PLACES

DHOKI

Situated in 1905' north latitude and 7425' east longitude Dhoki is a small village in Parner taluka twelve miles to the north of Parner, the taluka head-quarters. It occupies an area of 6.9 square miles and has a population of 557 souls as per the Census of 1971. The village has a primary school. Wells form the main source of water-supply.

The village has, [Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer, 1884, p. 715.] on the east side of one of two rugged hills rising from a stony plateau, a group of early Brahmanic caves of about A. D. 550-600 The chief cave is irregular about forty-five feet wide in front and upwards of fifty feet deep. In front are two massive pillars between pilasters, and 14 feet behind them two other pillars stand on a raised step. The pillars are square below and change above into eight and thirty-two sides with square capitals having pendant corners under ordinary brackets. The front pair of columns have more carving on the lower halves but are square up to the capitals. The shrine is rock-cut with, round it a wide circling path or pradakshina and with a door in front and in the right end. On each side of the front door is a door-keeper with an aureole behind the head, holding a flower in his right hand. He wears a high head-dress with twisted locks of hair. [These figures are similar to those on the sides of the shrine at Elephanta and the Dumar Lena at Elura. Compare Fergusson and Burgess Cave Temples, 448, 469.] Over their shoulders are heavenly choristers of vidyadharas. Under the right hand of the left door-keeper a figure stands with folded arms and wearing a trident on his head like a cap. Other figures are carved to the right and left. The shrine has a small linga and on an earthen platform in front, among many fragments of sculpture of all ages, is a modern hollow copper linga with a human face in front and a snake coiled round and seven hoods raised over it.

On the deep architrave over the inner pair of pillars in the centre is a sculpture of Lakshmi and elephants pouring water over her and other figures to the left. At the north end is a chapel with two pillars in front, and on the back wall is a large sculpture of Bhairav and some snake figures. Outside, at each end of the front, is a tall standing female figure with a lofty head-dress holding in one hand an opening bud. In a recess to the north of the shrine is a coarsely hewn bull. In the back are three small recesses, and in the south end is a raised platform with a seat at the end of which a hole has been made into a large cistern, the entrance to which is a dozen yards to the south of the cave. Between the great cave and the cistern and some way up the face of the rock, reached by a risky stair, is a small cave with a low roof and a built front as the original front has given way. On each side of this cave is a cell with an opening two or 2 feet from the floor. In the left front corner is a trap-door leading to a partly-filled apartment.

On the south wall of the cave are badly-carved figures of the Seven Mothers with Ganesh and Bhringi at their head. The mothers are seated under the foliage of five trees. Each has an aureole and her distinguishing animal symbol. [The seven Mothers are Aindri with an elephant, Brahmi with a swan, Chamunda with a dead body, Kaumari with a peacock, Maheshvari with a bull, Vaishnavi with the eagle Garud, and Varahi with a buffalo. Compare Bombay Gazetteer, XIV, 79 note.] Beyond the last Mother is Shiva.

An annual fair is held in the village in honour of Dhokeshvar on the third Monday of Shravan (July-August), which is attended by about 1,200 people.

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