Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Forgotten Shiva Temple - Kopeshwar Temple

Some places appeal so much to your heart that you get an intense desire to visit them again; Kopeshwar Temple is one of such place. I visited Kopeshwar Temple this March on our trip to Kolhapur. Kopeshwar Temple is located in a small village called Kirdapur which is around 60 – 65 Kms from Kolhapur.

We headed for Khidrapur in a car and took up road to ‘Narsobachi wadi’. It was pleasant drive through lush green fields of sugar-cane.

This wonderful temple belongs to Lord Shiva, and named as ‘Kopeshwar’. There is a mythological story behind the name ‘Kopeshwar’. Devi Sati (daughter of King Daksha) was married to lord Shiva. King Daksha was not fond of his son-in-law and thus dint invite Sati & Shiva to the yagna (hindu ritual performed along with holy fire) he was about to perform.

Devi Sati felt bad and humiliated. She went to her father seeking the reason for not inviting her husband to the Yagna. In turn, King Daksha insulted Shiva in fromt of her. The insult of Lord Shiva was unbearable and intolerable to Sati. She immediately jumped in the yajna and destroyed herself. 
Hearing this news, Shiva lost his temper and punished King Daksha by cutting his head. It is believed that angry Shiva wandered around and it was finally at this place that his anger subsided. Hence the temple got its name, Kopeshwar i.e. ‘Kop’ means anger and ‘Eshwar’ means lord Shiva.

As soon as one enters the temple premises, the temple’s aura takes over and the entire appearance of this temple takes us in to a different age altogether. The temple is made up of Black stone and the architecture of the temple resembles itself with that of Konark of Puri and other traditional ancient south Indian temples.

Temple stand firm with beautiful stone carvings depicting scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, flowers, trees, birds, human figures. As you step into the beautiful Temple, you can actually feel the coolness. There are superbly carved pillars which support the stone ceiling that is open to the skies.

The inner temple is more cold and dark. The shiva linga, burning lamps make the atmosphere peaceful and divine.

I was surprised to know that there was no nandi in the temple in spite of the fact that it is Shiva mandir.

It is sad that most of the sculptures are badly damaged and mutilated. There are no exact historical evidences of ‘who destroyed what’ but it is very painful to see such beauty and art ruined.

Mutilated Sculptures
Kopeshwar Temple reminded my mother of the wonderful architectural carvings temples of Halebidu and Bellur.

Kopeshwar temple gave me much more than I expected. It gave me peace, joy and an opportunity to appreciate the sculptures and carvings.

It is really sad that such wonders are still unknown to the tourists. There isn’t much written and published about this place. Though this temple comes directly under the control of Maharashtra Tourism and has been declared as a heritage temple by the Archaeological Survey of India it is the not marketed at all.

This ancient architectural splendor should be made popular so that more and more people of similar interests can come and visit here. Through this blog I wish to promote this place and request you all to visit this temple on your visit to Kolhapur.

It is a beautiful place of carvings, such splendid artwork, nearly lost, is a pity thing. Kopeshwar, is strictly no miss-miss place if you are planning a visit to Kolhapur.

Read about my visit to Radha Krishna Prem Mandir in Vrindavan.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Fun and Frolic at Bandra Fair 2014

We visited the Bandra Fair on 20th September 2014, Saturday in the evening. Bandra Fair is 8 days affair which is celebrated on a large scale with lot of enthusiasm and zest.

When we reached the Bandra Fair the first thing that we noticed was the huge number of volunteers trying to manage the chaos and lead the flow of people in the right direction and in a disciplined manner.

The Ladies Paradise - Jewellery & Accessories Stall

Toy Stall

Selling T-Shirts

Stalls selling kids winter caps

The volunteers had earmarked the left side of the road with ropes. The left side of the rope was for the people to walk towards to Mount Mary Church and road on the right to be used by traffic.

Selling Aam Papad

It’s a long walk from Carmel Church to Mount Mary Steps. The entire stretch is full of people, colors, spirituality, love and laughter.

The entire road is full with stalls… stalls selling everything…. Clothes, bags, jewelry, hair accessories, belts, home-made pickles, toys, balloons, caps, watch….. There is a separate section for swings and rides. There are many tattoo artists ready to make what you want. (I don’t recommend getting a tattoo done here)

Selling Homemade Pickles
Selling Balloons

As you walk up the stairs of Mount Mary Church the stalls are predominantly selling candles, candles in different shapes and sizes. It is believed that the Church has the power to cure people ailment and sickness. People light candles in the shape of the organ of their body that corresponds to their ailment in the hope of being cured. Childless couple light candles of babies in the hope of a child. There are also candles in the shape of house, money, car, computer etc. People burn the candles in front of Mother Mary hoping for their wish to be completed. There are small kids on the road trying to see candles and flowers as offerings to Mount Mary.

Stalls selling candles and marigold flowers

Candles in the shape of Child, Legs, Home etc.

Candles in the shape of House

After reaching the top, we saw Mount Mary Church. It is very impressive looking and was beautifully lit up. The Church was full of visitors and everyone was looking at the statue of Mother Mary and praying. As there were lots of people in the Church it was a slow entry in the church and a fast exit from the church. They don’t even let you look at Mother Mary properly. The volunteers hush you out so fast. It is not their fault also; there are so many people behind you in the queue.

The exit from the Church to the main road was a nightmare. There were so so so so many people. Both the sides of the steps were lined with stalls selling sweets, CDs, jewelry, sunglasses, grams etc.

Exit from Church

After a while you start feeling suffocated and claustrophobic. We just wanted to get out of there and were just not bothered to see the stalls. It was such a relief, when we were exited from the Church and were on the main road. It felt as if we could breathe again.

We decided to call it a day and did not go through the line of stalls again. We took a side road and exited the fair.

View while taking Mount Mary Steps

Bandra fair can be extremely crowded but I'd definitely recommend visiting if you're around.  

The Fair is all about ‘Pray, Eat And Love’!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ganpati Visarjan 2014

Every year since I’ve lived in Mumbai, I’ve had grand plans of going to experience the Ganesh visarjan (immersion) on the last day of the Ganesh festival. And, every year, I’ve found some excuse not to go — monsoon illness, the rain, the heat, the crowd.

But this year I finally headed on the road to witness and feel the energy that surrounds the Ganpati Visarjan. My office allowed us to leave at early around 4 pm to avoid the traffic on the occasion of visarjan. I was home by 5 pm and was on the road along with my camera by 6 pm along with my husband Nikhil and sister Nikita.

We headed to Versova beach which is a 20 mins walk from home.

Ganpati Visarjan is a day when almost all of Mumbai is on the road. The road was jam packed with people, so many people selling ice cream, kulfi, toys for kids, devil horns, whistles etc.  

Once on the road we could see Ganpati idols of all shapes and sizes on carts and in trucks, drumming, crackers and hoards of people flooding the roads.  

There is a lot of drumming, dancing, fireworks and smearing of gulal (or Holi colour). People have adorned the chariots with flowers, lights, balloons, coconut leaves and other decoration. It was one huge and crazy street party!
The atmosphere reverberates with chants of “Ganapati bappa moriya, pudcha varshi lavkarya”  – Hail Lord Ganpati, come soon again next year.
Yet, what did surprise me was that it was nowhere as chaotic as what I feared. The processions followed set routes, the police did an outstanding job of maintaining order, and the streets away from the action were almost deserted.

When we arrived, people filled the beach as far back as the eye could see. There were so many ganpatis ready to be immersed in water, the followers making their last prayers, singing the last bhajan, doing the last arti. 

Everywhere there were people bowing their head to Ganpati and receiving the blessings from the Elephant head God. You can hear the aarti at different stages, synchronized claps, the sound of the pooja bells all mixed together with the roar of the waves and the sound of the wind in the background.

In order to do the last arti, people had dug out the sand and kept a lamp in the small pit created so that the lamp is not affected by the strong sea breeze. An interesting and practical solution. 

When it started drizzling, people took out their umbrella to cover the Bappa, the rain did not deter their enthusiasm.
Amongst the crowd, large idols waited to be taken out on boats and immersed in the sea.

On the road there were numerous stalls distributing water, chaas and vada pav for free. The beauty of Mumbai is that for freebies also we make a queue. There was a group of sardars distributing poha. We took loads of snaps and everyone was immensely supportive to allow us to take pictures of the idol. We gobbled loads and loads of finger licking ‘Prasaad’.

Stall distributing Water and Vada Pav
 As the sun set, more and more people began to pour in from all directions, and the idols kept coming. Tired, sweaty, satisfied, and concerned about not being able to make our way home easily, I decided to call it quits and depart. For most people though, the celebration was just beginning.

After attending the Ganpati Visarjan, we realized that it is not an event to be missed especially if you are in Mumbai. So we have decided to be a part of this event every year and enjoy the energy, enthusiasm and craziness it brings.
At night I realized that, once in water, the idol dissolves out slowly reminding us of the perishable nature of things in life. In a way, the festival inspires us to not get attached to the material things in life. It also reiterates the fact that though the form dissolves, blessing remains. Through the mood is somber but the energy is uplifting.  
Ek do teen chaar ganpati ki jai jai kaar
Paach che saat aath ganpati hai sabke saath!!!