reached Kittu’s Farm.

It had a very beautiful setting next to the serene Sutarwadi Lake. The cottage was surrounded by young coconut and mango trees in a small farm. The surroundings were very peaceful and green. Since it was a weekday we had the whole resort to ourselves. Mr Kittu had instructed the caretaker to keep our lunch ready and even though we arrived at 3 pm we got a fresh hot thali lunch.

Since there were no other guests we chose the big room with 4 double beds and a powerful ac. The furniture was basic but comfortable, and meals were served just outside our room in the open dining area next to the kitchen. The caretaker Mr Dharamveer was very courteous and catered to all our needs. Airtel network was not available but he lent us his DoCoMo cellphone to make a call.

The resort is located next to the Sutarwadi Lake and dam and there was a small gazebo nearby, where we could sit and admire the natural beauty of the surroundings. On one side was the serene lake with its water flowing through the opening in the bund and creating a gurgling musical sound, and on the eastern side were the towering hills of the Sahyadri range. It was indeed a picture post card setting.

The Kundalika River rafting point is about 12 km away from the resort, on the Pali road. There is a fixed timing for the rafting which depends when water is released from the upstream dam. Generally rafting is allowed between 9.30 to 10 am in the morning. We reached a bit late but just in time to see the last few rubber rafts rushing down the rapids. Then we left for the Pali Ganpati temple which was another 22 km down the country road.
  • Stayed June 2015, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC