Shree Saptashrungi Devi Temple is situated near Nanduri village in Maharashtra, at a distance of 26 km from Vani and 65 km from Nashik in Kalwan Tahsil. The Shree Saptashrungi Devi Temple is at about 4660 feet above sea level, on a hill encircled by seven peaks.
Three and a half places of Divine Power:
There are three and a half places of Divine Power or Shakti Peeths in Maharashtra namely – the Mahalakshmi Temple at Kolhapur, Tulja Bhavani Temple at Tuljapur, Renuka Temple at Mahur (Matripur), and the Sapatashrungi Devi Temple of Vani. While the first three are believed to be an abundant source of complete power, the Saptshrungi Temple is considered as ardha or half Shaktipeeth. Saptshrungi means 7 Mountains. The figure of the Goddess is about eight feet high, carved visible of the natural rock. She has eighteen hands, nine on each side, each hand holding different weapons. Saptashringa is a place where Goddess Bhagawati stays.
Shree Saptashrungi Devi Temple consists of two floors and the idol said to be swayambhu (self-manifested). She surrounded by seven peaks of mountain hence the name- Saptashrungi Mata (mother of the seven peaks).
Sindoor, an auspicious thing, covers the whole body of the idol. Her eyes were white shining brightly. A Trishula decorated with bells and lamps fixed in the courtyard in front of the temple. The Devi decorated with a high crown, a silver nose-ring, and necklaces.
A long time ago in Satya Yuga, Sati, wife of Lord Shiva, daughter of Daksha, attended a yagna (Joggya) performed by his father. Sati alias Parvati was not an invitee to that function, still, she attended. Her father, Daksha, was never happy with her husband Lord Shiva because of his vagabond nature, but Parvati was happy with his husband because she loved him. Daksha ignored totally Parvati’s presence in the function deliberately and used unpleasant words about Lord Shiva. All other Gods and distinguished dignitaries present there, the incident in front of all was deeply hurt and humiliated Parbati and she jumped into the fire of Yagna and sacrifice her life in protest of her husband Shiva’s insult by her father.
Shiva got the news and He came to the yagna, the place of the incident, and created a furor. In a state of grief and anger, he positioned Sati’s dead body on his shoulders and started wandering across the universe and dancing furiously. Looking at this grave situation and realizing that there was a chance of destruction of the universe, Brahma and Vishnu decided to intervene to calm down Shiva again to his normal self to save the universe.
It was then decided that Vishnu will take charge and he with his, Sudarshan Chakra cut Sati’s lifeless body into pieces. Vishnu cut Sati into fifty-one pieces as Shiva traveled worldwide. These fifty-one body parts of Sati fell at different places in the subcontinent. Locations, where the body parts of Sati fell, are referred to as Shakthi Peethas (house of Goddess Shakthi or Durga or Kali). Her right arm fell at the Saptashrungi hills, and the place has become holy, a Shakthi Peeth. The temple is also one among the 51 Shakti Peethas where one of Sati’s limbs, her right arm is reported to have fallen.
There are many myths about Devi. It is stated that once the demon king Mahishasura was doing havoc in the forests, the Gods and people urged Durga to kill the demon. Then the 18-armed Saptashrungi Devi Durga killed Mahishasura, and since then, she also called Mahishasura Mardini (Durga with ten arms worshipped in Eastern India, especially in West Bengal). Mahishasura in the guise of a buffalo fought with Devi. At the foot of the hill, from wherein one starts climbing the steps, there is the head of a buffalo, made in stone, which represents the demon Mahishasura.
In the epic Ramayana battle, while Lakshmana was lying subconsciously on the battlefield, Hanuman came to the Saptashrungi hills looking for medicinal herbs to restore his life.
Saptashrung mountain part of the woodland known as Dandakaranya stated in the Ramayana. It stated that Lord Rama, together with Seeta, and Lakshmana had come to these hills to pray to the goddess and seek her blessings.
One more hill in front of the temple, Markandeye hill was named after Sage Markandeya. There is a cave on the hill said to have been the home of the sage. This hill is placed to the east of Saptashringi, and a deep ravine divides the two hills. While staying in this cave, Markandeya used to have recited Puranas (Hindu scriptures) to entertain the Devi. There are about 108 water reservoirs on the hill, known as Kunda.
Another myth is that a tiger was living in the garbagriaha (sanctum sanctorum) each night and kept a watch at the temple however it went away before sunrise.
Yet some other myth is that once someone was looking to damage a beehive, the Devi appeared before him to prevent the act.
Many latest narratives glorify the Goddess’s divinity, which is also linked to Shirdi Sai Baba and his devotees. In one such narration, a priest of Vani village called Kakaji Vaidya, working withinside the Saptashrungi Temple, pretty disturbed by the miseries of life around him, and he, therefore, appealed to the Goddess to provide him peace of mind and relieve him from all worries. Pleased with the priest’s devotion to her, the Goddess appeared to him in a dream and advised him to visit the Baba to set his mind at rest and in peace.
As the priest was then not aware of which Baba she supposed. He thought it was the Shiva at Trimabakeshwar temple, and so he went there and offered worship to Shiva and stayed there for some days. Nevertheless, he did not get the sensation of peace in the process, and his restless mood continued. He got here back to Vani village disheartened. Every day morning after taking a bath, he offered pujas to Shiva Linga by chanting the Rudra mantra from the Yajurveda for many days. Peace of mind was still effusive.
He then went back to the Mata Shree Saptashrungi Devi Temple and appealed to her to relieve his stressed mind. That night she appeared in his dream. She advised him that the Baba she intended was Sai Samarth of Shirdi and that he need to go there. The priest did not realize the whereabouts of Sai Baba. Sai Baba, through his divine psychic perception, found out the need of the priest. So he sent his most loving devotee Madhavarao to meet the priest and bring him to his presence.
Coincidentally, Madhavrao had also gone there at Baba’s recommendation to offer silver breasts to the goddess. His mother had forgotten to satisfy her vow of gifting the silver breasts to the goddess. When Madhavarao went to Vani village, the priest met him. The priest realized that he had come from Shirdi to offer the silver breast to the Goddess.
The priest very thrilled and also, for the first time, felt the peace of mind. He then took Madhavarao to the Saptashrungi Temple. The silver breasts placed on the Goddess’s feet in the sanctum to satisfy his mother’s vow. The priest then came to Shirdi with Madhavarao, had the Sai Baba’s darshan. He stayed there for 12 days, and felt very peaceful. He then went back to Vani.
There are about 500 steps to climb the temple from the road end. There are community halls, and a gallery, for devotees to form queues to have darshan of the Goddess conveniently. Devotees from all over the country and abroad visit this shrine in large numbers every day. Buses are available to reach the temple precincts.
To reach the temple from the foot of the hill, there are two types of arrangements
- Conventional steps of 500 in numbers
There is a food court at the temple premises
Among many important festivals “the Chaitra festival” is the most popular occasion. The festival begins from Rama Navami (the ninth lunar day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Chaitra) and ends on Chaitra Poornima (full moon day), which is said to be the major festival. The childless women who have taken vows attend this festival to beget children by the grace of the Devi. Many have been successful in getting the fruits of their sincere prayer. Devotees in huge numbers come here on such occasions every year.
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