Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trek to Thanale Caves

After the fantastic nature trail at SGNP on 18th August, where we did the Yewoor trail passing through the fantastic Kanheri caves I was totally fascinated by the spirit of the Buddhist monks and the pains they took in carving out each and every detail of their imagination on stone, I definately wanted to see some more. The moment Doreen sent the mail regarding the Caves of Thanale, which are believed to be 2,200 years old for the next weekend, I knew I was going there inspite of all odds.

We were supposed to meet on Sat morning at 6.45 am at Hotel Vrindavan near Sion station. I reached there along with Krunal around 6:30 am and waited for others sipping masala tea in the hotel. After some time Darshana and Ashokji reached there too. we started our journey at about 7:00 am after Doreen, Roshan, Marge and Vandana joined us. Unfortunately When we were about to leave the taxiwalas told us that we had a flat rear tyre and then we kept our fingers crossed till we reached the punturewala. After filling some air in the tyre we started our journey as he was of the opinion that it was not a punture.

We reached Pali, a scared place for the Hindus, this Ganapati is considered to be a part of the Asthavinayak Circuit after some 2 hrs of driving. After taking directions from locals we reached Nadsur village which is about 12 kms from Pali. Thanale which is the base village is about 4 kms from Nadsur. We took two villagers Bhabhan and Maruti as our Trek guides. As we entered the woods the jungle grew thick and was very rich in Flora and Fauna. Moving slightly ahead we came across two beautiful water streams which we crossed over and marched ahead. The first sight of the caves was amazing. They appeared dotted in a row at a distance. We rested near the 2nd second water stream for a while and then reached the caves after a 2 hour trek from
Thanale village.

The caves encompass an arrangement of about 20-22 halls, each meticulously provided with spaces in the form of benches and reclining platforms. Cave-8 is the only chaitya. Cave-3 is memorial complex consisting of 6 monolith, 2 corner stones & 5 built-up i.e. total 13 stupas. Cave-7 is model for engineering, architecture & grandeur. Vestigies of ancient plastering & paintings are present. Four 'Shree' i.e. 'Laxmi' idols. The last vestiges found in one of the caves point to an association with the erstwhile Mauryan dynasty. There are exquisite carvings decorating the ceilings and doors. For the first time punch-marked silver coins of Ashokan
period (268-227 B.C.) were found here. These caves may be elder than the Bhaja cave complex, the oldest known.

After the decline of Chaul as port during the end of the 5th century, the trade routes altered & this cave complex was rendered desolate & fell into oblivion. It was rediscovered by a missionary J. A. Abbot in January 1890. The revolutionary Vasudev Balvant Phadake used to take refuge in these caves. The 'Siristan' mentioned at Pandavleni, Nashik, most probably refers to this 'Shree-sthan' i.e. Thanale.

After lunch and a couple of photography sessions we started the descent as we had to also get under the beautiful waterfall which bhabhan had promised us to take on our journey back and The Pali Ganapati temple. We were blessed by the rain gods as it started raining as soon as we started back. Reaching the first stream we realised how A bath in a waterfall pool can be a strong cleansing experience, we followed the stream uptill a huge waterfall and could feel the strength of the winds that are created by the falling waters. It was a breathtaking experiece to be in such a field of power. Bathing in the pool of a gentle waterfall and rejuvenating experience of a lifetime.

On reaching the Thanale village we washed up ourselves at Bhabhan's place and then moved on towards our vehicle where we had a huge shock of our lives, our Sumo tyre had gone flat. After replacing the rear tyre we headed towards the Ballaleshwar temple at Pali. Named after Ballal, son of Kalyan Shreshthi, from whose `tapasya', Ganesh appeared at pali. The deity is known
as Ballaleshwar. Erlier the deity was placed in a wooden temple. The wooden temple was so constructed that the rays of the sun would fall directly on the deity from the two equinoxes of the temple. The temple was reconstructed in 1770 by Morobadada Phadanvis. The Ganesh idol in the temple is 3 ft. high. Behind the temple, another temple of Ganesh, known as Dhundi Vinayak is situated. The Peshwas had installed the big bell, in the temple which is of Portuguese make. Inner sanctum is quite big and is 15 feet high. Outer sanctum is 12 feet high and it has rat idol with Modak in his hands and facing Ganesh. Temple walls are made quite strong by
mixing lead with cement while construction.Hall of the temple is 40 feet long and 20 feet broad and it was built by late Shri Krishnaji Ringe in 1910 A.D. Hall is very beautiful with 8 pillars resembling cyprus throne tree. Idol of Vinayaka sitting on stone throne, faces east and its trunk is left turned. The shining diamonds are embedded in the eyes and naval. The background is of silver where one finds Riddhi and Siddhi waving chamaras. Temple complex has a big bell made in Europe. After defeating portuguese in Vasai and Sasthi, Chimaji Appa brought these bells and offered them at different Ashtavinayak places.

After taking the darshan of Lord Ganesha we took a small break at a Hotel near the temple. I had Medu Vada and Kokam Sharbat while others had batata vada and Sabudana vada.

We started towards Mumbai at about 6:30 pm and reached sion at about 9:15 pm. I took a rickshaw to Bandra from where I took the Virar fast to Vasai and reached home at about 10:30 pm. for a pictorial journey of the trip visit my online album at:


Doreen said...

Harish, great job on the blog. You have included almost all the details of our trek. At the same time I would like to give credit to Ashok for suggesting such a marvellous place. We were the only ones on the whole route and Bhaban and Maruti were the best guides of this trekkking season. Butterflies seen: blue oak leaf, tailed jay and chocolate pansy. Also plenty of hill turmeric covering the hillside. The highlight for me was seeing one solitary karvi flowering.

capt anita said...

harish ,
u could never miss a detail ,,i mean in anything u do ,, its always after so much of research and feedbacks ,,its amazing the way u have described ur trip really ,,, i just went thru all ur blogs ,, the photos r amazin , i guess u finally won a digi cam of ur choice,,
anyways keep rockin and be in touch

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

nice narration