People have been visiting various places to pay their respects to various deities across the world. Tourism has been redefined once again through religious purposes. By the Biblical period, these vital religious centers serve not only an essential constituent of the cultural landscape but have also become major players in local marketing too. Religious travel and tourism have become an important aspect of the industry and all major travel organizations are offering comprehensive packages to clients as well. In the contemporary world, the tourism market has expanded significantly and hence it includes sub-niches that range from luxurious travel plans to backpacking and from religious institutional travel to volunteer-oriented experiences. Traveling on a pilgrimage does not merely refer to visiting a particular destination, but it is also coupled with a humanitarian cause. While people may go to a particular place to worship a specific deity, the travel also has additional attractions. Jejuri is a city in Maharashtra that comes under the Pune district. It is famous for being the abode of Lord Khandoba. This town is popular for being the home to one of the most sacred temples in the state and hence this place is also called as the Khandobachi Jejuri. The Khandoba Temple is situated in the Jejuri town which lies in the south-eastern region of Pune. It is a very popular temple which stands favorite among the tourists for not only its brilliant architecture but also for the legends that are associated with this sacred place of worship.
History and Legend of Khandoba Temple
- According to the legends, the story starts with Aurangzeb attacking the sanctuary amid one of his crusades when he conquered another fort named the Daulat Mangal Fort which is close to this spot. He saw the Jejuri fortress (which was enclosing the sanctuary) post conquering the Daulat Mangal fort. He wanted to conquer the Jejuri Fort too and therefore reached with his armed force to this fort. However, he found that the strong doors were shut. So he needed to break the walls of the fort in order to invade. He then requested to make a hole in the wall by putting an explosive precisely at the spot where the Savalaksha Bhunga lies now.
- At this time, there a large swarm of bees appeared from the hole in quick succession. These honey bees attacked the armed force of Aurangzeb with loud noise by covering every warrior’s body. So the soldiers informed this to Aurangzeb who was completely paralyzed. At this time, a Hindu soldier informed him about the power of Lord Khandoba who is ever watchful to protect his fans. He then recommended that by showing up before the Lord is the only way to resolve the problem. So, Aurangzeb made an offering of One Lakh and a quarter coins to God Khandoba. At the point when the offering was made, the honey bees vanished soon. So Aurangzeb did not know how it happened, but rather understood that God was so intense that he had to bow down before Khandoba.
- Jejuri has additionally been a truly imperative spot as Shivaji met his dad Shahaji here after a long stretch. The meeting is actually very important as both of them talked about the methodologies that can be used against the Mughals. At that period, Jejuri was one of the major hill forts in the southern region.
Significance of the Khandoba Temple
- Khandoba otherwise known as Khanderao, Khanderaya, Malhari Martand and Mallu Khan is a territorial Hindu divinity, revered as Martanda Bhairava, a type of Shiva, mostly in the Deccan level of India.
- The worship of Khandoba started during the 9th and 10th centuries from a folk deity into a composite of God having the qualities of Shiva, Bhairava, Surya and Karttikeya Skanda. He is defined either as a Lingam or as a picture riding a bull or a horse.
- The temple of Khandoba at Jejuri has been built on the top of a small hill. A devotee needs to climb almost 200 steps to reach this holy place.
- It is considered to be among one of the important Gods who is more significantly worshiped by Dhangar, the oldest tribes in Maharashtra.
- Moreover, the pilgrims believe that the Lord Khandoba is also the God of Sakamabhakti i.e. the God who fulfills all the desires of his devotees.
- The competition of handling the sword on Dussera Day is very popular at Jejuri because the participants have to lift the sword high for the maximum time.
- One can without much difficulty, see the view of Saswad and Dive Ghat if the climate stands suitable. The pilgrims can enjoy the number of “Deep Mala “( Light Stands of Stones ) while climbing the slope. Jejuri is truly well known for its old Deep Mala. The sanctuary over the slope is beautiful. Despite the fact that it is a simple temple, yet it still looks lovely. The sanctuary can be partitioned into Mandap and Gabhara. The two bells and icons in the sanctuary are gorgeous.
- The idol of the Khandoba shrine stands equally amazing. There are various weapons like sword, damaru and paral which are historically important. People visit Jejuri to see the crystal stands too.
- Some of the common terms include ‘Khandobacha Yelkot’ and ‘Jay Malhar’. There are many sculptures situated in and around this sacred place of worship.
Khandoba Temple Timings
- The temple remains open for its devotees from 6 A.M. to 8 P.M.
- Devotees can offer prayers at all days in a week.
Khandoba Temple Food Timings
- The temple offers Prasad to the devotees after 2 P.M.
- Pilgrims can also offer Prasad to the deity in the form of fruits and dry sweets.
Festivals celebrated at the Khandoba Temple
- On Dussera, an annual festival is organized on a large scale. Khandoba Palanquin procession is the main event during this occasion. This is carried from the Kadepathar cliff to the main shrine. After the procession, nearly at dawn, a 30 feet Ravanimage is burnt. A fire cracker show is organized and the experience it provides is one of its kinds.
- Mahasivaratri is another event that is celebrated with pomp by the devotees. Pilgrims gather in the temple since early morning and offer pooja to the Lord. People worship throughout the night and sadhus chant hymns.
- Some other festivals that are observed in this temple include Ram Navami, Diwali etc.
Poojas and Rituals of Khandoba Temple
- Abhishek is performed on the Swayambhu Linga in the early morning at 5 A.M.
- The Lord is offered garlands, incense sticks, Bilva leaves, sweets, and fruits. Lamps are lit and the Shiva mantra “OM Namah Shivaya” is recited.
- When a devotee offers milk or water to the Shivalinga, it flows in a particular direction. This sacred water should not be crossed.
How to Reach: Road, Rail, and Air
- By Air- Traveling by air is considered to be the best option for people who want to travel in less time. For such travelers, the Pune Airport is the nearest airport in order to reach the Khandoba Temple. There are cab services available from the airport for commuters.
- By Train- Railways is the backbone when it comes to Indian mode of transportation. Every day there are numerous passengers who travel by train. And, Jejuri can also be reached from any location in India. There are many express and passenger trains that halt at the Jejuri Railway Station. From there, one can hire a taxi or opt for a bus to reach the auspicious temple.
- By Road- For people who love to travel by roads, the Khandoba Temple is easily connected with all the national and state highways. Driving is approx 200 km from Mumbai to Jejuri road. While driving, it is vital that you take the Pune Expressway (drive approx 110km on Expressway) exit to Mumbai Pune Bypass road (drive approx 40km keeping right) then turn left to Angraj road ending in Jejuri road.
Hotels in Maharashtra: Where to stay
There are various kinds of accommodation available for tourists who visit the state of Maharashtra. From luxurious to budget hotels, there are many options for the travelers. The rent of the rooms depends on the one selects. The rooms are generally well furnished and equipped with all modern facilities. Some hotels even have private balconies for guests to retire. It is always advisable to book your hotels in advance if you plan to reside near the Khandoba Temple. There are not many hotels available in that region. For people who love pampering, choose your accommodation that provides personalized spa services. In general, all the leading hotels offer pickup and drop services to the airports and major railway stations for their clients.
Where to eat
Maharashtra cuisine is generally spicy in nature. People in this region prefer vegetarian food but all the international restaurants offer nonvegetarian eating options as well. Some breakfast options that are relished by both the tourists and the natives alike include poha, upma, samosa, and jalebi. Vada pav and Misal pav are distinct to this region. For a more comprehensive meal as lunch, one can either order separate dishes or opt for a Thali system. A Thali basically refers to a complete meal which comprises of rice, roti, dal, vegetables, pickle, dahi, salad and a sweet. And individuals who would prefer to opt for fine dining; there are many leading restaurants that offer international cuisines at a competitive price range. From Mexican to Thai and Italian, there are assortments of options for people who love to gorge on unique dishes every time.
- Aangameshwar Mandir- It is a perfect destination for people who want to plan a pilgrimage tour with your dear ones. World standards, extraordinary architecture, innovative layouts, and well-thought execution make the place a highly coveted point of tourist interest. This temple at Saswad is quite popular among the devotees.
- The Yamai Devi Temple- Itis situated in a hill complex at Pune in Maharashtra. The top of the hill can either be reached by using the steps that begin at the bottom of the hill or by car utilizing a somewhat unsafe road. The icon of Devi Mahishasur Mardini Yamai in black stone is almost around 2 meters high and is in a cross-legged sitting position. The sanctuary is the family place of worship for countless families. The highest point of the sanctuary has pictures and icons of different Hindu gods.
- Vithal Rakhumai Temple- It is the fundamental center of worship for Vitthal, accepted to be a form of Bhagwan Krishna or Vishnu and his consort Rakhumai. It is the most visited sanctuary in Maharashtra. The Warkaris begin walking from their homes to the sanctuary of Pandharpur in gatherings called Dindi to reach on Aashadhi Ekadashi and Kartiki Ekadashi. A dip in the holy river of Chandrabhaga on whose banks Pandharpur lives is believed to wash away all the sins of the devotees. All the devotees are permitted to touch the feet of the idol of Vithoba.
- Rokdoba Hanuman Mandir- It is a famous and popular temple that is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Pilgrims who visit the Khandoba Temple definitely pays a tribute to this shrine as well. It serves as a prominent sightseeing attraction and there is also a Lord Rama temple located nearby this temple. Although visitors throng the temple all around the year but it is during special occasions like Ram Navami and Dussera that the numbers go up. People stand in the queue to offer pooja and seek blessings of the Almighty. There are special poojas that are performed in this temple during that time. The temple remains open on all days in a week.