The Matsyodari Devi Temple of Ambad
The Matsyodari devi Temple of Ambad situated in south 21 k.m. away from Jalna city. Matsyodari, so called because the temple is on the hill which resembles the shape of a fish (matsya). It is believed to be one of the oldest temples in the region.
A largely attended annual fair is held at the temple in October, in Navratra.
Ambad situated between a ridge of hills in 19o35’15” north latitude and 75o50’7″ east longitude is the headquarters of the tahsil of the same name. It lies along Jalna-Gevrai road the former place being the principal commercial centre in the Marathwada region.
Ambad is a municipal town and Tahsil & it appears that once it enjoyed great prosperity, the marks of which are still seen in the decayed stone buildings and ruined walls and gateways. A local tradition ascribes the foundation of the town to a Hindu Raja by name Amba Rishi who being weary of the cares of running the Government went and settled in a cave in a hill to the east of the town. This site is now occupied by a shrine dedicated to goddess Matsyodari, so called because the hill resembles the shape of a fish (matsya). It is believed to be one of the oldest temples in the region. A largely attended annual fair is held at the temple in October.
The town also contains a temple of Khandoba and a masonry Kund (tank), both of which were constructed by that pious and philanthropic queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, about the end of the eighteenth century. The structure to Khandoba has three temples joined together an arrangement often found in the south, but rarely in the north, and capable of giving a greater variety of effect of light and shade than is observed, in plainer forms. The shrine is surrounded by a stone-wal and has a gallery all round. The entrance is surmounted by a nagarkhana or chamber for temple-musicians. The courtyard has an iron-pillar on either side, besides a figure of a lion standing on four small elephants, with a fifth elephant in its mouth. Some finely sculptured images are seenscattered about inside.
The shrine is crowned by three large shikhars in a line, with a small one at either end. They are built of bricks and are variously ornamented. None of these shikhars are alike. The village has also a masonry kund believed to have been built by Ahilyabai Holkar. It has fallen into ruins.
Among the cults prevailing in the region the one espoused by Svami Ramanand, a devotee of Rama, claims a considerable following Svami Ramanand, originally from Gondi village near Ambad, made Ambad his abode and preached his doctrines. Achhutashram Svami was his chief disciple. The memory of Ramanand Swami is highly revered in and around Ambad.