PLACES OF INTEREST

MAHALAXMI OR ST. VALENTINE'S PEAK.

Mahalakshmi, known to Europeans as St. Valentine's Peak, a conical funnel-shaped hill, 1540 feet high, stands abreast of Dahanu in Vivalvedhe village, about twelve miles from the coast and sixteen or seventeen north-east of Tarapur. A yearly fair, lasting for fifteen days and attended by large numbers of Hindus, Musalmans, and Parsis from Bombay, Gujarat and Nasik, is held here on the full moon of Chaitra (March-April). Copper and brass vessels, cloth, blankets, toys, sweetmeats, onions, garlic, and chillies worth altogether from 1200 to 1500 (Rs. 12,000-Rs. 15,000) are sold. The temple, a good stone and mortar building, stands at the foot of the hill which is extremely difficult to climb. So steep is it that no one can climb it but the ministrant, or pujari, the Varli headman of the village to whom the goddess gives nerve and skill. On the full moon night the ministrant climbs to the top and plants a flag, the people watching below and raising a shout when they catch sight of the flag. To any one but a member of the patel's family the ascent is said to be fatal. [Trans. Bom. Geog. Soc. VII. 97.] In 1872 Marya Patil, who for years had been in the habit of planting the flag, started to climb the hill, but was never again heard of. For three years the flag remained unplanted. Then the goddess is said to have appeared by night to Krishna the nephew of Marya, and told him to plant her flag on the; peak. He obeyed her, but has since been as one possessed.