We woke up early, and surprising even us, we were ready to roll at 7.15 a.m. The road was wet by yesterday’s rain. The first stop of the day was Bahe Maruti. We rolled on, stopping to ask directions from time to time. The roads soon left Karad city, and entered beautiful country roads. We road through tall crop and dumpy roads, with very sparse traffic. First came Islampur, and a left turn short ahead, then a right a few kms ahead, then realized we should have taken left at the last turn itself… it was as if we entered in a maze. But the atmosphere was beautiful. Suhana safar, suhana humsafar, I wasn’t minding the slow twisting journey at all.
Finally, after riding for about 30 kms, we passed a bridge, entering Bahe. Started looking for any sign of temple. Since the temples are more than 400 years old, we assumed they would be pretty big entity now, easy to spot. We were proved wrong about 8 out of 11 times today!
When we asked a person on road about the temple, he told us that the temple was at the bridge which we passed! Wondering how we could miss a big temple, we took U turn, and proceeded to the bridge. There we came to know, that this temple was located on an island! There is a proper footbridge connecting the island to land through the river. The foot bridge is accessible from both sides of the main bridge, one way on foot, and other way through vehicle. We tried first by the foot-approach, but the bridge seemed too long to walk.
Being a lazy bum, I obviously chose the vehicle entry point. Crossed the bridge again, and entered the area below from the other side, this time on bike.
Once more, fate had its laugh, where I fumbled through hard steep decline and slipped away many times to the start of the bridge, finally to find it closed to all kinds of vehicles! Parked Vesta there, and proceeded to walk our way to the temple.
We didn’t know that time, being the first temple that we were covering, but this is the best maintained temple of all the 11 ones. Bahe Gram Panchayat has really worked well to maintain this island as a thing of beauty. There is even a Helipad at most scenic location possible. May be I will go next time by Helicopter!
The campus is huge. The island is truly an island with river all around it, and only connecting way is the foot bridge. This seems to be a newly constructed bridge, we can see the remains of the old foot bridge around.
This temple took about 1 hour, including getting Vesta down and back up from the steep route, and walking to the temple and back. If each temple would take so much, I wondered how we could cover all 11 temples in one day. However, this was a futile worry, as all other temples except one are located on the way.
Our next stop was 32 Shirale. Here at Bahe, we met the first man who knew about the 11 marutis. When we asked him directions, he told ‘go towards west, and cross highway, there is 32 Shirale’. Me and Nandinee both invariably looked skywards to find sun, to know what direction is west! Pretty unique way to tell directions! We proceeded as told, crossed the big highway, and finally following street signs and intuitions, finally landed in 32 Shirale.
We asked a couple of rickshaw owners at the stand:
‘Where is the Samartha Sthapit Hanuman temple?’
‘There it is!’
‘See behind you, it’s just behind that house.’
It was visible from the main road, but was pretty hard to spot. I found the temple to be not as well maintained as one would hope it would be. It is a stone temple, and grass and wild plants were growing from its walls. We found a sneak entry from left hand of the temple, and had to use it as the main entry was closed. The Hanuman idol was smiling at us.
There I found this first map of the 11 Maruti route. This helped a good deal in deciding the next path.
We had quick breakfast in a small hotel just outside the temple, and headed for the next stop: Pargaon.
The route is as confusing as can be, and simply futile to recollect and rewrite. We actually nick named the Pargaon Maruti as U turn Maruti, as we had to take record breaking U turns for visiting the temple. Pargaon Maruti too, is located bang in the town. It is well maintained temple.
Next stop: Manpadale. Also called as Mandapale, maybe a local abbreviation. Both Pargaon and Manapadale marutis are hardly few kms apart. The temple is located bit inside the village.
From Manapadale, we joined the NH4 highway to head back to Karad. Here the rains smiled upon us. It started raining cats and dogs, and with our bright minds, we hadn’t brought the rain pants. So chilled from waist down, I kept on riding. We could see the clear sky ahead towards Karad, and dark cloudy sky above us. There was no point in waiting for the rain to subside, and it seemed wise to race against the rain and run towards the dry area. And race we did! Sticking the needle at 70KMPH, Vesta rode like a horse, and brought us back safely to dry plains. Here I observed an interesting thing. When the highways are laid, four wheelers and trucks travel in lanes, on same tyre paths. The two outer lines in each lane where the tyres actually meet the road, are bit pressed inside the road. When it rains hard and water starts flowing on the road, it inevitably seeps in the carved in lines, and whenever a car passes you by, huge waves of water jump at you. After getting clueless thorough soaking, the wet sharp mind finally deduced the sunken roads caused by the constant travelling of cagers.
We reached Karad at around 1.00pm, an hour late than the check out time. But the kind soul at the checking counter didn’t mind, and after a filling lunch, we were packed and on the road at 2.30p.m.