The desire to see the grandeur of the Ganesha pandals made me travel to Pune early this month. During my stay, I made it a point to visit the landmarks of the city that exemplifies the Marathi heritage and culture. And that is how I was at one of the most popular and ancient religious destinations in Maharashtra, the Chattushringi temple. Preparations for Sharad Navarathri were already in full swing at the temple that sees more than a lakh footfalls every day through the nine days of the festival.
Situated on the slope of a hill, the temple spreads across four peaks (chattu means four). Built during the reign of Maratha king Shivaji, more than 100 steps lead to this 90 ft high and 125 ft wide temple.
The main attraction during the Navarathri celebration is the village-style mela (fair). A few years ago, the temple authorities introduced ‘murti yatra’, when flowers are showered from a helicopter before the Dussehra procession.
The goddess, a swayambhu (self-manifested), is also called Ambareshwari. It is said that the idol was dug out from the mountain.
The goddess appeared in the dreams of a moneylender and an ardent devotee Durlabsheth Pitamberdas Mahajan and guided him to this place in north-west Pune, where the temple stands today, to find her idol. Originally in black stone, it has now been painted in saffron.
The temple symbolises shakti. A sense of calm prevails over its vast premises that is surrounded by lush greenery. The arch at the entrance is made of brick red and white stones. As you enter, there is a temple for Ganesha on the left. There are also eight miniature idols of Ganesha (Ashtavinayaka) situated on four hillocks.
Plans are on to add more amenities for the visiting devotees. May be in a few years time, we will get to see a revamped Chattushringi temple, which vies for attention along with the many forts and palaces in the region.