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Old 4th October 2010, 17:17   #1
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Default Vesta Tours and Travels: Samartha Sthapit Eleven Maruti in one day!

We had this tour in mind for a long time. Perhaps more than a year or so. Last Saturday, the opportunity presented itself, and we grabbed it fully.These eleven Marutis (Hanuman Idols) were set by Saint Ramdas Swami around 440 years ago. They are considered as one of the religious circuit of Maharashtra. Even though we are not particularly religious, the sheer historical luminance around the name pulled us towards it. But as usual, the last minute planning went heywire right in the middle, and that's precisely where the fun began, and we ended up visiting all eleven Marutis in one day!

Travelogue to follow...

A picture for now: At the first Maruti, called Khadi cha Maruti, which incidently was visited last due to our route

The three devotees: Me, wifey and Vesta

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Old 4th October 2010, 18:28   #2
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It was somewhere in early 2009 that I saw a booklet by some travel company, advertising their tours. I love such books, they give you ideas to plan the next tour. In that book, I stumbled upon ‘Samartha Sthapit akara maruti tour’ (Eleven Marutis by Samartha Ramdas Swami). This was the first time I ever heard the name. Intrigued, I started searching it online, and asking few friends about it. But apart from a few instances, there was hardly anything solid on internet. Many of the people whom I asked had no idea about it. It was hard to believe that a religious circuit that is in Maharashtra for more than 400 years is still unknown to many, and for someone like me who wants to visit, the guidance is scarce. The only information I managed to gather is, they are around Satara and Karad.

Then the idea of visiting them got subdued in work. Slowly, I forgot about it completely, till recently. Last Friday, Nandinee called me from work in evening.

“I have to go to Karad tomorrow, a small work, but I have to be present there.”
“Oh. OK.”. The picture of yet another Saturday spent alone lying at home was somehow not exciting to my mind.
“Hey, how about we do motorcycle tour to Kaas plateau?”

That was certainly a good thinking. Kaas plateau attracted us for long, for its wild flowers blooming in this season. Also, we could also do the eleven Maruti circuit, as they spread around Satara and Karad. This seemed like a perfect God given plan, as Nandinee wouldn’t have to lose a leave, and we’d got to tour as well. Also, it was intriguing, that we were going to visit Samartha Ramdas Swami’s place, like we did in our last years’ ride to Konkan and Shivthar ghal. (Gandhi Jayanti Weekend ride to Konkan)

I started frantically searching Internet for information on the Marutis, in the hope that after 1.5-2 years, there would be many blogs on the circuit. Surprisingly, the situation was not much changed! Very few sites with information, and that to scattered. Jotted down the points from those sites, and decided that after this tour, I will upload a proper tour plan for this circuit, so that the next pilgrim will have a proper help online.

The packing was done in jiffy, as it was hardly two days trip. The upper rain wear were pushed in the tankbag at the last moment on my insistence. “There is no rain for so many days!” argued Nandinee, but I stood my ground. Little did we know how useful they would be in next 2 days!

We started at around 8 am from home. The event from Katraj ghaat was uneventful, but surprising devoid of any flowers. Last year, at this time the ghaat was all flowery, and romantic. This year, I couldn’t spot any color in the scenery other than grassy green! Had a quick bite on a roadway hotel named Amruta hotel. Lot of girls were there, seemingly from some all girls college. While having breakfast there, I saw some even posed around Vesta for photographs. Sighing about lost opportunities after marriage, I proceeded to focus on breakfast alone.

We reached Karad at around 12-12.30, maintaining constant speeds of 80-90 KMPH. Started inquiring in hotels for a doubles room, but suddenly all hotels seemed to be all full! I wondered who the hell ends up in Karad on a weekend, excepting some souls misguided by their wives. In a hotel named hotel Sagar, we were turned away similarly, and I have had enough of this. I asked the manager there:

“This is a family hotel right?”
“Family means husband, wife … “
“and kids, yes.”
“But we are husband and wife!”

Apparently, he thought there was no way a husband and wife could come on a bike all dressed up in motorcycling gear. It has to be a runaway couple!

“Are you kidding me? Who the hell comes to Karad to have an affair! I could've gone to Mahabaleshwar on route or any other place if I wanted to have a illegal romantic weekend. What kind of an animal skips those places and comes here? What do you suppose….”
“Alright, here are your keys!”

He shoved the keys in my hand and was quite relieved to have gotten over the awkward conversation. Running, we changed in more civilized clothes, and went to court for Nandinee’s work.

The plan was perfect. The work would get over in half, max an hour. Then we would have a nice meal and would visit the four Marutis around Karad. Rest in night, and would leave early next morning for Satara. We would visit the remaining 7 Marutis on way to Satara before lunch, and would have lunch in Satara. Then after visiting Kaas plateau and lake, would leisurely start at 5 and end up at doorstep by 8.

As will all carefully drafted plans, this one went haywire. The max one hour’s work took the whole damn day! Hours rolled by, and I kept thinking to myself.

“2 PM, OK, we can start at 2.30 and can return by 6.”
“3 O clock, still we can start at 3.30 and return by 7.”
“4 O clock, damn, hope we can start ASAP!”

Then at 4.45 PM, rain gods turned up the volume and washed all Karad, thoroughly dampening the streets along with my spirits and hopes to visit any of the Marutis today. Finally, at around 6PM the work got over. Making a mental note to myself that ‘never plan on promises’, we started working on plan B. We could visit the 4 Marutis tomorrow, and rest 7 day after tomorrow. But this would extend a day, meaning a day’s leave. Besides, we were not packed for more than 1 night. For single guys thinking what could be possibly different in one night packing and two nights packing, just take my word for it, you will realize it after marriage. A hint: Women’s tolerance level for lack of hygiene is lot less than men’s.

This left with only one choice, do all the 11 Marutis in one day, and return home on the same night. The thought was exciting for me, to ride so much in one day (except that my tashreef wouldn’t be too happy afterwards). So that was the confirmed plan, atleast for then.

For the evening, we went to a place called Manore (meaning towers), and then Sangam, where two rivers meet (river A and river B, sorry my geography sucks to the core). The road to Manore goes through busy streets of Karad, where many Ganpati mandal’s were competing against each other as to which one breaks the sound barrier hardest. Being from Pune, I didn’t find that hard to adjust to. Finally reached the towers. They are no more that towers that are part of a big gate to a Masjid. Stood and watched them for a while, then after starting to get stares of suspicion from surrounding public, rolled away to Sangam.

Now this Sangam has a very well maintained garden named after Yeshwantrao Chavan (former CM of Maharashtra). We first went near to the river sangam. When we were approaching the sangam, Nandinee exclaimed.

“Look! Ganesha idols!”

Ganpati visarjan was not on that day, it was already 2-3 days ago. Where could she possibly see Ganesha idols?

“See there, lying in the water.”

There, I saw one of the most heart-churning sight ever. Many Ganesha idols, atleast a 100, were lying in the water, clearly visible because the water level had gone down. Some lying face down, some with broken hands and heads, and some still sitting (or made to sit) upright sank halfway, as if given a death sentence. Some overly religious people were going in the river to throw the ‘holy waste’, the Nirmalya into the rivers. The fact that they were stepping on the very same Ganesha idols that they worshipped 3 days ago didn’t matter, neither were they of any two thoughts when they drank the lead filled water of the same spot as teertha. What is it in religion and ceremonies that make people lose common sense?

Ganpati is my most favourite god. It may seem childish, but even since I remember, Ganesh is ‘my’ God, the one I feel special bond, the one I truly love. There lied hundreds of Ganesha idols, swinging in the current, getting crushed by feets of worshippers and boats, awaiting the countless days till they turn to sand, or atleast to some non-recognizable shape. The river resembled the scene in Lord of the rings, where Frodo sees dead people in the lake. Except here there were idols of God.

It stirred up many questions in my mind. And on many levels too. Some are:

1. Previously, when the idols were made of Shaadu, sand from river, and with natural colors, they used to dissolve very quickly. Then, plaster of paris became de facto standard for idol making, primarily because it can be molded sharply as well as it was more economic. But it screwed the nature’s balance completely.

2. Was it economic? 10 days ago, the combined cost of all these idols, assuming 500rs per idol x 100 idols was 50,000 rs. This is least possible figure, where the real figure can go well above 1 Lakh. Now the value of these idols was a big zero, and rather negative, if we consider the cost that has to be paid for cleaning up. Isn’t this economically wrong?

Stirred, we went to the garden. It is located at a strategic point from the sangam, and is maintained very nicely. We sat there for about 1.5 – 2 hours just chatting. It was surprising for both of us to realize so much time went. The day in Karad was well spent simply by this chat time.

Then began hunt for a good restaurant. We saw a sparkling new ‘Virangula’ hotel very near to the park. When we went inside, a waiter instructed us:

“Please remove your shoes and go inside.”

What? Is this some kind of a theme restaurant?

We went inside, where there was a room with few people sitting, and a Satyanarayan Puja was done there.

“Please do the darshan and have prashad.”

Had we walked in some house by mistake? What was all this? Then the person there replied, revealing the mystery:

“Sir, today is the first day of this hotel, we are opening just now. Hence the Puja”

We took the prashad and sat on a table. We were actually hungry, and all the hotel had on that day were ice creams. But it would be very rude and perhaps would be assumed unlucky by the hotel owner if the customers walked out on the first day! So had two ice creams to keep the manager’s heart. The ice creams turned up to be quite good actually! Hope the next time I visit Karad, the Virangula hotel is grown bigger, and started serving some eatables too!

Later, the day ended with uneventful dinner and rest. Next day, we would start as early as possible to make a big trip to home.

I am really sorry for zero pictures for today, blame it on my laziness and the rains in the evening. This is a trailer of what was awaiting tomorrow, a day full of riding through farms and country roads, going on the quest to visit all eleven Marutis in one day:

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Old 4th October 2010, 22:26   #3
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Welcome back Ani and Nandinee. Been a while since I went crazy reading your rajasthan trip. Now this looks really promising too!
But boss, I have a grievance here. Neither you folks nor Chevy_lover (not seen any post from him too for a while) join us in Pune meets.
I was wondering where you folks vanished during our kaas trip.
Looking forward to reading your log and catching up with some great photos.
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Old 4th October 2010, 22:30   #4
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Only thing I heard from CL, was he did quite many short ones. but none of them were of the "Incredible" Class! Check out his long term ownership thread.
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Old 5th October 2010, 10:49   #5
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nice logue on different travel route.
@AKRA MARUTI, you have not placed the name of Dhabyacha Maruti at Sajjangad which is part of 11 maruti.[ correct me].
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Old 5th October 2010, 12:23   #6
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Thanks for the encouragement guys ASHISHPALLOD: The Sajjangadh maruti is NOT a part of 11 Maruti circuit. This is confirmed many times by the posters in the Maruti temples. The sequence I gave in first photo is the proper sequence the circuit is meant to be done (we didn't stick to the sequence, but still!)
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Old 5th October 2010, 15:18   #7
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This is a good piece of information. I never know about this 11 Hanuman idols. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 13th May 2011, 14:50   #8
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Default Re: Vesta Tours and Travels: Samartha Sthapit Eleven Maruti in one day!

Day 2:

We woke up early, and surprising even us, we were ready to roll at 7.15 a.m. The road was wet by yesterday’s rain. The first stop of the day was Bahe Maruti. We rolled on, stopping to ask directions from time to time. The roads soon left Karad city, and entered beautiful country roads. We road through tall crop and dumpy roads, with very sparse traffic. First came Islampur, and a left turn short ahead, then a right a few kms ahead, then realized we should have taken left at the last turn itself… it was as if we entered in a maze. But the atmosphere was beautiful. Suhana safar, suhana humsafar, I wasn’t minding the slow twisting journey at all.

Finally, after riding for about 30 kms, we passed a bridge, entering Bahe. Started looking for any sign of temple. Since the temples are more than 400 years old, we assumed they would be pretty big entity now, easy to spot. We were proved wrong about 8 out of 11 times today!

When we asked a person on road about the temple, he told us that the temple was at the bridge which we passed! Wondering how we could miss a big temple, we took U turn, and proceeded to the bridge. There we came to know, that this temple was located on an island! There is a proper footbridge connecting the island to land through the river. The foot bridge is accessible from both sides of the main bridge, one way on foot, and other way through vehicle. We tried first by the foot-approach, but the bridge seemed too long to walk.

Being a lazy bum, I obviously chose the vehicle entry point. Crossed the bridge again, and entered the area below from the other side, this time on bike.

Once more, fate had its laugh, where I fumbled through hard steep decline and slipped away many times to the start of the bridge, finally to find it closed to all kinds of vehicles! Parked Vesta there, and proceeded to walk our way to the temple.

We didn’t know that time, being the first temple that we were covering, but this is the best maintained temple of all the 11 ones. Bahe Gram Panchayat has really worked well to maintain this island as a thing of beauty. There is even a Helipad at most scenic location possible. May be I will go next time by Helicopter!

The campus is huge. The island is truly an island with river all around it, and only connecting way is the foot bridge. This seems to be a newly constructed bridge, we can see the remains of the old foot bridge around.

This temple took about 1 hour, including getting Vesta down and back up from the steep route, and walking to the temple and back. If each temple would take so much, I wondered how we could cover all 11 temples in one day. However, this was a futile worry, as all other temples except one are located on the way.

Our next stop was 32 Shirale. Here at Bahe, we met the first man who knew about the 11 marutis. When we asked him directions, he told ‘go towards west, and cross highway, there is 32 Shirale’. Me and Nandinee both invariably looked skywards to find sun, to know what direction is west! Pretty unique way to tell directions! We proceeded as told, crossed the big highway, and finally following street signs and intuitions, finally landed in 32 Shirale.

We asked a couple of rickshaw owners at the stand:

‘Where is the Samartha Sthapit Hanuman temple?’
‘There it is!’
‘See behind you, it’s just behind that house.’

It was visible from the main road, but was pretty hard to spot. I found the temple to be not as well maintained as one would hope it would be. It is a stone temple, and grass and wild plants were growing from its walls. We found a sneak entry from left hand of the temple, and had to use it as the main entry was closed. The Hanuman idol was smiling at us.

There I found this first map of the 11 Maruti route. This helped a good deal in deciding the next path.

We had quick breakfast in a small hotel just outside the temple, and headed for the next stop: Pargaon.

The route is as confusing as can be, and simply futile to recollect and rewrite. We actually nick named the Pargaon Maruti as U turn Maruti, as we had to take record breaking U turns for visiting the temple. Pargaon Maruti too, is located bang in the town. It is well maintained temple.

Next stop: Manpadale. Also called as Mandapale, maybe a local abbreviation. Both Pargaon and Manapadale marutis are hardly few kms apart. The temple is located bit inside the village.

From Manapadale, we joined the NH4 highway to head back to Karad. Here the rains smiled upon us. It started raining cats and dogs, and with our bright minds, we hadn’t brought the rain pants. So chilled from waist down, I kept on riding. We could see the clear sky ahead towards Karad, and dark cloudy sky above us. There was no point in waiting for the rain to subside, and it seemed wise to race against the rain and run towards the dry area. And race we did! Sticking the needle at 70KMPH, Vesta rode like a horse, and brought us back safely to dry plains. Here I observed an interesting thing. When the highways are laid, four wheelers and trucks travel in lanes, on same tyre paths. The two outer lines in each lane where the tyres actually meet the road, are bit pressed inside the road. When it rains hard and water starts flowing on the road, it inevitably seeps in the carved in lines, and whenever a car passes you by, huge waves of water jump at you. After getting clueless thorough soaking, the wet sharp mind finally deduced the sunken roads caused by the constant travelling of cagers.

We reached Karad at around 1.00pm, an hour late than the check out time. But the kind soul at the checking counter didn’t mind, and after a filling lunch, we were packed and on the road at 2.30p.m.
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Old 13th May 2011, 14:51   #9
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Default Re: Vesta Tours and Travels: Samartha Sthapit Eleven Maruti in one day!

There is a road from Karad that leads us to Masure. The road is in good condition, and one can easily do 60-70 KMPH safely on this road. There is another big temple in the Masure village, but we continued inside to go to the Samartha Sthapit temple.

Here we faced little confusion. Based on some wrong info, we thought Masure was first and Shahapur later. It was the other way round. Shahapur is some 3 kms before Masure. So took a U turn, and went to Shahapur.

Shahapur’s Maruti Temple is the located at a beautiful location, overlooking the river below. The gates were closed, but as with all other Maruti temples, a humble request specifying the photo purpose opened up the gates to God.

Later, we joined the speedy NH4 again. Few kms ahead came Umbraj. From Karad to Satara, at Umbraj, there is one temple on right and four on left. The temple at right is in Umbraj itself, called ‘Mathatil Marutil’. This math too is a small house looking building, easily hidden in the mazes of the villages. Rain tried to catch us here, but we dodged into the temple in time. A group of elderly ladies was amused by the sudden presence of space rangers between them.

Crossed NH4 to head to the other side to visit last 4 temples. First was at Majgaon. While going towards Chaafal, you will come across the board ‘Majgaon’. Take the small road towards right. The first building on your left constructed on a platform is the temple. You can’t miss it even if you wanted to. There was no one in this temple, and sadly not even a donation box. Had to press the donation notes deep inside the locked gabhara.

Next stop: Chafal. This was the headquarters of Samartha Ramadas Swami. Out of 72 years life, he spent 32 years here and few years on Ram Bet, the island we visited at Bahe. Here, while enquiring about the Samartha Maruti, we faced a unique confusion. People here were confidently stating that there is only one temple of Samartha Maruti in Chaafal. But then the day’s count would be ten, not eleven. The people that were telling us this were localities, staying there for many years. Finally, Maruti himself solved the confusion, when we found the list of Marutis in the Veer Maruti temple.

There is a big Ram temple in Chaafal, enshrined by Samartha Ramdas swami himself. In front of that temple, there is a Maruti idol placed in a Namaskar pose, facing the idols. This is one of the 11 Maruti idols. It’s a wonder how the localities don’t consider this as one of the 11 temples!

One day, Samartha Ramdas Swami had a vision that there was a Ram idol lying at Angapur. He went there, and found the idols in the riverbed. But the villagers protested that the idols belong to them, and hence be installed there only! Samartha placed the idols then and there returned to Chafal. The idols couldn’t be moved an inch by the villagers. Finally they came to Samartha and seeked forgiveness. The idols were then brought here.

There was a big earthquake here in December 1967, where most of the temple was damaged. A businessman donated to the temple fund, and this new temple is created at the same place.

Way to Samartha’s Gunfa for meditation. It was impossible for me to get in because of all the motorcycle gear I was wearing.

There was one last temple remaining, Shinganwadi. As ironic as it may get, this is the first temple of the series to get constructed. Shivaji Maharaj met Samartha Ramdas here. It was around 5.30 that we were at the base of the hill where the temple is located. Motorcycles are said to be able to go up, but soon the roads became too bad to take any risk. The whole ride to home was still remaining, so I parked Vesta halfway on the hill, and walked thereon.

A small temple welcomes you on the hilltop.

A strange feeling filled our minds after we stepped out of the temple. A task that was so randomly placed in the mind in past, had finally been accomplished in a grand way. 11 Marutis in one day. Not in our wildest plans, not even in the worst of the worst case scenarios did I consider we might have to do this route in one day. Though a journey of 175 kms was still waiting, and the body was tired by the already done 100 kms ride, we were filled with happiness. Was this what they call as spiritual bliss? That you achieve a thing you wanted in the wildest way possible? Whatever it was, it was great.

We spotted this colony of nests that are called ‘Sugrani cha khopa’ in Marathi. A whole colony was blooming on the green tree. The birds were returning to their homes, after a day of little adventures. And so were we, after having a little adventure of our own.

The journey back was uneventful, if we decide to omit the repetitive description of cars trying to run you over! I wonder what goes in the making of a car that turns a man (or woman in worst case) into a monkey with accelerator and horn. The HID installed on Vesta saved us countless times, and save a little stop to relive and have a quick snack, we rode the journey continuously. Finally touched base at 9.30 p.m.

Last edited by ani_meher : 13th May 2011 at 15:09.
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