Jejuri is a city and a municipal council in Pune district in the Western Indian state of Maharashtra. It is famous for the main temple of Lord Khandoba.

A famous religious and pilgrimage destination it derives its importance from the religious fairs held in honour of the God Khandoba, another form of Lord Shiva, who is also called Bahiroba, Malhari and Martand. Jejuri has two Khandoba temples. The new large temple is located near Jejuri and at a height of 800 meters above the mean sea level on Jayadri Parvat. The second temple is at a distance of 4.4 kms from jejuri built on a small plateau known as Kade Pathar.

The city is also called Khandobachi Jejuri (Lord Khandoba’s Jejuri). Unlike the Lingam form, Khandoba is often seen as a warrior riding a horse. He has a huge sword (Khadga) that he uses to kill the demons. The name Khandoba is derived from this word – Khadga. Some people believe that Khandoba is an amalgamation of the Gods – Shiva, Bhairava (ferocious form of Shiva), the Sun god and Karthikeya.

He is the most popular family deity in Maharashtra, the patron deity of Deshastha brahmin, warrior, farming and herding castes, the hunters and gatherers of the hills and forests. The cult of Khandoba has linkages with Vaishnava and Jain traditions, and also assimilates all communities irrespective of caste, including Muslims.

The legends of Khandoba, found in the text Malhari Mahatmya and also narrated in folk songs, revolve around his victory over demons Mani-malla and his marriages.

There are various stone images of elephants on either sides of the main gateway of the new temple. On the right hand side of the gate is an object resembling a Shiva-ling, around which a niche known as the ‘Isavalakacha bhunga’ is built. The entire flat plateau above the hill is surrounded by a stone pavement in the center, of which stands the Khandoba shrine.

The whole courtyard is surrounded by arched aisles on sides, from which highly ornate balconies with cypress pillars and cusped arches project out. This enclosure has three gateways. The temple faces the east. The outermost portion is an arched portico- consisting of a square mandap and garbhagriha. Over the portico, a big ‘Khanda’ sword, an attribute of the god is hung. In the garbhagriha, there are two swayambhu lingas, that of Khandoba and the other representing Mhalsa, his consort, covered with silver masks. The noticeable features outside the temple are a stone tortoise; a small cell used for performing the rites of Bagad; and a giant image of demon Mani.

To commemorate Khandoba’s victory of Malla and Mani, a six day fair is held every year at Jejuri. This fair takes place during the Hindu month of Margashirsha. The last day is called Champa Shashti and fasts are done on this day by devotees seeking the lord’s blessings.

Sonyachi Jejuri’- The Golden Jejuri 

The Bhandara festival is celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm amongst devotees of lord Khandoba, at Jejuri. The festival takes place on Somvati Amavasya– a new moon day that falls on a Monday. It usually happens two or three times a year.

In the day -long celebration at the temple at Khandoba , devotees throw turmeric on each other and all around, filling the air and the skies in beautiful hues of golden. This is why the temple premises is called the ‘Sonyachi Jejuri’ which translates to ‘The Golden Jejuri’. Devotees also chant and shout out hymns in praise of Lord Khanoba like ‘Yelkot Yelkot Jai Malhar’, ‘Sadanandache Yelkot’. Lord Khanoba is also called Malhar for the immense power he possesses. Immersed in turmeric, devotees sing and dance invoking the deity in their prayers. The procession sees thousands of devotees waiting to touch the palki or palenquin, which carries the deity for a bath from the temple on the hill to the Karha River. On the auspicious day the Palki is taken from the main temple situated at the hilltop carrying the idols of Lord Khandoba and his wife Malsha for a holy bath in the river Karha.

One of the main visual attractions of Jejuri is the deepmaala, or garland of lights. It consists of two tall, vertical columns carved in black stone. When lit up on a moonless night, the shimmering flood of light created by this stone garland is enough to rival the molten gold of turmeric that forever adorns the steps of Jejuri.



Leave a Reply