Vasai-Virar is a city in
Maharashtrastate in western India. It is located in Thane District, 50 km north of Mumbai. The city is located on the north bank of Vasai Creek, part of the estuaryof the Ulhas River. Vasai-Virar is an agglomeration of several formerly separate towns, including Vasai, Virar, and the ancient city of Sopara. Vasai-Virar has four stations Naigaon, Vasai Road, Nala Sopara, and Viraron the Mumbai suburban railway's Western Railway railway line.
The town of Sopara was center of the Indian Ocean trade going in Roman times, but its harbour has since silted up. Trade shifted to Vasai, which traded in horses, fish, salt, timber, and quarried basalt and granite, and was a shipbuilding center. Vasai came under the control of the Sultans of
Gujaratin the 15th century. The Portuguese attacked the city in 1528, and captured it in 1532. The city, known to the Portuguese as Baçaim, became the center of Portuguese India's Northern Province, which included a string of Portuguese settlements extending almost 100 km along the coast and in some places 30-50 km inland. Other settlements in the Northern Province included Daman, Mahim, Thane, Kalyan, Salsette, Bombaim ( Bombay), and Chaul. In the second half of 16th century the Portuguese enclosed the town in a new fortress wall with 10 bastions. The city reached the height of its prosperity at the end of the 17th century. During the 18th century, the city was eclipsed by nearby Bombay, which had been ceded to the British in 1661, and shortly thereafter became the headquarters of the British East India Companyin India. The Marathas captured Kalyanin 1720, and in 1737 they captured Thane and Salsette Island from the Portuguese. The other Portuguese settlements in the northern province were captured in 1738-39, and in February 1739, the Maratha General Chimnaji Appalaid siege to Baçaim, which capitulated on 16 May 1739.
The British captured Salsette and Baçaim, which they called Bassein, from the Marathas in 1774, at the start of the
First Anglo-Maratha War. The Treaty of Bassein was concluded between the Marathas and the British East India Company on December 31, 1802, which left the British in possession of Bassein.
The Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) (present Central Railway) and the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) (present Western Railway) were built through Vasai-Virar in 1860, and regular rail service started in 1869. The first electric locomotives first started operating on the line in 1927. Four stations on the
Mumbai Suburban Railwayserve the town Naigaon, Vasai Road, Nala Soparaand Virar. The region has seen a building boom since the 1980s, including the expansion of branch plants and offices from Mumbai. The land development boom has resulted in the loss of much of the region's wetlands and forest cover. Communicable diseases are widespread here due to the open sewers and stagnated water everywhere.
The story of Virar and Jeevdani
The name Viraar comes from Eka-viraa. Just as Tunga Parvatbecomes “Tunga-ar”, similarly “Vira” becomes “Vira-ar”.There is ahuge temple of Eka-vira Devi on the banks of Vaitarna River at thefoot hills Tunga Parvat, (this is now totally broken by thecontinuous raids of Mohamedeans and Portuguese in last 400 years),where people used to conclude their “Shurpaaraka Yatra”, asdescribed in the Puranas and local legends. There is a huge tankhere dedicated to Eka veera Devi called “Viraar Tirtha”, i.e. “Eka- Viraa Tirtha”.Even today, on the west banks of Viraar Tirtha,one finds a carved stone about three feet long and nine inchesbroad. Below that is a group of female figures of the Yoginis ofEkaveera Devi.Nearby one can find a stone with a roughly cut cowand calf (Savatsa Dhenu), a symbol of Govardhana Math whichsymbolizes eternity or Moksha.Moving ahead near the foot of a knollof rock are two cow’s feet (Go-Paad) roughly cut in rock.The legendary story of Jeevdaani Devi is as follows:During their forest journey, Pandavas came to Shurparaka. Theyvisited the holy temple of Vimaleshwar consecrated by LordParashuram and on their journey to Prabhas halted on the banks ofVaitarni river. There they worshipped the Bhagavati Ekaveera on thebanks of Viraar Tirtha and seeing the serenity and lofty naturedecided to carve caves in the nearby mountains. They did so on thehills nearby and installed and worshipped the Yoga Linga ofEkaveera devi in one of the caves. They called her BhagavatiJeevadhani (That is Goddess, who is the real wealth of life). Doingso Pandavas also made a set of small caves now known as “PandavDongri” about a mile from Shrigaon for the hermits.Many yogis usedto stay in Pandav Dongri and have darshan of Jeevdhani Devi.After the onset of Kali Yuga, and after the advent of the Buddhistfaith, the number of Vaidik Yogis lessened and slowly people forgetthe hillock and the devi. During times of Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s advent, a Mahar or Mirashi used to stay in Viraarwho used to graze the village cattle. He came to Nirmal Mandir forthe darshan of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Padmanabha Swami andrequested His Holiness to bless him so that he could have darshanof his beloved Kuladevata. Jagadguru was pleased with the devotionof Mahar and advised him to serve Go-Mata on the foothills ofJivadhani, and at appropriate time he would have darshan of hisGoddess and attain Go-Loka. He literally for the rest of lifefollowed the advice of Jagadguru Shankaracharya and herded thevillage cattle. While grazing the village cattle, he used to see acow grazing along with, whose owner never paid him for herding her.By his virtue, he determined to find the owner of the cow. Hefollowed the cow on the top of Jeevdhan Hill. A beautiful womanwith divine features appeared. The Mahar remembered the words ofJagadguru Shankaracharya and understood that she is none other thanhis Kuladevi Jeevdhani, he was overjoyed and asked “Oh Mother ! Ihave grazed your cow, will you not pay me for her herding ?”. TheDevi just smiled in delight and was on the point of putting somemoney in the Mahar’s hand, when he said “Do not touch me, I amMahar. Give me something which cannot be spoilt by touch, words,smell, figure, and ether.” Knowing this Devi asked “Lo my child ,whence from you learned this unique knowledge of Varnashram Dharmaand Moksha Dharma?”. To this Mahar replied, “From none other thanby the Grace of Jagadguru Shankaracharya”. Bhagavati was pleasedby this and said “By your virtue (Punya), see this cow which isnone other than Kaamadhenu has taken your forefathers to higherabodes by her tail , crossing the Vaitarini”. Thus saying the Maharsaw the cow lept from the hill top putting her two feet prints onhill foor and other two across Vaitarini River in heavens. Now Devitold, “I confer upon you the thing which you demanded that isMoksha.” Saying so the Mahar attained Moksha (The real Jeeva Dhana,the real wealth of Life)and the Devi was about to disappear in thecave, when a barren woman saw all this divine incidentscreamed “Devi Devi , Amba Amba, will you leave this barrendaughter of yours without our jeevan dhan a child in my laps?”.Devi was pleased by her prayers and said “ Great indeed are you whosaw all three of us. I henceforth bless you with a child.” The ladywas not satisfied by this, she said “Oh Mother of the three worlds,do not just bless me , but let all barren daughters of you who prayyou be conferred with the child”. Devi was pleased at this andsaid “See henceforth, due to the advent of Kali Yuga , in order tomaintain purity of rituals, I will stay into a hole in the niche ofthe cave. The barren women who offer me the beetlenuts in thishole, as is offered in my original place in Mahurgad, will berewarded with a progeny”. Thus saying the Devi disappeared. Thislady spread out the incident and thus once again the Jeevdhan hillstarted to be visited by the pilgrims.THE NOW INSTALLED MURTY IS VERY RECENT ONE, BUT THE ORIGINAL DIVINEPLACE OF DEVI IS THE HOLE IN THE NICHE OF THE CAVE, WHICH IS THEMAIN PLACE OF WORSHIP.
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