Prakashe, a village in Shahada taluka with 6,053 inhabitants in 1961, lies on the bank of the Tapi river at its meeting with two tributaries, 112.66 km. (70 miles) north-west of Dhulia and about 19.31 km. (12 miles) north of Nandurbar. Along the river bank there are some fine houses chiefly inhabited by wealthy agriculturists, and scattered here and there are quite a few temples most of which are deeply revered. Lying as it does in the Tapi valley and drained by two of its tributaries, the important being the Gomai, the soil is fertile and yields rich crops of cotton, jowar, groundnut, and wheat. Chillis are also grown. Most of this agricultural produce is marketed to Nandurbar and Shahada market yards. At present the inhabitants depend upon unpurified river water, but a water-works to be installed on the Gomai at an estimated cost of Rs. 2,38,000 would soon make pure tap water available. Prakashe, has grampanchayat, a police out-post, a branch (post-office, a high school, a Marathi and an Urdu primary schools, an Ayurvedic dispensary and a primary health centre. Recently a montessori has been set up by the block-development office. Weekly bazar is held on Wednesday in an open square just near the Mansapuri Devi temple.
Ever since the early years of the 17th Century, Prakashe has objects, been known as a centre of pilgrimage. But recently into shot into limelight when an ancient mound was discovered here in 1954. Preliminary examination of the 21.336 metres (70 ft.) high mound by the Archaeological Survey of India revealed that further excavations may disclose startling details of the Chalcolithic period of the history of Maharashtra. Hence regular excavations were undertaken in early 1955. The excavations laid bare the Chalcolithic remains in the lowest levels and also rendered a general idea of the sequence of culture-the Chalcolithic culture-assignable to the early 1st millenium times. Between the top of the occupational deposit of the earliest culture−the Chalcolithic culture-assignable to the early 1st millenium B.C.−designated as Period I and the beginning of the occupational debris of the succeeding culture. Period II, was observed a time gap indicated by a thin deposit of fine gravel. This latter culture assignable to 5th to 1st century B.C. was observed to be a lull fledged iron using culture characterised by the well defined black and red ware in association with iron objects. This ware popularly known as Northern Black Polished ware roughly represents the period of Ashok, the Mauryan emperor, and belongs to an epoch of which nothing is otherwise known in the annals of the history
of Khandesh. It also indicates some intercourse with sites of comparative date in the Ganga-Yamuna doab and also provides a firm datum for fixing the chronology So much for the historical finds enlightening us on the culture of the people of those times.
Turning to the temples of the village scattered along the river bank we find that almost all of them are well built and considered sacred. Of these the first one in order of importance is the temple sacred to Kedareshvar Mahadev situated at a certain bend of the Tapi and
overlooking it. A solid ghat or a flight of stone steps of 45.72 metres X 16.77 metres (150 ft. X 55 ft.) dimensions leads down to the river. bed. In the front this temple has a pavement.17.99 metres (59 rt.) long and 5.19 metres (17 ft.) broad wherein is a 13.106 metres (43 ft.) high lamp-pillar, hollow inside, with steps leading upto the top. The temple
has a double gablwra, the first one (1.114 m2 = 12 sq. ft.) holding a ling of Kedareshvar Mahadev and the second one (of slightly bigger dimensions) that of Kashi Vishveshvar. Whereas an image of Topi Mata is installed in a niche sunk in the: front wall of the first of these gabharas, a stone slab bearing almost an illegible Sanskrit inscription has been fixed in the wall of the second. Floors of both these gabharas are paved with highly polished marble tiles and their door frames bear such delicate carvings that they are unsurpassed by any of those found on other temples in Prakashe. Rounded Shikhars crown the tops of both. The mandap hall, common to both the gabharas, is 12.20 metres X, 6-10 metres (40 ft. X 20 ft.) containing two nandi images each of which faces the ting symbols inside. It has seven four-pillared rows,, one pillar of each row being embedded in the gab ham walls. These rows form six arches in the front and three on either sides. The mandap, on the left of the visitor has a gallery opening, on the rivet side unfolding a beautiful view of the river smoothly flowing below. Exactly below this gallery and almost on a level with the river bed is the bhandarghar or the store-house. In the vicinity of the temple there are some samadhis of saintly persons and a few ling symbols and images of very many deities. In the Kedareshvar Mahatmya this river and the temple are referred to as a centre of pilgrimage and it is commonly believed that, if, after making a pilgrimage of all the tirthkshetras of India this centre is not Visited the pilgrimage remains incomplete. Hence many a pilgrim visit this tirthakshetra to complete the pilgrimage. At this temple a fair attended by over 6,000 persons is held on Chaitra Shuddha Paurnima,
To the north of this temple, hardly half a furlong away, lie! another temple known as Vishva Danteshvar having on the gates a fine carving of two elephants, and in recess on south an illegibly inscription containing the date 1742 (1664 Shalivahan).
Gautameshvar Mahadev Temple.
To the east of the village, on the banks of the Gomai river which downstream unites with the Tapi, is the antique shrine of Gautameshvar Mahadev, said to have been built by one of the Holkars probably Rani Ahilyabai Holkar who is known to have built many
temple all over Maharashtra. The whole edifice is 12.80 metres X 4.88 metres (42 ft. X 16 ft.) and stands on an elevated dais with flights of steps on three sides of it giving access to the twelve pillared mandap, two of which are embedded in the gabhara walls. These pillars in all form eleven arches on the three open sides of the mandap. On the upper most step of the frontal flight of stairs one comes across two large ling symbols, installed on cement platforms flanking a crudely shaped image of nandi which faces the ling inside the vestibule.
door frame of the vestibule containing the ling of Gautameshvar Mahadev bears some insignificant carvings. On its lintel a few images are also sculptured. A shikhar adorns the top of the gubhara. Though virtually uncared for in recent years, the masonry structure of the temple is still in a solid condition. Outside an images of
Hanuman could be seen installed on a pedestal and mother image of deity kept leaning against the trunk of a pipaltree. Every twelve years on the entrance of the, planet jupiter, Guru, in the constellation of the Leo, Simhasta, a fair is held in honour
of this Mahadev. The last fair held was in 1967.
Sangameshvar Mahadev Temple.
Overlooking the confluence of the Tapi and the Gomai stands another famous temple known as Sangameshvar Mahadev, so Musalman in style that it almost looks as if it were a converted mosque. Three Sanskrit inscriptions two in the shrine fixed on either side of entrance to the vestibule and one inside the vestibule, give the date of its construction as 1745 (1667 Shalivahan). However, they do not enlighten us as to the name of the builder. The temple is enclosed by a 1.219 metres (4 ft.) high parapet of brick and mortar, with a low archshaped entrance on the river side leading into the courtyard. The 1.858 m- (20 ft. square) mandap has four rows of four pillars each, some of which are monoliths, forming three arches on three sides, the mandap having no walls either in the front or on the sides. Every pillar is ornamented with exquisite creepers carved in relief. The door frame of the vestibule is artistically ornamented and on the lintel are two fine carvings of elephants with entangled trunks. Above these two peacocks are also represented in a similar pose. Crowned with a dome like shikhar, the vestibule is 1.114 m2 (12 sq. ft.) wherein is installed the ling of Sangameshvar Mahadev. Exactly facing it in the mandap is quite a big image of nandi, the carrier of Mahadev. On the right hand side of the visitor the gabhara has an extension of two cells, but this part falling into decay.
Housed in a canopy in the vicinity of this temple is an image of Hanuman said to have been once washed ashore by the floods of the Tapi.
Mansapuri Devi temple.
To the west of the village lies the stone masonry built temple sacred to Goddess Mansapuri, with a 13.71 X 5.49 metres (45 ft. X 18 ft.) mandap, the first half of which was previously a sort of an open courtyard now partly covered with tin sheets. The second half has a terraced roof and is supported on 16 pillars, all bearing some remarkable carvings. Eight of these are embedded in the side walls and together with the open ones form three arches in the front. The vestibule, with two broad windows, is 1.114 m2 (12 sq. ft.) and contains the eighteen handed image of the goddess
Mansapuri housed under a gorgeously decorated canopy. The goddess is depicted as trampling the trunk of a Mahishasur with its severed head lying near about, clutching a demon tightly by the hair in the left hand
and a sword and a cudgel in two of the right hands. On Her right side could be seen an image of a monkey and on the left that of a female deity. A
ling symbol could also be seen in the vestibule. A fair attended by 800 persons is held on
Chaitra Shuddha Paurnima.
A stone mosque, built by one Malu Miya, lies to the south of the Mansapuri temple. It is now lying amidst ruins. Besides this the village has two more mosques of recent construction.
The Kashi Vishveshvar temple, built by one Dwarkadas, a resident of the village though of recent construction stands comparison in every respect with other temples in Prakashe. It is the most neatly and cleanly maintained temple in Prakashe looked after by a trust known after the name of the temple. The whole is 2.229 m2 (24 ft. square), the
mandap occupying half the portion and the gabhara, the other half. The mandap has a number of pillars for its support and herein is installed the nandi image in the traditional posture. The gabhara besides housing the main ling also holds a few images of various deities housed in niches. Its door frame is beautifully decorated by lovely patterns and designs and
has a tapering shikhar bearing designs of figure-filled niches.