Fêtes & Cérémonies

Ekvira Temple: Unveiling Maharashtra’s Spiritual Gem

Nestled among the scenic hills of Maharashtra, the Ekvira Temple is a testament to spiritual devotion and architectural brilliance. It sits atop the verdant Sahyadri range. This sacred site holds a revered place in the hearts of countless devotees seeking solace, blessings, and a connection with the divine.

With its rich history, captivating mythology, and stunning natural surroundings, the Ekvira Temple offers not just a pilgrimage destination but a captivating journey of time and faith. This article will explore this ancient marvel, uncovering its secrets, significance, and the profound aura that continues to draw visitors from far and wide.

Ekvira Temple: An Overview

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The Ekvira Aai Mandir is a Hindu temple near the Karla Caves in Lonavala, Maharashtra, India. This ancient place of worship believed to be over 2,000 years old, is particularly revered by the Aagri and Koli communities. Climbing around 500 steps takes you to the temple complex, which offers scenic views alongside its spiritual significance.

The architecture combines South Indian and Dravidian styles, and the main sanctum houses Ekvira Devi and Jogaśvarī Devi. Though initially more extensive, the central and southern shrines are the most well-preserved today. Notably, the temple coexists peacefully with the nearby Karla Caves, a monument to Buddhist heritage.

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Ekvira Temple: History

A serene depiction of Ekvira Devi, inspiring devotion and reverence

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According to legend, the Pandavas constructed the temple during their 14-year exile in the forest. The Ekvira goddess appeared before them and issued a divine command to build a temple for her before dawn. The Pandavas, true to their word, worked tirelessly overnight to complete the temple.

Their unwavering devotion moved the goddess, who granted them a boon. The boon allowed them to remain undiscovered during their exile. Beyond this captivating legend, the temple holds significance for the Agri and Koli communities, who revere Ekvira as their Kuladevi, or family deity.

The temple complex itself reflects this deep connection. Initially, it consisted of three similar shrines built in a row facing west. The exact date of construction remains elusive, and the temple’s existence predates on documented history. Its presence right next to the ancient Buddhist Karla Caves showcases the region’s unique blend of religious influences, highlighting the tolerance and peaceful coexistence that has characterised Indian culture for centuries.

Ekvira Temple: Design and Structure

Immersing in the Beauty of Ekvira Temple

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The Ekvira Aai mandir complex stands adjacent to the Karla Caves. These caves are a group of rock-cut Buddhist monuments dating back to the 2nd century BC.

The Ekvira Temple complex originally consisted of three similar shrines built in a row facing west. Today, only the central and southern shrines remain intact, while the layout of the others can be discerned from the temple’s plan. Inside the central shrine, devotees worship the main deity, Ekvira Devi, alongside a murti (statue) of Jogeśvarī Devi.

Sixteen smaller shrines dedicated to various Parivar Devatas (associated deities) surround the main shrines. Additionally, two large structures, the Maha-mandapa and Varsha-mandapa, stand before the main shrines, providing spacious areas for worship and celebrations.

The temple’s entrance is marked by a gopura, an ornately decorated gateway. Reaching the temple, which sits atop a hill, requires climbing approximately 500 steps. The surrounding area is steeped in history, with the Karla caves, once a Buddhist centre, located nearby and protected as an archaeological site.

The Ekvira Temple is a testament to faith, devotion, and the enduring connection between mythology and reality. Its rich history and architectural beauty continue to attract pilgrims seeking solace and blessings.

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How to Reach Ekvira Temple?

The captivating view of Shiva Parvati statue in Kailasagiri Hill Park.

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By Road

You can reach the Ekvira temple via the Mumbai-Pune expressway (about 32.1 Km) or the older Mumbai-Pune highway (about 31 Km) that runs parallel to the expressway. After reaching Lonavala, drive towards Pune for about 10 Km. You will find a large gate on the left leading to the Ekvira Aai Temple.

By Rail

The nearest railway station to the Ekvira temple is Lonavala Railway Station (around 115 Km). You can take a local taxi or auto-rickshaw to reach the temple.

By Air

Pune Airport is the closest airport to the Ekvira temple, approximately 62 Km away. You can hire a private taxi from the airport to the temple.

Ekvira Temple: Opening and Pooja Timings

Pooja at the Ekvira Temple

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The Ekvira temple opens its doors to devotees during the following hours:

Days Timings (Morning) Timings (Evening)
Monday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Tuesday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Wednesday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Thursday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Friday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Saturday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm
Sunday 5:00 am to 12:00 pm 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm

The Maha aarti (grand ritual) takes place at 5:00 am and 7:00 pm in the Ekvira temple.

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Popular Festivals Celebrated at Ekvira Temple

Navratri celebration at Ekvira Aai Mandir.

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Various festivals are celebrated here in honour of Ekvira Devi. The critical festivals observed at the Ekvira temple are:

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1. Navaratri

Enjoy the Navaratri festival.

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This principal festival at the Ekvira Devi temple spans nine nights and is dedicated to worshipping the divine feminine. During this period, the temple is adorned with flowers and illuminations, and devotees congregate to offer prayers and partake in sacred rituals.

2. Chaitra Purnima

Witness the Chaitra Purnima.

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Another notable festival observed at the temple, Chaitra Purnima, holds spiritual significance. It marks the full moon day in the Hindu month of Chaitra. Devotees visit the temple, engage in rituals, and express their devotion.

3. Ashwin Purnima

Seek the divine blessings from Ashwin Purnima at Ekvira Temple.

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During this festival, many devotees visit the temple to offer prayers, participate in rituals, and seek divine blessings.

4. Ganesh Chaturthi

The famous festival at Ekvira temple is Ganesh Chaturthi.

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Celebrated with great fervour, Ganesh Chaturthi honours Lord Ganesha’s birth. Devotees bring idols of Lord Ganesha to the temple, perform elaborate rituals, and immerse the idols in water bodies as a symbolic farewell.

5. Holi

Joyous festival of colours ‘Holi.’

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Known as the “festival of colours,” Holi is joyously celebrated at the Ekvira temple. Devotees come together, playfully smearing each other with vibrant hues, and revel in unity and joy.

6. Mahashivratri

Participate in the night-long vigils of Mahashivratri.

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This festival reveres Lord Shiva and is observed with immense enthusiasm. Devotees fast, chant prayers, and participate in night-long vigils, seeking blessings from Lord Shiva.

Ekvira Temple: Things to Remember

Visitors must dress as per the dress code.

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Some important things to remember when visiting the Ekvira temple:

  • Access: The temple is easily accessible by both local and private transportation. The nearest railway station is Lonavala and the nearest is Pune Airport.
  • Hours of Operation: The temple welcomes visitors from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and again from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Prayer Schedule: The Maha aarti is performed at 5:00 am and 7:00 pm.
  • Dress Code: Visitors are advised to dress modestly by local customs and traditions.
  • Etiquette: Silence is to be maintained within the temple premises.
  • Environment: Visitors are encouraged to respect the environment and keep the area clean.

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Things to do Near Ekvira Temple

Plan your day by visiting these famous places near Ekvira Temple.

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Alongside your visit to the Ekvira temple, below are some delightful activities and attractions to explore in the area:

1. Karla Caves

View the intricate carvings of Karla caves, near Ekvira Temple.

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The Karla Caves are ancient rock-cut Buddhist caves dating back to the 2nd century BCE. These caves boast intricate carvings, grand pillars, and serene meditation halls. The main chaitya (prayer hall) is a remarkable architectural marvel.

2. Della Adventure Park

Experience the thrill like no other.

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For thrill-seekers, Della Adventure Park awaits! It’s an adrenaline-packed destination with activities like ziplining, ATV rides, rock climbing, and more. The lush green surroundings add to the excitement.

3. Shree Narayani Dham Temple

Near Ekvira Temple is Shree Narayani Dham Temple.

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This serene temple near Ekvira Temple is dedicated to Goddess Narayani. The peaceful ambience and beautiful architecture make it an excellent spot for contemplation.

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4. Western Ghats

Breathtaking view of Western Ghats.

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The Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surround Lonavala. Explore the lush green hills, misty valleys, and diverse flora and fauna. Nature enthusiasts will find plenty of hiking trails and viewpoints.

5. Lohagad Fort

Trek to Lohagad Fort, near Ekvira Temple.

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Go on a trek to Lohagad Fort, which offers panoramic views of the Sahyadri Mountains. The fort’s history and rugged terrain make it an exciting adventure.

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A visit to Ekvira temple in Maharashtra is a journey into the heart of spirituality and history. From its picturesque setting amidst lush greenery to its rich cultural significance, this sacred site offers an unforgettable experience for travellers seeking serenity and enlightenment.

Interested in exploring the mystic charm of Ekvira Aai temple and the picturesque hill station of Lonavala? Plan your trip to Lonavala and you will be spellbound by the beauty and serenity of this ancient spiritual haven.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Ekvira Temple

What is Ekvira temple famous for?

The Ekvira Aai Mandir is a Hindu temple near the Karla Caves, Lonavala and Mumbai in Maharashtra. It is dedicated to Goddess Ekvira, whom Hindus and people of other faiths revere. The temple is a place of worship for the Koli and Agri communities. Alongside the main deity, Jogesvari Devi is also worshipped here.

How many steps are in Ekvira temple?

There are approximately 500 steps that you need to climb to reach the temple.

Did Pandavas build Ekvira temple?

According to mythology, the Pandavas constructed the Ekvira Aai temple while exiled in the jungle. When they reached this sacred spot, Ekvira Mata told them to build a temple for her. To test their dedication, the Goddess insisted on completing the structure overnight. Impressed by their loyalty, she praised the Pandavas and promised them that their secret exile would stay hidden.

How old is Ekvira temple?

The exact age of the Ekvira Temple is not specified. Still, according to the legends, it was built by the Pandavas during their 14-year exile. This place of worship has been a place of worship for many centuries.

Is Ekvira a Shakti Peeth?

While the Ekvira Temple is not considered a Shakti Peeth, it holds immense significance for devotees seeking blessings and prosperity. The temple’s association with the Koli community and its hilltop location make it a revered pilgrimage site.

What is the Best Time to Visit Ekvira Temple?

The optimal times to visit the Ekvira temple are during the winter season, between November and February, or the rainy season, between July and September.

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