Saptshrungi Devi Vani
Hindu almanac considers three and half days as highly auspicious. They are Gudipadwa - Hindu's New Year, Dushhera, Diwali and Akshaytritiya. Likewisedwelling places of Goddesses in Maharashtra are famous. Tuljapur where Tulja Bhawani dwells, Kolhapur, the dwelling place of Ambabhavani, and Mahur where Kulaswamini dwells. Saptashringa Garh where Goddess Bhagawati dwells is half as important as any of the earlier mentioned places of Goddesses in Maharashtra. Saptashringa means the mountain having seven peaks. It is around 55 kms away from Nashik. Nanduri village is situated at the foot of the Saptashringa Garh. The road to the temple is zig - zag and climbs around 11 kms till it reaches the top. In front of the temple there stands Markandeya Rishi's (sage) hill. The Saptashringa Garh is full of a variety of trees having medicinal worth. As per the story in the epic Ramayana, Hanuman carried the herbal medicine for wounded Laxmana from this hill. There are about 108 water reservoirs on the hill. They are called as Kundas..
As you go a little further from the temple there is a peak called Sheetkada and a deep valley. It is approximately 1500 feet deep. An anecdote attached to this place goes like this. A lady prayed and urged Goddess Bhagawati to give her a son. If her wish was fulfilled by the Goddess, as a gesture of gratitude, she offered to jump in the valley, sitting in a bullock-cart. It is said that since she got a son, the lady kept her promise and did jump along with her son sitting in a bullock-cart in the valley. The marks of bullock-cart are still visible on the Sheetkada. The Sheetakada is at the height of approximately 4638feet from the sea level. The Goddess Bhagawati is also called as Wani Goddess. On reaching the top of the hill, one still has to climb 470 steps to reach the temple. Old records show that these steps were built by Umabai Dabhade in 1710.
Idol of Goddess
Saptashringi Goddess is known as Khandesh's Goddess. Devotees from Chalisgaon, Jalgaon, Malegaon and Dhulia visit this temple frequently. The idol of the Goddess is set at a height, so that she can be seen from a distance too. She has 9 pairs of arms, holding different weapons. Her sparkling eyes, slightly inflated nostrils wearing Nath (an ornament to be worn in the nose) and 18 hands look very attractive.Every full moon day and during Navaratri the temple is crowded with devotees. The Goddess is offered coconuts and sarees. The Goddess is also called as Mahishasur Mardini. A story in this connection is that Demon Mahishasur was creating problem for Markendaya Rishi. Markendaya had made a Holy Fire to eliminate him. The Goddess emerged with 9 pairs of arms holding different weapons from theoly Fire and eliminated the Demon. Hence Mahishasur Mardini, meaning the one who slayed Mahishasur.
Significance of the Flag
The Holy Flag of Goddess Bhagawati flutters in the north of Saptashringa Garh. hoisting of the Flag is a privilege of a particular family. The ritual of Flag hoisting on a specific day is witnessed by thousands ofdevotees. People believe that the Goddess fulfills their wishes. So this place is frequented by devotees throughout the year.
Of late, this place has been renovated. Railings on the road side have been constructed. The staircasehas been covered to protect devotees from sun and rain. Two separate routes for going up and coming down are built. To take rest while climbing the 470 steps, benches at certain intervals have been placed.For a night's halt, Dharmashala (caravansaray) is arranged by the Trustees. They make blankets and mattresses available to the visitors. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has built rest housesthere. Literature about the Goddess , photos, coconuts and saries for offering to the Goddess areavailable. Priests help tourists to perform Puja. Low cost but clean food is also available in the Priest's houses.