Monday, September 26, 2011

Shegaon & Vani, Our Holly Places !

I am not much of a devotee when it comes to visiting holly places. Yet its said that when you are destined to visit such place then they calls you & things fall in place1 one such experience it was I visited in a single week two holly places which are far away from each other  & the experience is worth sharing! Both places have very high regards in minds of devotees or bhaktagan we can call & each day thousands of people visit them to pay their homage to the almighty. One is Shegaon which is famous for Saint Gajanan Maharaj & other is Vani which is supposed to be half shaktipith & residence of Goddess Sapatshringi!
Shegaon is a small town rather village in comparison with city like Pune & in Vidharbha region which is water scarce as well poor on most of the fronts by wealth factor. Most of the visitors are poor & public civic facilities were none few years back. Here the committee which looks after the temple comes in picture & what a remarkable achievement they have done, it’s worth visiting just to experience that. The sansthan i.e. temple is not as cash rich as few of the famous places in our country like Shirdi or Tirupati, yet what ever collection they get through the visitors they have set an example the way they have utilized the same. First off all they have a free transportation system to pick up the visitors from bus stand & railway station. As many people come by these two means to the city, Earlier the rickshaw walas & private operators use to loot the tourists to take them from the bus or railway stations to the temple asking for ransom & the visitors also had to surrender as there wasn't any other mean & one cant walk for 2-3 km with luggage in hand. This free bus service is a huge relief for economically weaker segment & it’s through out the day & night after very small intervals. Here you know the first glimpse of what the temple is doing for you!

Realizing the need of accommodation the temple trust has build hundreds of rooms in form of Bhaktaniwas all around the temple & they are made available to the guests at very cheap rate. They may not be luxurious but they are functional & serving the need. Same is about the food at mere 40/- a thali is being served at these accommodations saving the time as well money of the visitors & do mind its as best as the food which you can get at a small place like Shegaon! Medical facilities also are made available in the campus of the temple taking care of any health problem with tourists. At regular intervals drinking water fountains are there along with public toilet facility which is so rare a thing in our country. What’s more important is they are clean all the time & water is available for proper flushing in any of the toilet. Hot water & drinking water have been made available at every landing of each floor in the Bhaktaniwas, so the visitors don’t have to buy costly bottled water. At each point you can’t miss the care & concern of the trust i.e. sansthan people for the devotees & that’s what makes Shegaon temple unique.

To add on the sansthan has built a huge & I mean huge theme park " Anandsagar" over 400 acres of land & it has to be visited as it’s above any words. Its mainly for the Dhyan or Sadhana of the devotees visiting the temple but they have created a miracle over a land which was baron few years early. And now it’s a center of attraction for every visitor, making it’s a revenue generator as well a hot tourists spot in a town which has nothing against its name to visit it for except the temple! The park contains temples, lakes, water bodies, statues of various saints who has contributed in the cultural as well spiritual growth of Maharashtra, vast open spaces & lots of greenery. It will be a habitat for many species with lots of flora & fauna which is rare thing in Vidrabha region where water & greenery are scarce terms. Information charts right from the accommodation availability to trains timings for major destinations have been displayed all over in park, in bhaktaa niwas & in temple also. All this shows the way temple is striving to take care of the visitors & that's very soothing feel, especially in a country where giving service to the visitor lack professional touch.

One thing which stands above all is Cleanliness; the guys there are obsessed with it! Most rare thing to see is a piece of garbage in open& that to at a place where thousands of people visits from all class of the society! All around the clock a team of Swayansevak i.e. Volunteers is busy in keeping the place clean & not a single garbage bean is allowed to over flow such is the punctuality. Knowing our love for tobacco & pan, yet you won’t find a single tobacco chewing stain & that is remarkable achievement. Really not only other temples but even the municipal corporations & private sectors also can learn a lot as here is the display of what a governing body can do if they decide to do good! I think at least to experience this cleanliness one should visit Shegaon temple & Anandsagar! And there isn't any entry tax or toll to enter the city of Shegaon, again a rare thing!

On this back ground when I traveled to another equal highly regarded pilgrimage i.e. Vani which is situated near Nashik, the contrast in the up keeping of the place was remarkable. No signage, the temple is on up hills so from the bottom of hill to the temple one has to use private vehicle or climb up. The place with all due respect of the Vani sansthan isn't clean but garbage & drainage overflowing on narrow streets. No proper parking places for the vehicles neither arrangement for accommodation or toilets of the visitors. Whatever little accommodation over the place is, it has not even drainage line & the whole drainage has been laid in open. In peak time water is scarce commodity as there isn't any permanent source of water supply has been created & with all these lacuna's we have to pay entry tax which makes us wonder why we have paid it?

Another major aspect is using natural resources, at Shegaon right from Bhaktaniwas to Anandsagar solar water heating plants have been used as Solar energy is available in abundance in that locality. Similarly Vani could think of the same as well wind energy as it’s at much higher altitude. With all due respect to the sentiments of the devotee's & agreed we visit for the goddess a question surely crosses the minds that if Shegaon can do it why not Vani?

Recently I read in a report that over 50 million tourists visited our Maharashtra state last year & most of them for pilgrimage & look what we have to offer them as facilities at such places & what image they must have been carrying back home about our holly places! At both places i.e. Shegaon & Vani, the local governing bodies are dumb in compare with the temple bodies. They are just doing nothing when actually the city is getting benefited by so many visitors to the respective temples. Not even proper roads or road signage going towards the temple from railway or bus station is there at Shegaon, leave apart the parking facility or a proper information center. Same is at Vani the Ghat road has been done yet a lot needs to be improved & this is job of the local governing body only. With all efforts the temple management is doing to keep the premise in clean form at Shegaon, the area outside of the temple premise says the same story which is at Vani or at most such places in our state. Saddening is nobody speaks about it neither complaint! May be people think they earn more Punya if the darshan is in tough conditions but what we forget is no God will like to live in such conditions & especially when they are man made!

Like the great Buddha said, I think instead paying random amounts in danpeti or doing abhisheak, every visitor should try to contribute on this front then only our prayers will be with meaning to it & reach to the God!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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  1. Dear Sanjay I congratulate you for describing in details about the Shegaon , Gajanan Maharaj sanstans and their hard work . At Shegaon what I experienced is that they treat "Bhakta" (Visitor)as god .They plan everything keeping in mind the benefit of visitors not sansthan.This is the major difference between Shegaon Sansthan and others.(

  2. Thanks abhinav, yeah its heartening on one side to see shegaon & equaly saddening to see other holly places!

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