Ekvira Aai Temple
Of the many temples in Maharashtra, the Ekvira Aai Temple is one of the most popular and magnificent temples that contribute to the customs and ethnicity of the country. This is also one of the most famous cave temples in India. The Ekvira Temple is the centre of worship for the Aagri Koli people. The Goddess Ekvira is the supervising deity for the Aagri Koli people. The temple is situated in the Karla caves which are about six kilometers from Lonavla and is also termed as the Koli temple. This is because the shrine of the temple is mostly visited by the people of the Koli community. However, apart from the people of the Koli community, the temple is also visited by people from all over the world.
The Ekvira Temple complex has three similar chambers and it originally consisted of these three shrines facing west. Of these shrines, the central and southern shrines are conserved and the rest of the structures are conserved only on plan.
History and Legend of Ekvira Temple
As per the legend, the temple was constructed by the Pandavas during their banishment period in the forest, aranyavasam. At the first instance, when Pandavas visited this holy place, Ekvira Mata appeared in front of them. Goddess Ekvira then instructed them to build a temple for her. Following that, in order to scrutinize the Karya diksha which means the work ethic of the Pandavas, the Goddess laid a condition before them and commanded them to complete the construction over night. The Pandavas were so dedicated towards their work that they indeed completed the construction of the beautiful temple overnight. With this dedication and uttermost devotion of the Pandavas, Goddess Ekvira was impressed by their Bhakti i.e., devotion and blessed them. She also granted them a boon that they would not be determined by anybody during their secret exile also known as ajnatavasam. It is also believed that according to Hindu mythology, the Goddess Ekvira is an incarnation or avatar of Renuka Devi.
The carbon dating states that the shrines were developed over two periods, that is from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD and from the 5th century AD to the 10th century AD. The Aai Ekvira Goddess is the Kul-Devi of the Koli and Sunar Communities.
Significance of the Ekvira Aai Temple
- The presiding deity of the temple Goddess Ekvira Aai is considered to be the family deity for the Agar Koli people.
- The temple complex consists of three similar chambers which are constructed in a row facing in the west direction.
- The middle and southern chambers are preserved in full and rest of the structures are conserved only in a single part.
- Hamandapa, Varshamandapa, and Gopura are positioned in front of the three chambers and these three sanctums are covered by sixteen sanctums.
- The Mahamandapa, Varshamandapa, and Gopura are located in front of these three shrines.
- The most significant feature of the temple is that one has to climb 500 steps to reach the temple.
- This temple is also enclosed by Karala caves which are preserved by the Archaeological Department.
- The sacrifice ritual is important because the Koli community is of the opinion that sacrifice ritual has the propensity to pacify the Goddess and she keeps them protected from harm and evil.
- Temple Jogesvari Devi is located to the left of Ekvira Temple . There is also a temple positioned for the holy feet of the Goddess halfway down the hill.
Festivals celebrated at the Ekvira Temple
- The major festivals celebrated at the Ekvira Temple are the Navrathri and Chaitra festivals.
- Innumerable number of visitors visit the temple every year on these occasions to offer their prayers and adorn the supervising deity
- The Navrathri festival is celebrated for nine days.
- Besides the navrathri celebration, a fair takes place every year in front of the temple complex from Asvin Suddha Pratipada to Dasami for nine days.
- Chaitra festival is also another significant festival and is celebrated every year with all the zeal and devotion.
Ekvira Aai Temple timings
- The Ekvira Temple is open on all days for pilgrims and visitors to offer their worship to the deity.
- The temple opens at 5:00AM in the morning and closes at 12:00 PM in the noon.
- And in the evening hours, the temple opens at 4:00PM and closes at 9:00 PM.
How to Reach : Road , Rail, Air
By Road : Direct buses are always available from Mumbai and Pune to Lonavala, so one can easily reach Ekvira Temple from any of these routes.
By Rail : Lonavala is the nearest railway station to reach Ekvira temple. The following trains are available on everyday basis and are direct routes to Ekvira Temple:
Mumbai-Pune Deccan Express
Mumbai –Pune Deccan Queen
Mumbai-Pune Pragati Express
Mumbai-Pune Sihangad Express
Mumbai-Pune Indryani Express
By Air : The nearest airports to reach Ekvira Temple are Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and Pune airport.
Where to stay
There are end number of lodging facilities in and around the Ekvira Temple. Some of the nearest logding facilities are available at:
- The Lagoona Resort
- Hotel La Exotica
- Avion Holiday Resort
- Rishikesh Resort
- Hotel Chandralok
- Citrus Resort
- Lions Den Hotel
- The Dukes Retreat
- Fariyas Resort
- Sahil Sarovar Portico
- Hotel Rajnigandha
- Kailash Parbat
- Bijis Hill Retreat
- Purohit Holiday Resort
Apart from these resorts and holidays, several other reasonable logdes are also available nearby the Ekvira Temple.
Where to Eat
There are numerous reasonable restaurants in and around Ekvira Temple with multiple cuisines. Some of them are: Sri Krishna Restaurant, Deepak Restaurant, Bisco, Rupam Chikki, Navratna Chikki, Mittal Residency, Creme Della, Gaming Street, Carbon Cafe, Cafe 24, Kailash Parbat Restaurant, Tavern, Junifer, Sunrise Chikki, Nationalk Chikki Mart, Kamat’s Green House,Rupam Chikki, Tomato’s Grab it your way, Dakshin Express, Frontier, Pasta and More, Chat Cafe, Delicious Delights, Arrmada Tapas Bar, Red Bonnet American Diner, Roberto’s Food Coaster, Rajwada, Dhaba, Kareem’s, Cream Centre.
- Shree Narayani Dham Temple : This is one of the most popular and most visited temples of Lonavala. The work of the Nrayani Dham Temple began with “Bhumi Pujan” on 9th Feb 2000 and the construction of the temple commenced on 17th May 2000. The construction work began under the helpful supervision of Shri Mahendra Mittal, Shri Ramesh Patodiya, Shri Shyam Goyal and Shri Mukesh Patodiya. After the successful construction of the temple, the function of Pran Pratistha was also known as Murti Sthapana commenced with a huge mammoth of the procession on 14th Feb 2002. The ceremonial tradition of Pran Pratistha was executed as per vedic rituals by the famous Shri Govindacharya Dixit from Varanasi. The most applaud worth thing about the temple is that the temple trust also embarks on diverse projects with regard to social cause. One such instance is that during severe drought situation in Rajasthan, the temple trust donated quite a good amount of money in order to arrange food for cows. An astonishing fact about the temple is that more than 300 people have the propensity to visit the temple every day.
- Bhairavnath Temple : This temple is considered to be one of the most famous attractions for pilgrims and visitors and is also one of the sacred places of the hill station. This temple is solely dedicated to Lord Bhairava who is believd to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple is positioned in a dense forest area and becomes the hub of tourist attraction during the ceremonial festival of Mahashivratri where numerous visitors visit the temple and offer their prayers. Bhairava also known as Kala Bhairava is a Hindu deity and is often addressed as a stern demonstration of Lord Shiva associated with obliteration. Lord Bhairava started off in Hindu legends and is consecrated to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains similarly. Temples of other Hindu deities are also present in the premises and the architecture of the temple is similar to other Shiva shrines of the Konkan region.
- Koli Temple : Koli temple is regarded as one of the most sacred places of the hill station and is solely devoted to the Goddess of fishermen community who belong specifically to the lonavala and its enclosing region. The Goddess here is believed to possess supernatural powers and hence forth is regarded to be the supreme authority by the community here. The temple itself is believed to have been established by the people of the Koli community baically the Koli tribe of fishermen and is particularly positioned to the exterior of the main chaitya of Karla caves.
- Shree Bhawani Waghjai Temple : This is a Hindu temple and is as famous as the rest of the temples of Maharashtra. This temple is devoted to the Goddess Bhawani and Goddess Waghjai and the temple was constructed around 1860. One interesting fact about the temple is that the government of Maharashtra has declared this temple to be one of the tourist spots of the state. The temple is 123 feet in length and 76 feet in width on the south side and 36 feet on the north side. Apart from Goddess Bhawani and Goddess Waghjai, the temple is also considered to be the abode of Goddess Kalkai, Goddess Navdurga, and Lord Shiv Shankar respectively. This temple is believed to have been constructed by ancestors 350 years ago and it was first rebuilt in 1839. Over the years, the temple has undergone various changes which compelled the villagers to decide upon constructing a new temple in its place. The statue of the presiding Goddess Bhawani is of 9 feet in height and is made of black stone. The idol of the Goddess appears magnificent and decorous with the diverse weapons in her hands which give a picture of the Goddess slaying the demon. Apart from being splendid in itself, the temple also consists of seven gardens with a huge semicircular garden on the east side and the temple also consist of a huge forest with end number of trees which adds on to the beauty of the temple and the areas surrounding the temple.