This post provides detailed information on Gondavale,how to reach there and the daily activities.
Gondavale (Budruk) is a small town with a population of about 6,000,in Satara District in Maharashtra,about 64 kilometres from Satara,on Satara-Pandharpur road.
The nearest International airport is at Bombay,and the nearest National airport is at Pune. The distance from Bombay to Gondavale by road,via Pune,is approximately 340 km,Pune being about 160 km away from Gondavale. There are a number of daily bus services operated by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation from Pune to Gondavale or beyond. The journey takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes. It is possible to make a one day return journey from Pune. Bus services are also available from Bombay,Sangli,Solapur,Pandharpur,Karad,Thane,Satara etc. There is no rail connection direct to Gondavale,The nearest railway station is Koregaon on Pune-Miraj line,which is 47 km away from Gondavale..
The Samadhi Mandir of Shri Maharaj,the place where he was cremated,is about 200 meters from the bus stand of Gondavale. The sacred Samadhi is in the basement,and on the floor above it,the idol of Shri Gopalkrishna is installed,symbolising that the place was originally a stable of cows. Shri Maharaj was very much devoted to cows and had expressed his wish to rest there. In this campus surrounding the Samadhi Mandir,are the temple of Shri Aaisaheb,the second consort of Shri Maharaj,meditation halls,stable of cows,kitchen hall,book-shop,etc.
The daily programme in the Samadhi Mandir begins at 4-45 am. with prayers,and continues almost throughout the day with a variety of prayers,recitations and periods of nama-smarana,till about 9-45 pm. Besides the daily routine,special celebrations are held on the following occasions –(Month and date as observed at Pandharpur)-
(1) Shri Rama navami-Chaitra Shuddha 1 to 9 (Approx –March-April).
(2) Shri Guru Pournima- Vyasa Puja-Ashadha Shuddha 8 to 15 (Approx.
(3) Janmashtami. –Gokul Ashtami –Shravana Vadya Krishna Bahula 1 to 8 (Approx. August- Sept.).
(4) Shri Maharaj Punyatithi –Departure Day Anniversary. Margashirsha
Vadya Krishna –Bahula 1 to 10 (Approx,December –January)
There is usually a very large turn out of devotees during the above festivals,especially,Guru Pournima and Shri Maharaj Punyatithi. There are frequent and regular visitors on each Thursday and Pournima (full moon) day.
The devotees belong to all strata of society and they are from all castes and other religions also.
Nearby,in the town,is the house where Shri Maharaj was born and lived. The idols of Shri Rama,Laxman and Seeta were installed by Shri Maharaj himself,and were a part of his residence,and the place is called ‘Elder’Ram Mandir. It completed hundred years of its existence in 1992 and the temple has been beautifully renovated on the occasion. Shri Maharaj had great devotion and love for these idols. He had the firm conviction and faith that they were not idols but God Himself. He always used to earnestly urge everybody to see ‘his’Rama first on a visit to Gondavale.
In addition to the above,the town has other three temples established by Shri Maharaj,like the ‘Younger’Ram Mandir,Shri Datta Mandir,Shri Shani Mandir. The idols of Shri Vitthal-Rakhumai,the deity of Pandharpur,found by the grand- father of Shri Maharaj by the grace of God through a vision,are also in the same campus around the ‘Elder’Rama Mandir.
Shri Maharaj had made his will for the management and maintenance of these sacred places. According to this the Board of Trustees is looking after these places.
Shri Maharaj was very particular during his life time,not to demand,not even to expect anything from the visiting devotees or for that matter from anyone. On the contrary,he saw to it that everybody visiting him was fed properly without any distinction. His only expectation from the visitors was that they pick up and adhere to chanting of nama. By the grace of Shri Maharaj,this tradition has been maintained till today. Strict punctuality in the programmes,voluntary services of all kinds by the devotees and the overall discipline based on mutual respect,love and understanding are some unique features of Gondavale.
The climate of Gondavale is hot in the summer months and moderate in most part of the remaining months. However,during December- January it is quite cold and woolens are required. Rains are scanty and usually occur in August-September.