|Ekvira Aai Mandir|
|Primary deity||Ekvira Devi|
|Important festivals||Navratri, chytra Palkhi Festival (march, April)|
|History and governance|
Ekvira Aai Mandir
The Ekvira Aai Mandir is a Hindu temple located near the Karla Caves near Lonavala in Maharashtra, India. Here, the worship of the goddess Ekvira is carried on right next to the caves, once a center of Buddhism. The temple is a prime spot of worship for the Aagri-Koli People. But along with the Koli (fisherman) folk, Ekvira is worshipped by many people especially those belonging to the CKP & Daivadnya Brahmins caste as their presiding family deity, Kuldaivat. This temple-complex originally consisted of three alike shrines built in a row all facing west. Of these, the central and the southern shrines are preserved in full and rest of the structures are preserved only on plan and that too brought to light in the clearance work. Maha-mandapa, varsha-mandapa and gopura are situated in front of these three shrines and these three shrines are surrounded by sixteen shrines of additional parivara devatas. The devotees throng the temple on all occasions of Navaratri and Chaitri Navratra to worship and celebrate. Animal sacrifices are also offered in this temple, including the sacrifice of goat or chickens. It is believed that the Goddess has majestic powers.
According to the legend, this temple was constructed by the Pandavas during their exile in the forest (araṇyavāsam). Once when Pandavas visited this holy place, Ekvīrā Mātā appeared before them. She instructed them to build a temple for her. To test the kārya diksha (work ethic) of the Pandavas, the Goddess laid a condition that the construction must be done overnight. The Pandavas then indeed built this beautiful temple in one night. Impressed by the bhakti (devotion) of the Pandavas, the Goddess blessed them and granted the boon that they will not be discovered by anybody during their ajñātavāsam (secret exile). The Goddess is an avatār of Renuka Devi.
However, the carbon dating states that the shrines were developed over two periods – from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD, and from the 5th century AD to the 10th century.
The temple is located on a hill. One needs to ascend around 500 steps to reach the temple. It is surrounded by Karla caves, which are now protected by the Archeological department. While the main deity is Ekvīrā Mātā, to her left is Jogeśvarī Devi. One gets an excellent view of the surrounding from the hill top. Halfway down the hill, there is a temple for the holy feet of the Goddess.
8 km from Lonavala. One can use state transport buses to travel from Lonavala to the temple. Auto Rikshaws are also available  5 km from Central Point Lonavala (Shivneri Bus stop). 49 km from Pune (Maharashtra). 97 km from Mumbai (Maharashtra).
Layers of History II, Karla Caves and The Ekveera Temple
Ekvira Devi Temple Photo: Ekveera devi temple
Wherever you are in India, you are a witness to several historical eras juxtaposed together, like several geological eras in a single sedimentary rock. This is true whether you are in Colaba or Karla.
The Karla Caves sit atop a mountain in the Sahyadri range. The cave complex is made up of the largest Chaitya or prayer hall in India and the Viharas which serve as living quarters for the monks. If the cave temple complex is a relic of India’s distant Buddhist past, the present is represented by a much smaller temple dedicated to Ekveera Devi. In fact, most of the visitors to Karla are Hindu pilgrims. Ekveera, is the kuldevata (literal translation: clan deity, roughly like the Catholic patron saint) of the Kolis, the fisher folk who were Bombay’s original inhabitants. She has also been adopted as kuldevata by many other Marathi speaking communities of Bombay.
The Ekveera Devi temple is one among many temples in Maharashtra that sit atop a mountain. Some are behind impressive fortifications while others are tucked away in plain sight next to Buddhist cave temples from another era. Their location makes sense when you realize that higher altitudes are cooler during the summer and offer a measure of safety along with a peaceful place to meditate and contemplate. Watching the sun go down in the Western Ghatsis a spiritual experience in and of itself.
Karla Cave Temple Complex and Ekveera Devi Temple
Entrance to the Prayer Hall and the Ekveera Devi Temple
Living Quarters for the Buddhist Monks
A View of from the Top
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