Ekvira Aai Temple
Aai in Marathi language refers to Mother. Ekvira aai temple is situated in the Karla caves. These are the caves that were built by the Buddhist in order to pray. The caves have both Buddhist and Hindu influence. This is a result of the long tenure the caves took to be completed. Temples are an integral part of any Indian worship place. Since the caves were used to worship by the Buddhists there is a temple situated in these caves called the Ekvira aai temple. Ekvira goddess is a part of the Hindu deity. She is worshipped in parts of India and Nepal. She is referred to as mother of chiranjivi (immortal sage) Parshurama. Parshurama has followers in Nepal too. Ekvira aai is also referred as Renuka in the different parts of the country.
The temple is right next to the caves. The temple is mostly visited by the people of Agri-koli (fisher-man). However it is not exclusive, there are lots of other communities who visit this temple. Originally there were three shrines built in the same row. Maha-mandapa, varsha-mandapa and gopura are situated in front of these three shrines. The shrines are further surrounded by additional sixteen shrines. Every temple has its own importance in the Indian culture.Especially a temple like this situated at an elevated region along with a Buddhist worship place has much importance.
The legends have mentioned that the temple was built by Pandavas. During their exile in the forests they built the Ekvira aai temple. It is said that Ekvira mata came in front of them and hence they built this temple. The interesting part of the story is that ekviraa goddess asked them to build this temple over night to check their work ethic. The Pandavas succeeded in building the temple overnight. Ekvira goddess blessed the pandavas with a ‘wardan’. She blessed them that they would not be discovered by anyone during their secret exile. That’s how the temple gains its importance in the Indian culture. The temple like the cave has a tough terrain and hence choice of vehicle should be wise.