Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shri Mahalakshmi Temple, Kolhapur

I made up my mind to visit the Shri Mahalakshmi Temple in Kolhapur when I first read 'The Music Room' by Namita Deendayal. I loved reading that book and wonder every day at the dedication and commitment to excellence that the masters had towards their art. One can only hope to imbibe some part of that spirit and create a space so wonderful as Dhondutai Kulkarni and her gurus did.

This summer is hot and everyone looks at me strangely when I talk of a long road trip. But the Gods were with us it seemed as we set out on a cloudy morning which remained cloudy all day. Enter Kolhapur which is about a four and a half hour drive from Pune - the longest waits are at the toll stations which are unbelievably crowded - and you just keep driving on and on into the old part of the city until you hit the Shri Mahalakshami temple. We parked by the side road and walked into the temple barefoot. It was about 12 noon on a Thursday so there was not much of a crowd and we joined the separate lines for men and women. Shobha, Anjali and nieces Pooja and Prarthana in the slightly longer women's queue and me in the men's.

Everything about the temple is awesome. It is fully bound by huge walls on all sides, tall and ancient trees inside the compound, the temple structure itself looking magnificent and ancient save one part which was white washed recently. One look at the structure and you know ho much work, how much love and devotion has gone into the building of it, the construction and the architecture. I could only gaze at the detail, at the engineering and architectural brilliance and tried to reconstruct how they would have go the entire thing in place. It was not just about engineering - the science behind the placement of the idol, of each part of the temple, has a purpose, a thought guiding it.

Into the inner sanctum and one passes many other deities until one finds oneself before the presiding deity Mahalakshmi. As in all inner sanctums you find yourself transported into a space that knocks out rational thought from the head and you fall in line with the others.

Mahalakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu, the Goddess of wealth and abundance. This temple, a shaktipeetha listed in various puranas in Hinduism,  was apparently constructed int the 700 A.D. period by the Kannada Chalukyas, which is mind boggling because it is maintained in excellent condition. It must look a sight on the days of nav ratri when all he jyotis are lit on the huge pillars. We bought some prasad, sat in the compound for a while and having had our fill of the Mahalakshmi temple moved on, looking at various places where the musicians must be performing on festival days. The silver chariot was a sight to behold.

So went my intention to visit the temple and I am so glad I went. If there is one thing one would want to ask for from the Goddess it is the dedication that the masters had to perfect their art, their purpose, so we leave behind one true thought, one creative spark. They say that a visit to the Mahalakshmi temple either gives one salvation from desires or gets them fulfilled. To me it would be one and the same as it would mean some closure in certain areas that I am stuck with - which would create space from something new. 

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