Chavdar Lake Mahad is a lake located in Mahad town, Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. It is well known in the world for the satyagraha done by Mahamanav (great person) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on 20th March, 1927. The lake is a symbol of the struggle for social equality and dignity of the Dalit people and attracts lakhs of visitors every year. In this article, we will explore the location, timing and entry fees, how to reach, things to do/must see, significance and history of Chavdar Lake Mahad.
Chavdar Lake Location, Timing and Entry Fees
Chavdar Lake Mahad is located in the heart of Mahad town, which is situated on the banks of river Savitri. The lake measures 100 meters in length, 100 meters in breadth and has a depth of 5.5 meters. Its approximate area is about 2.5 acres.
The lake is open for visitors from 9 am to 5 pm every day. There is no entry fee for visiting the lake. However, there may be a fee for parking, camera and video recording.
How to Reach Chavdar Lake
Chavdar Lake Mahad can be reached by road, rail or air. The nearest airport is Mumbai International Airport, which is about 166 km from the lake. From there, one can take a taxi or a bus to Mahad town. Alternatively, one can also take a flight to Pune International Airport, which is about 140 km from the lake, and then follow the same route.
The nearest railway station is Mangaon Railway Station, which is about 25.5 km from the lake. From there, one can take a bus or a taxi to Mahad town.
The lake can also be reached by road from Mumbai or Pune via NH-66 or NH-48. The road condition is good but may be crowded during peak hours or weekends. There are many signboards and directions along the way to guide the travellers.
Things to Do / Must See Chavdar Lake
Chavdar Lake Mahad has many attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Some of the things to do/must see at Chavdar Lake Mahad are:
- Samadhi of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: This is the final resting place of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who died at Delhi on 6th December, 1956. The samadhi is a simple stone structure with a dome and a spire. It is surrounded by a garden and has a statue of Dr. Ambedkar in front of it. The samadhi also has an eternal flame that burns in his memory.
- Statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: This is a statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar that stands near the entrance gate of Chavdar Lake Mahad. The statue depicts Dr. Ambedkar in his lawyer’s attire and holding a book in his hand. The statue was installed by the Maharashtra government in 1992 to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
- Bell Tower: This is a tower that has a bell that was used by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to announce his arrival at Chavdar Lake Mahad on 20th March, 1927. The bell rang at 10 am and Dr. Ambedkar along with his followers drank the water from the lake, thereby allowing everyone to drink water from it.
- Museum: This is a museum that showcases the history and culture of the Dalits and displays various artefacts, weapons, coins, paintings, sculptures and documents related to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. The museum also has a replica of the Manusmriti that was burnt by Dr. Ambedkar with his followers on 25th December, 1927 near Chavdar Lake Mahad as a symbol of rejecting the social inequality.
- Garden: This is a garden that surrounds the Chavdar Lake Mahad and provides a serene and beautiful environment for visitors. The garden has various plants, flowers, trees and benches for relaxing and enjoying nature.
History of Chavdar Lake
Chavdar Lake Mahad has a rich and remarkable history that dates back to the 17th century. The lake was originally known as Agam Tirtha or Indra Sarovar and was considered sacred by the Hindus. The lake was also a source of water for the nearby Raigad fort, which was the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire.
However, the lake was also a site of discrimination and oppression against the Dalits or the untouchables, who were denied access to the lake by the upper caste Hindus. The Dalits were considered impure and polluted by the Hindu caste system and were subjected to various forms of social and economic injustice.
The situation changed on 20th March, 1927, when Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a Dalit leader and social reformer, led a historic satyagraha or non-violent protest at Chavdar Lake Mahad. Dr. Ambedkar was accompanied by about 3,000 Dalit followers who came from different parts of Maharashtra. They marched to the lake and drank its water, thereby asserting their right to use a public resource. They also raised slogans of “Jai Bhim” (Victory to Bhim) and “Manusmriti Chhi Ghe” (Burn Manusmriti).
The satyagraha was a powerful blow against Hindu casteism and a milestone in the Dalit movement. It challenged the age-old traditions and customs that denied human dignity and equality to the Dalits. It also inspired many Dalits to join Dr. Ambedkar’s struggle for social justice and emancipation.
However, the satyagraha also provoked a violent backlash from the upper caste Hindus, who were enraged by the act of defiance by the Dalits. They attacked and assaulted the Dalit participants and damaged their property. They also poisoned the lake with cow dung and carcasses to prevent further use by the Dalits.
Dr. Ambedkar decided to return to Chavdar Lake Mahad on 25th December, 1927, to continue his protest and to burn Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu law book that codified caste discrimination and oppression. Manusmriti was seen as a symbol of Brahminical tyranny and injustice by Dr. Ambedkar and his followers. However, before he could reach Mahad, he was stopped by a court injunction that prohibited him from entering the town. He then decided to burn Manusmriti at another place near Mahad.
The Chavdar Lake Mahad satyagraha was one of the first and most significant acts of resistance against casteism in India. It marked a new phase in Dr. Ambedkar’s political career and his vision of annihilation of caste. It also influenced many other social movements and leaders in India and abroad.
Significance of Chavdar Lake
Chavdar Lake Mahad is not just a historical monument but also a cultural and spiritual heritage of Maharashtra. The lake is a symbol of the courage and sacrifice of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and his followers who fought for their rights and dignity. The lake is also a symbol of the struggle for social equality and democracy in India.
The lake is visited by lakhs of people every year, especially on 20th March, which is celebrated as Chavdar Lake Mahad Satyagraha Day or Kranti Din (Revolution Day). On this day, various cultural programs, processions, rituals and prayers are held at Chavdar Lake Mahad to commemorate Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy and to pay homage to his statue.
The lake is also visited by many tourists who are interested in learning about the history and culture of Maharashtra and India. The lake offers a serene and beautiful environment for visitors who can enjoy nature and relax.
Chavdar Lake Mahad is a place of pride and inspiration for many people who believe in human rights and social justice. It is a place where one can learn about Dr. Ambedkar’s life and teachings and his contribution to India’s freedom and development.