Saswad “Punyabhoomi”


Saswad “Punyabhoomi” - place visited by Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on his South India Tour.

Saswad is a municipal council located on the South-Eastern corridor of Pune district of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Situated on the banks of the Karha River it is about 31 km from Pune Railway Station. Saswad also has a long history with a strategic location on the ancient trade route connecting the coastal Konkan ports to the Deccan interiors.

Apart from its trade history, Saswad is also well known for its historic and spiritual significance. Historically, Saswad is well known as a town at the foot of the historic Purandar fort. It has a legacy from Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose first son, Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj took birth at Purandar fort. The first Peshwa from the Bhat family, Balaji Vishwanath had his base in Saswad. His son, Bajirao I moved his base in 1720 to Pune and turned that place into a large city by constructing the most attractive palace of the name Shaniwar wada. Bajirao's family built the Sangameshwar temple in the 1720s. During the 18th century, Saswad was the seat of the Purandare family, hereditary knights of the Peshwa.

Shriman Acharya Atre, a socialist leader, Marathi writer and filmmaker was born at Saswad. Apart from being the leader of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement he has authored many books on this movement. The most famous of them all is known as “Karheche pani”, (कऱ्हेचे पाणी).
In the remembrance of this great Marathi author, 87th Akhil Baratiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan was organized in Saswad in 2014 and ISKCON Saswad made its prominent presence in the form of Book Stall and Prasad Distribution.

Maharashtra Bhushan, Padmavibhushan, Shivshahir Babasaheb Purandare was also from Saswad. Being an historian, he mentioned that Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu while on his tour to South India also visited Pandharpur (Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita, Madhya lila, 9.282). While traveling further from Pandharpur to Mumbai he passed through Jejuri and delivered devi dasis over there at “Khandoba mandir”. It is also mentioned that he passed through this holy land of Saswad and went ahead to Pune to visit Parvati temple. So in that sense, Saswad is also a very significant place for all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

Spiritually, it is mentioned that the great king of demigods, Indra performed austerities on a mountain and is named as Purandar (after the name of King Indra). This taluka also receives its name after this great mountain on which Purandar fort was constructed. One of the great saints of Madhva sampradaya, Purandar das also hails from this holy place of Saswad.

A beautiful temple of the Karha river personified - Karhabai, stands on the banks of this holy river, very close to the famous Sangameshwar Temple. This river is named as Karha, as it comes from the hands of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma was sitting in meditation at a very nearby place, now called Brahmagiri mountain. Some water fell off from his “kamandalu” and the stream started flowing which is now known as the river Karha. In order to collect the water Brahmaji ran behind the stream and on the way many rice grains fell down. Wherever the rice grains touched the ground there we now find Shivalinga. And hence there are many Shivalingas on the bank of this holy river Karha.

Saswad hosts three out of many temples erected by Pandavas during their exile period - Vateshwar Temple, Sangameshwar Temple and Siddheshwar Temple. These temples have seen various stages of destruction and re-erection in history. Saswad also marks a very prominent halting place for the annual Wari (walking festival) of Varkaris walking all the way from Alandi to Pandharpur. Around 6-7 lacs of Varkaris walk and reach on the auspicious day of Ekadashi (11th lunar day) of Ashadha month. ISKCON Saswad takes the opportunity to serve thousands of Varkaris through noon Khichadi prasad and medical relief stalls.

Saswad also marks the samadhi of Sant Sopan dev, the elder brother of Saint Dnyaneshwar. It is said that when Sant Sopan dev was making arrangements for his samadhi, Lord Vitthal came all the way from Pandharpur to meet him. There is a very significant place on Jejuri road where Lord Vitthal halted for some time and now a very beautiful temple stands there to remember this event of the name “Vitthal Visawa Mandir”.

Very close by is the holy place of the name Walha, where the great sage Valmiki Muni performed tapasya under the guidance of Sri Narada Muni.

And now, ISKCON also has a good footing in Saswad with a nice 3 storey center of the name, “Sri Pandurang Bhavan” with a beautiful temple hall with a capacity of 250 devotees.