Dear Friends, Have you heard about <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1lace><st1laceName>BHIMASHANKAR</st1laceName><st1laceType>TEMPLE</st1laceType></st1lace> OF LORD SHIVA. WELL IT IS CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE 12 JYOTIRLINGS OF OUR COUNTRY. LOCATION It is ideally located in <st1lace><st1laceName>Bhavgiri</st1laceName><st1laceType>Village</st1laceType></st1lace>, Khed Taluka of Pune in <st1lace>Maharashtra</st1lace>. I visited this holy place on Sunday and I wish to share my expedition with my friends in ILite. May be it would help a few who have plans to visit this shrine. ROUTE We traveled by car from Panvel Þ (via <st1:Street><st1:address>Express Highway</st1:address></st1:Street>) Talegaon (65 kms) Þ Chakan (20 kms) ÞManchar (48 kms) Þ Bhimashankar (65 kms). BACKPACKERS You may have to go to Karjat from there take a local three wheeler which reaches you to Khandas. From here you can trek your way to Bhimashankar either from Ganesh Ghat (more safer) or Sidhi (ladder) Ghat. The name represents the peril but all backpackers say the pleasure lies in adventure. You have cross a stream a lush green forest full of medicinal herbs and trees and the view from the top is breath taking. It’s worth the sweat that’s what trekkers say. WARNING There is no road route to Bhimashankar from Karjat. So if you have your own vehicle do not take this route. The Talegoan route is the best. :tongue PLEASANTRIES DURING JOURNEY · The whole journey is full of scenic pleasures and if you are a nature lover you will definitely enjoy the view. :tongue :tongue · Plenty of fuel stations on the way so need not worry if you are running out of fuel. · If you have missed your break fast enjoy lip smacking hygienic famous Vada Pavs (Indian Berger) and Misal pavs (Indian Hot Dogs) at Shree Datta Snacks in Panvel and on the <st1:Street><st1:address>Express Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> too. If you are not too conscious of from where you have your food there are dingy stalls on the way. :tongue · I always mention the ladies toilet facility in all my tour reviews. It may sound funny but regular travelers would appreciate it. There is a ladies toilet at Shree Datta Snacks on the <st1:Street><st1:address>Express Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> and also the HP Fuel Station at the far end of Chakan junction has ladies toilet facility. This toilet was very clean. I enjoyed the whole journey. Friends it was raining incessantly and it was a real pleasure to drive through the ghat. STAY If you are looking out for a long stay, you have the MTDC Resort and also one Hotel by name Blue Mormon. If you are freak, then dharamshalas are there for you. I did not take up any stay facility as we were to return the same day. It was a cool 5.5 hours ride and definitely a pleasant one. There are no SPECIAL parking facilities at the top. Might is the right, applies for parking. FINAL WAY TOWARDS THE <st1:City><st1lace>TEMPLE</st1lace></st1:City> Since it was monsoon, we experienced torrential rains out there too. Umbrellas are not feasible here. We found few village guys selling plastic sheets. Initially, I found it very funny,:-D but when all visitors dawning one sheet I realized this the only way to shield ourselves from the gutsy winds and rain. This plastic sheet covers your head and back. If you are the slim (thin) variety, the sheet would cover your front too. It was great pleasure to walk towards the shrine holding the sheet. On the way towards the shrine, we found stalls with puja thalis lined up right till you reach the shrine. We also found stalls with freshly made pedas. I did not like the taste. No mava so no fun. There were stalls selling medicinal herbs and conches, shells, shiv lings, cassettes, rings, pendants and many other items. SHOE STAND Friends, there is a shoe stand very close to the temple with a man to monitor it. So you need not remove your shoes at the beginning itself. Stood in a queue for around one hour and then came our turn for darshan. Inside we had a very nice darshan. You have many Brahmins issuing receipts for pujas, abhishekams, etc… These are peformed on every day basis and if you want it to be performed on a particular day you can do your bookings. They give you a receipt and send Prasad home. They perform normal puja, maha puja, rudra puja, abhishek, lagu rudra abhishek ( 11 brahmins are involved – no food for them only dakshina) and Maha rudra abhishek - 11 brahmins are offered food along with dakshina. I had a very nice darshan of the Lord. They did not push me away in seconds which usually happens in famous shrines. I booked for a lagu rudra abhishek for Monday and Rudra Abhishek for Shravan Monday. They will be sending Prasad home. My plastic sheet was still on me, protecting me from the cold weather ( I was drenched from front). OPENING AND CLOSING OF THE <st1:City><st1lace>TEMPLE</st1lace></st1:City> The first aarti is performed at <st1:time Hour="5" Minute="5">5.05 a.m.</st1:time> and the last aarti is performed between <st1:time Hour="19" Minute="0">7.30</st1:time> to <st1:time Hour="20" Minute="0">8.00 p.m.</st1:time> The temple closes at around <st1:time Hour="21" Minute="30">9.30 p.m.:wave </st1:time> Inside the temple you have Nandi at the door, Lord Shaneeshwara, Lord Hanuman and budha style carving of Ambe-Ambika. Behind the temple there is Mokshakund where the name itself gives you its significance. PANIC BUTTON After my happy darshan, I went around the temple frantically asking all and sundry for a any ladies cloak room. I could not control my pee. There was a change room for ladies, but, my friends it was so dirty and above all I had already left my shoes at the rack. I cannot take this risk. Now I am chanting my mantras loudly to forget the squeeze. The lady from whom I purchased my puja thali told me that there are no facilities any where around the temple. I asked her, then how does she relieve herself. She told me, out in the open. :goodidea: Ha. Ha. With thousands and thousands of tourists at the place and more and more vehicles approaching I could not find any place. The clouds were hanging down and it was pouring with heavy winds. Every tourist is busy holding his plastic sheet so that it does not fly away and very busy in his own world. We approached our car, I told my friends I am going to relieve here. There are too many vehicles parked here and it is safer. I had no time to think. It is now or never. We girls just took the chance and relived ourselves pump in front of our car. I was right. Nobody saw us. I told you it was pouring. Happy girls….:-D :-D Now time to eat. EATING JOINTS There is a stall on the way to the temple selling some hot stuff like bhajiyas and other items. We thanked our stars for carrying enough food items and water. There are no facilities as such in spite of this place being one of the hottest tourist centres of <st1:country-region><st1lace>India</st1lace></st1:country-region>. OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST BHIMASHANKAR WILD LIFE SANCTUARY This sanctuary spreads into three districts Thane, Pune, Raigad. It is around 130 – 131 approx sq.kms. This sanctuary is the abode of wild boars, deer, sambar, panther, hyena and the famous giant Indian Squirrel. It also holds medicinal herbs and trees like Mango, Jamun, Fern, Bamboo, Hirda etc.. DIMBHE DAM On the way of Manchar – Bhimashankar road you can also locate the Dimbhe Dam. There is <st1lace><st1laceName>Hanuman</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> and Nag Phani hill too. ABOUT THE <st1:City><st1lace>TEMPLE</st1lace></st1:City> Bhimashankar one of the 12 Jyotirlings of India. It is situated on the extreme end of the <st1lace><st1laceName>Sahayadri</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Range</st1laceType></st1lace> of mountains. There is a mention in the literature that Saint Gyaneshwar had visited this temple in the 13<SUP>th</SUP> Century CE. Nana phadnavis built the Shivalaya. The temple has the Nagara style architecture. Shiva took the form of Bhima to kill the Demon Tripurasura and the sweat that dropped from his body after the war emerged as River Bhimarathi. The source of River Bhimarathi merges with River Krishna. The lingam here is ‘SWAYMBOO”. ARTIFACT There is a huge bell inside the temple premises and it belongs to the Portuguese era. PHOTOGRAPHY Strictly prohibited inside the temple ( which is normal now a days). In fact nobody had carried a camera to the temple nor a mobile. Dear friends, it was raining so heavily that there were 100% chances of these gadgets to go under repair forever. Imaging one thin plastic sheet and yourself. Fun na…… WE had left our mobile and watch inside the car itself. We did not dare to carry a camera. I have clicked few pictures of the mind blowing view during our drive. RETURN JOURNEY After our darshan we started our journey home. We had hearty meal halting our car on that high altitude enjoying luxuries green mountains, fields and the valleys, a breath taking view. Our return journey was more relaxed as we knew the road now. The guys worked hard this time to locate a ladies toilet, their neck was sticking out like a giraffe, else, we girls had told them we will just sit next to the car tyre and psssssssssssss……. They located a clean toilet at Chakan junction, One of the best public toilets I have ever visited during my long journey. So clean that my shoe prints were visible on the clean white marble tiles. I looked at myself in the half and full length mirror. The mirror was frightening me. My hair had become thin like broom.. wet, I told you, my liners had washed off, I was looking like one just out of a hospital ward. Never mind. The spirit is high. Rushed out. Even the car a.c. did not help to dry our clothes. We did halt at few places during our return journey and jumped out of the car. The weather was very chill out there, guys happily puffed some cigarettes and we were blowing hot air on our palms to keep us warm. Finally located a neat joint for “Chai”. It helped. We started feeling little better now. Suddenly it started pouring so heavily that we decided not to halt anymore, just keep moving, else we may be caught in jam and spoil our spirit. As we reached <st1:Street><st1:address>Express Highway</st1:address></st1:Street>, Shree Datta Snacks, tempted us to have a nice hot vada pavs (Indian Burger). As we reached near the joint we spotted more than 100 vehicles parked and tourists waiting in long queues to have a bite. We realized that our turn is would be not before an hour. We decided to drive our way toward home. We had chips and biscuits to saturate our hunger. The traffic was smooth all the way inspite of the downpour. We reached home. Happy and satisfied. :2thumbsup: BHAM BOLO BHAM <st1lace>OM</st1lace> NAMAHA SHIVAYA <st1lace>OM</st1lace> NAMAHA SHIVAYA HARA HARA BOLE NAMAHA SHIVAYA HAR HAR MAHADEV BOLENATH KI JAI I hope my review is useful to all my friends out there.