Travel to Saputara & Saptashrungi Gad – A Short Break
A part of this year’s New Year Resolution is to travel more. To be more precise, take shorter breaks rather than long vacations during the week so that it helps you unwind better and relax. With crazy travel schedules of husband, these short breaks are a breath of fresh air, as it helps us to communicate better, plan things ahead and also relax and enjoy some food.
Since we were opting for a destination somewhere closer, not wanting to travel very far from Mumbai, completely chucking out the regular travel destinations of the likes of Lonavala or Mahableshwar, we finally zeroed down on Saputara. Since we are Club Mahindra members, which you already know by now, if you have read my earlier posts on Coorg, we booked their resort at Hatgad which is some 3 kms from Saputara, last month.
Since husband had few work assignments to be done, we didn’t plan an elaborate outing this time but did take some time out, when work didn’t demand his time too much. Adjusting to each other’s schedule is very vital and we follow that from day one.
Saputara, a beautiful quaint hill station situated in Gujarat, is at an elevation of about 1000 m above sea level. The temperatures during winters are anywhere between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius and during summers its maximum temperatures reach 32 degrees Celsius. Saputara has mythological importance, as it is believed that, Lord Rama spent 11 years of his exile here. The name Saputara literally means ‘Abode of Serpents’.
Travelling from Mumbai to Saputara takes about 5 hours by road, with stops for lunch / refreshments. The road quality is excellent and driving, hence becomes a great pleasure. Winters is a good time to visit Nasik as the climate is pleasant and you get lovely seasonal (winter) fruits and other fresh produce to shop. Another huge plus is, travelling within and sightseeing becomes much easy when the climate is pleasant. Otherwise, Nasik is known to touch around 45 degrees plus during summers so it is next to impossible to visit places of interest during the day. (Distance between Nasik to Saputara is 2 hours)
Once we crossed Nasik, the drive became even more pleasant, with farms on both sides growing vegetables like cauliflowers, onions (best onions come from Nasik), Tomatoes (Mumbaikars receive a lot of their tomatoes from Nasik) and not to forget, Grapes. Note – The very famous Sula Vineyards is also located in Nasik. The farmers were selling their fresh produce of grapes, right on the highway. Priced at 80 bucks a kilo, they were sweet, a bit tangy and just what grapes should taste. Grapes of both Black and green varieties were available and the whole stretch of road say atleast 4 kms have fruit vendors selling fresh grapes and even raisins that are sun dried (no preservatives or chemicals added) and sold to you. You can literally feel the difference in the quality of the raisins that you might be buying from the dry fruits shop and the ones that are sold here. They are dried, but not to the extent that the raisins loses its sweetness. It has restored its tanginess too and you certainly cannot stop at one. The fruit vendors recommend to soak raisins overnight and consume them the next morning after waking up, extremely good for health.
One more thing that was totally unexpected was farmers / vendors selling strawberries. I mean fresh, sweet strawberries that don’t come from Mahabaleshwar but are grown in farms here itself. Priced at Rs. 100 bucks for a kilo, I was smart enough to grab atleast 2 kgs as I know these would last for a very short while at home, considering the fact that I simply love these berries.
After a while of enjoying the farm scenes and the berries, we headed to our resort and simply crashed. Evening dinner was just some fruits as we had already had some snacks on the way to Saputara. The next morning, we headed over to Saputara (from Hatgad) for some breakfast. Post our breakfast, we wanted to do some boating at the lake close by but since it was closed, we thought of experiencing the Cable Car ride, which I had looked up before planning the trip, that gives a good view of Saputara from the top. I have to confess that I am a little skeptical of heights, but I am always willing to try no matter how scared I am. With assurance by Narayan, we hopped on the small cabin and the guy locked us from the outside, thankfully! I was forever questioning Narayan, what will happen if this door opens midair? So, yeah, I got the response right away with the guy tightly closing the door shut and giving me a grin, looking at my white / pale face filled with fear. 5 seconds later, I was enjoying the view from the top and had completely forgotten my racing heartbeats and churning stomach. The Cable Car ride stops for a few seconds, mid air, so that you can click some snaps etc of the view from the top. When we reached the other end, we had a cup of tea, enjoyed the view of the Western Ghats and hopped on our ride back.
We then drove down to the lake and opted to pedal as we wanted to burn some breakfast calories. A good 45 minutes of pedaling built up a good appetite for lunch. We didn’t want to come back home with added kilos, so ate sensibly, sharing our meals and dividing the portions etc. The trick worked really well and post our vacations, we didn’t put on a single kilo. We kept dinners light with only soup and fruits. All thanks to our loot of grapes and strawberries, we enjoyed it.
The next day we spent at the resort only, as I mentioned earlier, Narayan was on continuous calls so the only break we took was to have a lavish Gujrati Thali. What is the point of visiting Gujarat and not have a traditional thali? So yes, we did have a small breakfast of fruits and kept the dinner same too and indulged in lunch. A beautiful meal that comprised of all the specials. Even though the spice quotient was less, the oil was a bit too much for us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our meal as the food was delicious, not to forget, local cuisine.
Our next day trip had to begin early as we planned to visit the very famous SaptaShrungi Temple at Wani, which is approximately 1.5 hours drive from our location.
SaptaShrungi Temple is situated some 60 kms from Nasik (West Part of India – Maharashtra). Sapta means seven. According to Mythology, the Goddess resides in the 7 mountain peaks. It is also one of the 3 ½ Shakti Peethas (Mahalakshmi of Kolhapur, Mahasaraswati of Tuljapur and Mahakali of Mahur) of Maharashtra and among the 51 Shakti Peeths located in India.
What is exactly a Shakti Peeth – It’s Origin?
According to Hindu Mythology, King Dakhsha (father of Sati and the first wife of Lord Shiva) was performing a yagna (fire ritual). Sati, wife of Lord Shiva attended the function without invitation. Daksha was not very fond of Lord Shiva nor was happy with their alliance, hence didn’t invite Lord Shiva for the function, which really hurt Sati Devi but she still went ahead to attend the function inspite of Lord Shiva requesting her not to do so. At the yagna, Daksha ignored his daughter completely and not able to bear the insult of her father towards her and her husband, Lord Shiva, Sati Devi jumped into the burning pyre and died.
Not able to bear the tragic news, Shiva’s wrath could be seen everywhere. He held Sati’s body and wandered the entire universe, completely heartbroken, dejected and struck with grief. Looking at the situation, Lord Vishnu knew he had to do something else the universe would stop functioning and hence he destroyed Sati’s body with his Sudarshan Chakra, which led to body parts falling at different locations. The right arm is said to have fallen here at Saptashrungi and hence the temple was established and given its due recognition as Shakti Peeth.
Saptashrungi Temple is two storied shrine with the Devi enshrined in the top floor. The Devi image is carved in a cave. The Devi is swayambhu (self-manifested) and is eighteen armed (ashta dasha bhuja). The devi is 8 feet in height and is saffron in colour. In her 18 hands, she holds the trishul (Lord Shiva), sudarshana chakra (Lord Vishnu), shanka (conch), Flames of fire God – Agni, Bow and Arrow, Vajra, Bell, Danda of Yama, Akshamala (string of beads), Kamandalu (Water pot), rays of Sun, Sword and Shield from Goddess Kali, Axe from Parashuram, Wine cup of Lord Kubera, Gada, Lotus, Lance and Pasha
The temple is situated right at the top of the mountain and it takes about 500 plus steps to climb. The steps are constructed well with railings on both sides for support. Resting places at suitable locations are made with facilities of drinking water. It takes approximately and hour to climb the stairs which are pretty steep and requires a good deal of fitness. The darshan of the Goddess, in the end, makes it all worth it.
Though they have constructed a cable car to make travel easier and faster especially for senior citizens and women with infants etc, the facility has not yet started in full swing.
Parking is available at a nominal fee inside the temple premises.
On your way back, don’t forget to shop for farm fresh vegetables and seasonal fruits directly from the farms. They are pretty economical, not to forget, extremely fresh!
I will soon be posting some recipes that were created using the farm fresh vegetables purchased from here on the blog soon!
Summary of the Travel –
- Distance between Mumbai to Saputara – 5 hours by road
- Distance between Nasik to Saputara – 2 hours by road
- Distance between Saputara to Saptashrungi Temple – 1.5 hours approx by road
- Places to stay in Saputara – Many hotels are in the vicinity that provide good accommodation and food facilities. Club Mahindra, Hatgad (3 kms from Saputara) was where we were staying as we are members with them.
- Things to buy – Fruits, fresh local produce – Vegetables etc.
- Food and Restaurant Recommendations –
- Lakeview Resort right opposite to the Saputara Lake serves some amazing food. They also pack food as take away options. Jain food is also available. The Gujarati Thali that we had, was here and tasted delicious, though was a tad bit oily.
- Places of Interest Nearby-
- Sunrise and Sunset Points, Waterfalls, Horseride etc are nearby but we didn’t visit due to lack of time and our recent visits to similar places during our Coorg holiday.
Note – Wikipedia has been researched for some notes on the temple history and the details on Shakti Peethas.