PLACES

PUNTAMBA

Located in 1945' north latitude and 7435' east longitude twelve miles south-east of Kopargaon, the taluka head-quarters with in 1971 a population of 17,338, Puntamba is a large market town with a railway station on the Daund-Manmad railway, and is pleasantly situated on the bank of the river Godavari. It is the second biggest town in the Kopargaon taluka and nourishes behavioural traits organised through different institutions which contribute towards the socio-economic development of the town and the district. It is an electrified town provided with the facilities such as a State Transport bus-stand, a post and telegraph office, two commercial banks, six credit co-operative societies, a godown for storing grains and seven dispensaries including a veterinary dispensary. Wells and the Godavari river form the sources of water-supply. The educational institutions include an agricultural school with 200 acres of land, five primary schools, two high schools and three libraries. There is also one akhada or talim. Besides, the town has two dharmashalas, three maths, a chavadi, a church, a dargah and four mosques. The weekly market is held on every Monday.

Puntamba has sixteen temples of Maruti, six temples of Mahadev, three temples of Vitthal, two temples of Datta, and one each of Laxmi-Narayan and Changdev Maharaj. There are low flights of steps or ghats to the Godavari one of which was built by Ahilyabai Holkar, the great temple-building princess of Indore (1765-1795) and another by one Shri Shivram Dumal. The chief temple is of about the middle of the seventeenth century and belongs to Changdev, a famous saint said to have lived for 1,400 years. It is stated that the saint used to absorb himself in devout contemplation after every hundred years at different places, Puntamba being the last place where he had his fourteenth meditation. There is a legend about Changdev who, it is said, was very proud of his supernatural powers. He went to visit Dnyaneshvar, the noted saint-poet, by riding upon a tiger, and using a poisonous cobra as a whip. The saint decided to humiliate Changdev by deriding his supernatural powers and made the inanimate masonry wall on which he was sitting with his brothers and sister move to meet the approaching Changdev. On seeing this strange spectacle Changdev lost all his pride, bowed in submission to Dnyaneshvar and asked for his forgiveness.

Though very old, the temple of Changdev Maharaj is a simple structure with a mandap of 50'x30', open on all sides and covered with a roof of corrugated iron sheets having slope on four sides supported by a wooden frame and ten uncarved wooden pillars about eight feet in height. There is a small quadrangular gabhara wherein small idols of Vitthal and Rakhumai of black stone, facing east are placed. One can enter the gabhara through a small door. However, one cannot see the samadhi of Changdev which is just at the backside of the idol as there is no entrance from the gabhara to the samadhi. The samadhi is built in well-dressed black stone in a quadrangular form of 6'x4' and paved with marbles, at the centre of which two foot-prints of marble are placed on a little raised platform under a small dome of about 4 feet in height. One has to ascend a flight of steps to see the foot-prints. The temple including the samadhi is surrounded by a wall 100'X70' built in mud and stone at a distance of about 10' on all the sides of the temple. Besides, the Godavari which flows to the west of the temple provides a delightful scenic background. The place is most important for its big fair which is held annually in Kartik (October-November). It is attended by about twenty-five thousand people from all over the district.

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