Saptashrungi – The slayer of demon Mahishasur
The Saptashrungi is a Hindu Temple that in Vani at a distance of about 60 km from Nashik. The temple is situated on a mountain and is one of the most visited and religious places for pilgrims. It is located in Nanduri, Kalwan taluka which is a small village in Nashik. The temple is also popularly known as one of the “three and half Shakti Peethas” of Maharashtra. The temple is also one among the 51 Shakti Peethas located on the Indian subcontinent and is a location where one of Sati’s (first wife of Lord Shiva) limbs, her right arm is reported to have fallen. Shree Saptshrungi Gad is one among the four shaktippetha temple in Maharashtra, other being Mahalakshmi temple Kolhapur,Tuljapur Bhavani Temple, Mahur Gad Devi temple in Mahur. The Devi is said to be swayambhu (self-manifested) on a rock on the sheer face of a mountain. She is surrounded by seven (sapta-in Sanskrit) peaks (shrunga-in Sanskrit), hence the name- Sapta Shrungi Mata (mother of the seven peaks).
The image of the Devi is huge-about 10 feet tall with 18 hands, holding various weapons. The idol is always coated with Sindoor, which is considered auspicious in this region. It is holding the weapons like Strings of Beads Battle Axe, Mace Arrow, Thunderbolt Lotus, Bow Water Pot, Cudgel Lance, Sword Shield, Conch Bell, Wine Cup Trident and Noose Spinning Disc which is known as the Sudarsana Chakra. At the foot of the hill, from where one starts climbing the steps, there is the head of a buffalo, made in stone which is believed to be a demon. The temple, which sort of sticks to the cliff, is 1230 meters above sea level. Saptashrungi is a place where Goddess Bhagawati dwells. It is one of the most important of the places of Goddesses in Maharashtra. There is an old path with steps cut out of the mountain, which starts right at the foothills. However, now, a motorable road has been built, which goes up to an altitude of 1150 meters. From this place one has to climb around 500 steps to reach the shrine and that will take about forty five minutes to reach.
History and Legend of Saptashrungi
- The mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati’s self immolation is said to be the story of origin behind the Shakti Peethas. The mythology says Shakti Peethas were formed due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi. This happened when grief-stricken and agitated Shiva was carrying Sati’s dead body round the world on his shoulders, and Vishnu had cut her body into pieces with his Sudarshana Chakra.
- Shiva traveled around the world and these fifty one body parts of Sati fell at different locations in the subcontinent, and all these places came to be known as Shakthi Peethas (abode of goddess Shakthi or Durga). Her right arm fell on the Saptashrungi hills and the place became holy, and a Shakthi Peeth came to be established here.
- Saptashrung mountain was a part of the forest called Dandakaranya mentioned in the Ramayana. It is mentioned that Lord Rama, along with Seeta, had come here to pray to Amba and seek her blessings. As per the story depicted in Ramayana, Hanuman carried the herbal medicine for wounded Laxmana from this hill. There are about 108 water reservoirs on the hill, known as Kundas.
- Saptashrungi Devi is believed to be Mahishasur Mardini, the slayer of the demon Mahishasur, who took the form of a buffalo. It is believed that the Devi Mahatmya, a sacred book which extols the greatness of Devi and her exploits was composed at this place by the sage Markandeya, who performed rigorous penance on a hill opposite the one on which the Devi resides, which is now named after him.
Significance of the Saptashrungi Temple
- The Holy Flag of Goddess Bhagawati flutters in the north of Saptashringa Garh. Hoisting of the Flag is a privilege of a particular family. The ritual of Flag hoisting on a specific day is witnessed by thousands of devotees. People believe that the Goddess fulfills their wishes. So this place is frequented by devotees throughout the year.
- There are several other shrines close to the Saptashrungi temple. Some of these shrines include Jalagumpha, Kalikund and Suryakund, Shivtirtha, Markendeya Darshan, Tambultirtha and SatichaKada.
- She is also known as Brahmasvarupini (“one who has form of Brahma”). The goddess is reported to have appeared from the kamandalu (water-pot) of the creator-god Brahma. The Goddess is believed to be settled here. As the Goddess took form here and resided at Saptashrungi, it is considered the original location of the Goddess.
Saptashrungi Temple Timings
The temple opens at 6 AM to 6 PM from all days of the week and public holidays. There is an aarti that is performed after that and takes 15 to 20 minutes to take the darshan of the shrine, if you are standing in a queue.
Saptashrungi Temple Food Timings
During the special festivals like Navratri and poornima the food is offered for free.Low cost but clean food is also available in the Priest’s houses. During other days people have to pay a donation of Rs. 15 to get the prasaddam. The timings for it is 11AM to 2PM and 7PM to 9 PM. There are also many restaurants nearby where there are many options present for food.
Festivals celebrated at the Saptashrungi Temple
Gudhipadwa: Gudi Padwa is the festival that augments the new year and is usually celebrated on the first day of the Indian month of Chaitra according to the lunar calendar. The Brahma Purana declares Gudi Padwa to be the time on which Lord Brahma created the world after the great deluge. It is considered as the harvest festival, which shows that the Rabi crop has ended for the season. This is the time when mangoes and fruits are reaped.
Chaitrotsav: The festival starts on Rama Navami (the ninth lunar day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Chaitra) and culminates on Chaitra Poornima (full moon day), the biggest day of the festival.The festival is also attended specifically by childless women making vows seeking blessings of goddess for children.
Gokul Ashtami: Gokul Ashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna. It falls on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of ‘Bhadrapada’ (August-September) and is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. Lord Krishna was born at midnight. Celebrations are held over two days. The first day is Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami. The second day is called Kalastami or more popularly Janmashtami. He is considered to be one of Lord Vishnu’s most glorious incarnations.
Navratri: Navratri is interpreted as ‘nine nights’ is the most celebrated Hindu festival devoted to Goddess Durga symbolizing purity and power or ‘shakti’. Navratri festival combines ritualistic puja and fasting and is accompanied by resplendent celebrations for nine consecutive days and nights. Chanting of mantras and renditions of bhajans and folk songs usually accompany the puja rituals for nine consecutive days of Navratri.
Kojagiri Pournima: Kojagari Lakshmi puja is a worship and praise of Mahalakshmi. We show respect towards Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. During the tradition of kojagari laxmi puja, special offerings are paid to Goddess Lakshmi, the Nine Planets to seek blessings and good fortune for all family members. Another belief is that Goddess Lakshmi was born on Sharad Purnima. Anyone observing this fast avoids solid foods.
Laxmi Pujan: During Diwali, Laxmi Pujan is an important ritual. Goddess Laxmi is invited to the house, and the tradition of cleaning every part of the house is a part of the common ritual. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm among the people in this temple.
Mahashivratri: Mahashivaratri is the day when the Shiva Tattva touches the earth. Shivaratri is like a new year for a saadhak (seeker). It is considered as an auspicious day for spiritual growth and material attainment. People usually eat very light, some fruits or something and fast. There are many poojas and functions organized during this day.
Saptashrungi Temple Pooja and Rituals
Abhisheka: The deity is given bath with warm water before she is dressed for worship. The deity is also decorated with the ornaments on special occasions or festival days. The deity is bathed with panchamruta that consists of the mixture of honey, sugar, milk, yogurt and ghee.
During festivals grain, flowers, coconut, money and ornaments are offered to the deity. Cakes that are made of butter and flour known as turis are also offered.
Gondhal: It is a folk dance drama that is performed by the devotees to the deity the particular communities. The performances are usually held during night with different string instruments. Lots of people gather together to witness the Gondhal.
The Kathar or the Kutadi community after the delivery of child in their family offer the sacrifice of goat followed by the naming ceremony of the child and offer their worship to deity Saptashrungi.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: The Nasik airport is well connected to all the major cities of India and numbers of flights connects it to the nearest airport i.e. Mumbai airport. The major airlines of India that are linked with the airport are Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Indian Airlines, etc. For the development of the airport, the authority is planning to invest some more money for international flight setup.
By Train: There is a very good connectivity between Mumbai to Nashik Road railway station. There are trains which can be boarded from different railway stations in Mumbai as per our convenience like CST, Dadar, Thane and all trains stop at Kalyan. One of the benefits in opting for rail journey is one can save some time on journey, it takes only 4 hours to reach Nashik Road. From Nashik Road one has to go to Nashik central Bus stand (CBS) to catch a direct bus to mataji temple.
By Road: Reach Nashik and take Taxi or Bus from Nashik City to Vani. You can go by your private vehicle at the top of nanduri gad nashik. The route from Nashik and Vani via Dindori is 39 kilometres and via Pimpalgaon Baswant is 51 kilometres .The route via Nadurgaon village is the easiest and is 14 kilometres from Vani. The State Highway 17 (Maharashtra) (SH-17) connected with the National Highway 3 (NH 3) links Nashik with the temple site near the villages of Vani and Nanduri. Bus facilities by state transportation are available to reach the temple.
Hotels in Vani: Where to stay
There are different hotels in Nashik as well as dharmashala available to stay with good facilities.
- Dharmashala:For a night’s halt, Dharmashala having 200 rooms is available which is open from 6:00 in the morning to 11:00 in the night. The rooms are made available for one day only. Blankets and mattresses are made available for the pilgrims.
- Aakar Lords Inn: Nasik Road | Dist. Dang, Saputara 394720, India
- Vaity Ropeway Resort: Dist. Dang, Saputara 394 720, India
- Chitrakoot Hill Resort: Saputara 394720, India
- Uttam Hira Hotel: Panchavati Chambers, Old Market Yard Road | Peth Road, Dindori Naka, Panchavati, Nashik 422003, India
- Hotel Midtown Inn: Plot no 34, Krushna Nagar, Trimbakeshwar, Nashik 422212, India
- Hotel Panchvati: 430, Chandak Vadi | Near M.G. Road, Nashik 422001, India
- Hotel Sai Palace: 904 Agra Road, Nashik 422 009, India
- Hotel Emerald Park: Sharanpur Link Road, Nashik 422002, India
- Ginger Nashik: Plot No P 20 (Part), Trimbakeshwar Road | Near Satpur MIDC Police Station,Nashik, India.
Kalaram Temple: This temple is situated in the Panchavati area of the city. It is the biggest as well as the simplest amongst all the temples situated here and dates back to the year 1790, when it was constructed by Sardar Odhekar of Peshwa. Besides the idol of Lord Rama, are those of Sita Mata and Lord Lakshmana, both of them sandy black and adorned with ornaments. The temple has been constructed completely out of black stones and four entrance doors. It is probably the most important Hindu shrine in the city.
Sita Ghufa: Sita Gufa (cave) is the place where Sita is believed to be kidnapped by Ravan. It is said that she was resting here before the demon Ravan came and tricked her and eventually abducted her. There is a staircase which leads to Shiv Linga, which is the exact place people believe Ravan abducted Sita from.
Trimbakeshwar: Trimbakeshwar temple is a religious center having one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is its three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra. There is a mountain named the Brahmagiri Mountain 18 km. from the city of Nasik in the Nasik district. This is one of the parts of the Sahyadri Vally. The city of Trimbakeshwar is located in the bottom of this mountain.
Someshwar: Someshwar Temple is one among the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Mahadeva, the Someshwar temple is situated on the banks of the sacred river Godavari. The area is covered with greenery, with a pleasant climate. The riverbeds here are very suitable for swimming and boating.