Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Day in Banganga - A Photoblog

We used to visit Walkeshwar temple complex in the 60s during the Hindu month of Shravan (July-August)  and spend some time around Banganga tank. However, after shifting to Borivali, a distance suburb of Mumbai in 1970, we discontinued our annual visits to Walkeshwar. Last week, I got an opportunity to visit Walkeshwar temple complex during December 24-25, to attend some religious functions at Kashi Math, located at the western side of the Banganga Tank. This was my first visit after a gap of 40 years and except the high rise buildings in the vicinity of Banganga and refurbishing of some old buildings on its banks,  things have remain more or less the same as witnessed by me in the 60s. 

I revisited the place the next day morning laced with my camera and spent almost an hour on the Banganga steps followed by walks on the alleys around the tank.   The place reminded me of Varanasi ghat like atmosphere. 

Some of the pictures taken during my visit to Banganga have been uploaded here with captions. 

Banganga Tank view from the main entrance. The tank is rectangular in shape with stone steps on all its  four sides. The tank was constructed in 12th century by Silhara dynasty who ruled the present day Mumbai-Thane region between 9th and 13 th centuries. The tank was rebuilt in 1715 out of the donation given by Rama Kamath. Despite the mushrooming of  high rise buildings around the tank, the place still retains its traditional ambience. 

Two ancient deep stambhs ( towers of oil lamps) at the main entrance to Banganga Tank. The tank is fed by a perennial spring. Legend says that Lord Rama who was searching Sita, stopped at this place out of fatigue and thirst and asked his brother Laxman to fetch him some water. Laxman shot an arrow into the ground and water gushed from the ground which supposedly came from an underground offshoot of river Ganga.  It is said that the Banganga tank water has some healing properties and is considered as holy as Ganga river.

The western side of the Banganga Tank. Most of the rituals take place here. The stone steps are also the place for relaxation, drying cloths and during school/college examination time, the place for study in a tranquil atmosphere. 

A visitor feeds the ducks and geese. There are large number of fish in the Tank. Obviously they would not like to compete with ducks for their share of the pie. But when ducks are not there, fish comes in hundreds to get fed.

A ritual bather offers sacred water from the Tank to the Sun.  An intersting aspect of this tank is that though it is located very close to Arabian Sea, its water is sweet.  One has to be very careful in descending from the mossy stone steps in to the water. 

One of the devotees appears to be preparing food from the wheat flour probably offerings to the ancestors. 

A local man takes a dip in the Banganga tank.  

A line of ducks float in Banganga Tank. A large number of ducks and geese have made the Tank as their home. One can spend many hours sitting here and watching these ducks and geese floating and also the other activities on the banks of the tank.

A cat gets a prize possession from the steps of Banganga Tank as a duck gives a curious look.

Dogs fight over the farsan  sprinkled  by  one of the local guys  for crows and pegions. 

One of the narrow alleys surrounding the western side of the Banganga Tank. There are at least three alleys on which I walked and these reminded me of alleys of the Varanasi ghats with more or less the same ambience. 

A branch of Kashi Math on the western side of the Banganga Tank. This Math has two samadhis, one is that of Shrimat Madhavendra Tirth Swamiji, 7th pontiff and the other one is that of Shrimat Varadendra Tirth Swamiji, the 18th pontiff. The first samadhi was built way back in 1775 AD at the behest of Shrimat Madhavendra Tirth who entered and took mahasamadhi when he was still alive (Jeevanta Samadhi).  For  Gowd Sarswat Brahmins (GSBs),this place is supposed to be the most sacred place in Mumbai.

The main gate of Kaivalya Math branch on the northern side of the Banganga Tank.

The shikhara of Banganga Walkeshwar temple with its tower of oil lamps in the foreground. The temple is located on the western side of Banganga Tank. There are a dozen temples in the vicinity of Banganga Tank with many more smaller temples.

Balaji temple, one of the oldest temples on the northern side of Banganga Tank.

An open temple with Shivling and the idol of Shri Ganesh located near the main entrance to Banganga Tank. In the morning, I noticed many women folks doing abhishek ( shower  of milk and water on idols).

At the north-west side of Banganga Tank is a small Dhobi Ghat ( open washing place for traditional laundry man).The washed cloths are spread over the rocks at the shore of Arabian Sea for quick drying. 

Washed cloths are  hanged in  the rows of pen air in the open. The dhobi ghat is located on the north-west side of Banganga Tank.


forajit said...

Sada anand... loved your pics, envy your travel logs... can I join you and others on such trips ??
next time you come to USA do visit me in Texas..


Sadanand Kamath said...

Thanks for appreciating pictures and also for your invitation.
You are welcome to join us when you are in India the next time.

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