Jejuri is a city located around 50 km from Pune. It is famous for its huge Khandoba Temple, that stands on top of a hill. Large amounts of turmeric are thrown all around the temple all day long. Khandoba is considered as a manifestation of Lord Shiva. He is worshiped in the form of a Lingam, or an image of a Maratha warrior riding a white horse and brandishing a sword.
The festival of Somvati Amavasya is celebrated at the temple if a new moon day falls on a Monday. During this festival, a huge palkhi with Khandoba’s idols and images is carried from the temple to the Karha river, where they are washed.
I went to Jejuri for a 2-day travel photography tour with DCP Expeditions to witness the glorious festival of Somvati Amavasya. This would be my first temple photography trip with my new DSLR camera, the Nikon D5300.
The Khandoba Temple resembles a fort and the capital of Khandoba’s kingdom is Jejuri. The path to the temple is littered with so many shops and you can see devotees covered in turmeric all around.
It is a real visual treat for street photographers. What really amazed me is that the people were very happy at getting their photograph clicked by us. I did not find a single shopkeeper or devotee who did not give us permission to let us click their picture.
The temple stands on top of a hill; this means we had to climb more than 400 steps to reach the top. But as I was clicking a lot of pictures and recording videos all the way, the 400-plus steps turned into a fun activity. Plus, the view of the lush green hills offers great company along the way.
I have never seen such a huge crowd at a temple before. There was a serpentine queue of people waiting to seek darshan, another huge crowd in front of the temple throwing bhandara (turmeric mixed with coconut) all around, people gearing up for the palkhi, devotees singing and dancing, and pujaris roaming all around. You can spend hours in the temple area. Photography is prohibited inside the main temple; but the temple grounds can give you great shots as they are flooded with activity. One can find many sculptures near and outside the Jejuri temple. The temple looks so extravagant and beautiful in the golden hues of turmeric. Thus, it is called ‘Sonyachi Jejuri’.
The best part about the temple is that people of all faiths are welcome here. Khandoba is also worshiped by Muslims. It is believed that Khandoba’s powers forced Aurangzeb to leave Jejuri during an invasion. Muslims refer to Khandoba as Ajmat Khan or Mallu Khan.
After sunset, devotees started playing drums and dancing to offer their love to Khandoba. A gigantic red flag was hoisted and carried all around the temple premises. When it started getting dark, we left the temple with our memory cards full, clothes covered in turmeric, and hearts full of wonder.
I gained so many insights about travel and street photography on this trip. It was a real pain to carry my heavy gear all the way up the temple and protect my gear from damage by the turmeric and crowd. But no pain, no gain. We learn new things only when we come out of our comfort zone and do something different.
HOW TO REACH
Train: There are 2 direct trains from Mumbai to Jejuri – Koyna Express and Sahyadri Expres. The rail distance between Mumbai and Jejuri is around 142 km and it takes around 4 hours to reach.
Road: You can also drive all the way to Jejuri like I did. Jejuri is around 200 km away from Mumbai by road.
Bus: There are no direct buses between Mumbai and Jejuri. You have to take a bus to Pune, then another bus from Pune to Jejuri.
Air: The nearest airport is Lohegaon Airport, Pune, which is around 45 km away from Jejuri.
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