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Rock Solid

An elderly couple is exhibiting a repository of unique rocks that they have collected from over 16,000 temples in the state

An elderly couple is exhibiting a repository of unique rocks that they have collected from over 16,000 temples in the state

When Moreshwar Kunte was “frustrated with his mundane life” at the age of 50,he decided to quit his job as an administration officer at Garware Nylons in Pimpri and explore various temples in the state. Once the decision was made,he waited for another three years for his three sons to finish college. It was then that he and his wife packed their bags and set off on their Bajaj MAT scooter. The journey began in November1991 with a trip to Ratnagiri.

“My aim was to compile an encyclopedia of sorts of the temples in Maharashtra. Whenever we had a holiday,I would take my wife to visit a temple in or around Pune. We would leave early in the morning and come back late evening. So,when we were done with our basic parental duties,we took out time for ourselves to do what we always wanted to,” says Kunte,who is 74 now.

The couple would pick a district in Maharashtra and visit all the temples in the area. After their visit to Ratnagiri,which lasted about four months,they also travelled to Marathwada,Vidharba,Konkan,Kolhapur,Nagpur,Sangli and Satara.

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On Tuesday,Kunte put up an exhibition at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum which pertains to his exploits. “Earlier,we used to go to temples and gather information but now,since we have a large database of information and photographs,we take all the material along and put up exhibitions,” says Kunte,who just returned to Pune after displaying his collection at Akola,Ajmer,Chiploon,Amravati and Kolhapur.

He,along with his wife,made it to the Limca Book of World Records for visiting 13,000 temples and clicking photographs to document them. Three years later,they broke their own record by adding more than 3,000 temples to their travel list.

“We never had to pay for our food and lodging whenever we went to visit the temples. We wanted to stay at the temples but the locals and villagers would invite us to their homes for dinner and give us a comfortable shelter to spend the night. In all these years,whenever we have gone on our visits,we have spent our nights at the homes of the local people,” says Kunte.

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During one such visit,the couple recognised a special kind of rock used as a pathway at the Shree Nath Mhaskoba temple in the Purandar taluka of Pune district. Upon closely examining the rocks,Kunte was proved right. The rocks were a rare variety of musical rocks that inspired the various ragas. “When I told the president of the temple committee about the significance of those rocks,he was thrilled. I convinced him to save some samples and also let me carry some samples along. He was happy to oblige and gave me a few rocks in appreciation of the information I had shared with him. If you listen to the rocks carefully,you can hear sounds such as sa,re,ga,ma,” he says.

During another adventure,Kunte found floating rocks commonly used to build the shikhars of temples in Maharashtra. He believes that the mechanism which makes these rocks float are explained in ancient Sanskrit pothis,which served as text books for ancient engineering scholars.

“These floating rocks weren’t new for people in the ancient times. There is a way in which one must tamper with the rock to make it float on water,and the way in which it must be done is explained in the pothis,” says Kunte,who displays the rocks that he has collected and the information that he has compiled during his travels.

First published on: 18-04-2013 at 02:19:04 am
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