(Last Updated on : 22/01/2009)
Walkeshwar Temple is situated in Walkeshwar Road, close enough to Malabar Hill. The legend has it that, Ram and Lakshman had arrived here in search of Sita. According to the legend, Hindu God Ram had paused at this particular spot on his way to Lanka from Ayodhya, in pursuit of the demon Ravana, who had kidnapped his wife, Sita. He had constructed a lingam (phallus representing Shiva), made of sand, having been tired of waiting for his brother, Lakshman to bring a lingam for puja (worship). The name is derived from the Sanskrit name for an idol made of sand- Valuka Iswar.
There was no availability of fresh water in that area, so, when Ram was thirsty, he shot an arrow and brought the Ganga over there. While this legend unfolds the Ram- Sita story, another legend again unfurls the fact that how Parashuram, fired an arrow, straight from the mainland. However, Walkeshwar Temple`s nearness to the sea, the water that feeds the tank here comes from an underground spring at that spot and the attached freshwater Banganga Tank was built in 1127 AD by Lakshman Prabhu, a minister in the court of Silhara Dynasty Kings who ruled Thane, and the islands of Mumbai during 810 to 1240 AD. The Portuguese destroyed Walkeshwar Temple during their rule of Mumbai in the 16th century. A Mumbai businessman and philanthropist, Rama Kamath, (a Saraswat Brahmin, known as `Kamati` in the British era) rebuilt it in 1715. It has been thoroughly reconstructed ever since.
One of the oldest structures on the site is the Venkateshwar Balaji Mandir, a Peshwa era temple with a wooden canopy, dating back to 1789. Another elegant structure is the Rameshwar Mandir, probably built in 1825. But; all of this is in urgent need of repair and cleaning. Walkeshwar Temple is normally busy during the full moon and at the amavasya (no moon) days. In the past times, it had been a favourite with the Malabar pirates, who used to frequent the island in the 16th and 17th centuries. Currently, it is the venue of an annual Hindustani classical music festival, which featured classical singers like Rajan and Sajan Mishra, and santoor maestro Shivkumar Sharma, in their gala in 2005. On its western side of the bank, a branch of the Shri Kashi Math, a famous religious seat of Saraswat Brahmins, is located.
Banganga, Mumbai, is located at the end of the Walkeshwar Road. It is found in the lane beyond Ghanshyamdas Sitaram Poddar Chowk. There is no dearth of transport facilities in a city like Mumbai, buses, auto-rickshaws, taxis are readily available, by which the selected destination can be reached.
Around the Banganga, several shopping spots can be seen, providing excellent opportunity for a tourist to dive in for their favourites. Crawford market is very popular for its fruits, flowers, meat and fish. The Mereweather Road behind the Taj Mahal Hotel has a unique collection of colourful and innovative carpets. The Central Cottage Industries Emporium and Khadi Village Industries Emporium is also located here, having fixed price tags for products exclusive to their domain.
Prominent Saraswats and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation look into the maintenance of the Walkeshwar Temple on a regular basis.