Friday, April 14, 2017

Bhuleshwar - a Heritage Walk

"The resonance of tenple bells reverberates through the stillness of dawn. The milk vendor pedals his way through the labyrinth of lanes and by-lanes. The fragrance emanating from the piles of flowers stacked along the Phool-Galli permits the air. The crimson on the eastern horizon heralds the sunrise as Bhuleshwar stirs to life and prepares itself to turn a resigned enclave into a beehive of multifaceted activity as the day wears on" --A Tale of Native Towns of Mumbai (Bhuleshwar-Girgaum-Malabar Hill) by Jagdish Gandhi. 

Indeed Bhuleshwar is a sleepy enclave when we start our heritage walk with Khaki Tours but is completely different as the sun goes up and the day picks up pace. By the time we finish our walk and come back to the starting point, Bhuleshwar is unrecognisable. 

Shri Swaminarayan Temple, built in colonial architecture style. It's facade has similarities to what you can see in a French cathedral. The temple is encased by residential quarters.

Born as Ghanshyam Pandey in Ayodhya, Sahajanand Swami travelled all over before landing in Saurashtra. There, he united a heavily fragmented region and spread his teachings and created a binding force in Saurashtra. He was later given the title of Swaminarayan. This temple is the first Swaminarayan temple in Mumbai, before their fascination for marble took over. This temple was built, around 120 years ago, on a land that was donated by a Kutchi gentleman who demolished his own house and donated his land to build this temple.

A very interesting Hanuman idol inside the Swaminarayan temple, built in Nepali style. Notice the women under his feet. Usually, it's a male (Shani), but here you see a women (Panavti). By the way, there is a Panavti temple in Nepal where people go to remove their own panavti (bad luck)

An interesting Ganesh idol different from the ones we usually see

The tale of Sahajanand Swami who was born in Ayodhya and later travelled to- and lived in- Saurashtra, told in a comic strip as painted on the dome's ceiling of the Swaminarayan Temple.

The idols of Narayan and goddess Laxmi. Look at Laxmi closely; she is holding a diamond studded purse.

A shop with an old-fashioned signage

This is one of the narrowest streets in Mumbai. It goes under a building and resembles a building entrance. But it is officially a street.

The Balaji Ramji temple, built in art deco style, the only Art Deco styled temple in the precinct. It is owned by the GSB temple trust, that also owns the Banganga tank, Walkeshwar temple and the Sitladevi temple at Mahim. The art deco styled Balaji Ramji temple. Such flooring can be seen in other art deco buildings like Eros Cinema

Bhuleshwar flower market

Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple. This temple is famous for the 5-headed Hanuman idol.

A unique Tulsi vrindavan where the lower part is open

Rameshwar Temple (notice the two monkeys at either side)

Bhuleshwar Temple

 A hindu temple in an islamic looking building, which has a star of David on it.

Inside the Krishna Pranani Temple; a lovely silver casket to collect donations

Raja Chhatrasal of Shri Krishn Pranami sect, a 400-year old Gujarati sect of Vaishnavism. He and his master Pran Nath, who headed the sect, took on Aurangzeb for his excesses on Hindus. Chhatrasal was Mastani's (of Bajirao Mastani) father.

A silver sculptor of a lady dressed in traditional Maharashtrian attire of a 9-year saree

The ceiling depicting Lord Krishna's dance inside the Krishna Pranani Temple

A carving- made with Indo-western influence- at one of the temples at Bhuleshwar. She is an apsara (angel) wearing a 9-yrd saree but look at the umbrella at the top which is a wester influence and also the mermaid look. This is a temple that honours artisans.

The Vishwakarma Temple; a unique temple devoted to Vishwakarma, a God of artisans and engineers. The only one of its kind in Mumbai. Above right: The dome's ceiling of the Vishwakarma Temple

The 10 incarnations of Vishnu painted in the dome's ceiling of the Vishwakarma Temple

The Sri Ram Mandir built in Gurjar-Mewada style, Kabutarkhana in Bhuleshwar. The feel is that of a typical Mewad palace.

The two main doors to the sanctum sanatorium depict Ramayana tales

A canon buried ages ago on the road

One of the country's oldest animal shelters. In 1830, there were Parsi dog riots. Back then, the Bombay government decided to kill stray dogs, many of whom happened to be pets of Parsi families. Parsis, who at that time constituted 7% of the city's population and dominate trade with the British, stopped food supplies  to the British as a mark of protest. The government finally gave in and asked Parsis to make an animal shelter. So in 1834, Motichand Amarchand (a Jain) and Sir Jamsetjee Jijibhoy came together and founded the Bombay Panjrapole. Now, it is dominated by Jain who come here to feed the animals as an act of kindness.

 The richly endowed Gir Cow bull. The bulls are really large

The city's only Sun Temple. It sits in the central courtyard surrounded by working . office quarters. The presiding deity, Surya Narayan, sits mounted in a chariot drawn by seven horses (each horse representing a day of the week) and piloted by Arun, the charioteer, is carved out from a single stone. The doors of the Sun Temple must face the east to get the first rays of the sun.

(Text referance: Bharat Gothoskar, A Tale of Native Towns of Mumbai, a book by Jagdish Gandhi and notes taken down by my friend Abhay Kukreti, a fellow Khaki-ite.)

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