I wonder about the concept of “faith” sometimes. Faith in a belief, faith in a religion, faith in people, faith in relationships, faith in God… Faith. An abstract, nebulous concept for some; yet, a strong, clear path for others.
My faith in the concept of faith was tested during my recent trip to Pune, when the annual Palkhi Festival of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar passed through the city on 5-6 July 2010. The palkhi or palanquin of Sant Dnyaneshwar carries his footwear on a silver bullock cart; I am not sure what the palkhi of Sant Tukaram carries.
A group of varkaris singing abhangs (devotional songs) around an idol of Sant Dnyaneshwar
According to the Maharashtra Tourism website, the Palkhi Festival is a 1,000 year old tradition where devotees/pilgrims, known as varkarisaccompany the palkhis on foot to Pandharpur over 22 days in June (the Hindu month of Jyeshta)–July (the Hindu month of Ashada). The Palkhi Festival ends on Ashada Ekadashi.
Thousands of devotees make this annual trip every year. This year, the ToI has estimated that 3 lakh varkaris joined the 2010 Palkhi Festival. On the day the palkhis pass through Pune, roads get blocked, traffic diverted, and schools and colleges declare a holiday.
A walk in the Tulsi Baug area was just what I needed to lift my spirits after the visit to Vishrambaug Wada. Of course, it helped that the Tulsi Baug area is just across the road from the Wada.
It is difficult to explain what exactly Tulsi Baug is. In spite of the name baug, which means garden, it is not one. Tulsi Baug has about two temples and shops selling brass and copper items, as well as puja items. The market surrounding Tulsi Baug is also known as Tulsi Baug, though I am sure it must have a name like Lakshmi Market!
I first discovered Tulsi Baug as a college student, when I had time to spare between my music classes and my college lectures. Each week, I would set off in a different direction and explore yet another lane or market. I still recall those days with a lot nostalgia.
Anyway, I spent a happy hour wandering around in the Tulsi Baug area and poking around in the shops, generally having a good time. It was colour and texture therapy all the way.
Enjoy the photographs.
The dilapidated, but beautiful Rameshwar Temple at Tulsi Baug. Some kind of repair work seemed to be in progress.
Vishrambaug Wada was built as a residence by Peshwa Baji Rao II in 1811. Today, part of the Wada is open to the public, while other parts have government offices and a post office installed in them. Located in the heart of Pune city, the Wada is a symbol of Pune’s rich cultural heritage. Ironically, it is also a symbol of neglect and apathy to that very rich cultural heritage.
I visited Vishrambaug Wada on a Sunday morning. Though the markets were open, there were not too namy people around. The hawker that you can see outside Vishrambaug Wada in the photograph below was busy displaying his ware of sofa and TV covers and bedsheets, when I arrived.
The terracotta, brown and white façade of the Wada, its wooden balcony, and massive wooden pillars (which I could see from across the road), presented the perfect opportunity for a photo-op as I waited to cross the road.
I mentioned in my previous post that I had gone ’site’-seeing when I was in Pune last week. One of the places I went to was the 8th century, rock-cut Pataleshwar Caves.
Situated on Jungli Maharaj Road, the entrance to the Caves is through a small garden with this magnificent banyan tree.
The beautiful banyan tree
In spite of its size, the banyan tree was homely, if you know what I mean. If the grounds had not been wet from the rain, I would have snuggled up to the tree with a book. I had to be content with just hugging the tree and moving on to the Caves.