Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cinematographic Wai - Menavali_November 6, 2013

We had a "real" long Diwali Holidays to our Company - 9 days - long enough to make all others, JEALOUS  ;-)
We colleagues decided to plan a one day trip after Diwali. Wai-Menavali-Dhom Dam was decided immediately.

We started off from Padmavati in Pune in a Santro at 6.30 am. We took the NH-4 (Pune-Bangalore Highway) - the new road bypassing Katraj Ghat.

By 8.30 am we were having breakfast at the Wai exit on NH-4. Wai from here is about 13 kms. Road is single lane, graced by large banyan trees on both sides. However, traffic is seen for obvious reasons - Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani, the most sought after Hill Stations for people Maharashtrians & Gujaratis of this side. Just before, there is a diversion towards Right for Wai Town from the main Mahabaleshwar Road.
Wai (वाई) is famous for its Maha-Ganapati Temple on the banks of River Krishna (कृष्णा नदी). Also called as Dholya Ganapati (ढोल्या गणपती) considering the size of the idol. It is HUGE. Carved out of single black stone along with a large back rest. It is beautifully painted. Photography inside is not allowed.
The temple was built in the year 1762.
Maha-Ganapati Temple of Wai - Dholya Ganapati
Next to the Ganesh Temple is the Shiva Temple - Kashi-Vishweshwar. It is said that the Nandi here is made out of same stone from which Shiv-Linga is made.
By the side, some idols & a Shiv-Linga is kept in a make-shift area. These idols are actually from Ganakeshwar Temple, which got submerged below Dhom Dam (ढोम धरण) backwaters when the Dam was made operational.
Kashi-Vishweshwar Temple - Wai
But the beauty of this place lies 3 kms ahead. There is this place called Menavali (मेणवली) ahead on the same road from Wai. This is the place where Nana Phadnavis (नाना फडणवीस), one of the influential statesman of Peshwas (पेशवे), built a Wada (वाडा) on the banks of River Krishna. It's been 230 years since, that this place is still present to tell us the History. It must have been witness to many diplomatic discussion that Nana had while directing the affairs of Maratha Empire in the midst of internal disputes.

Next to this Wada, is a tree with a massive trunk. Just see the photo, how tiny a human looks in front of it. A platform is constructed around it.
This tree & the parts of Wada were seen in the Hindi movie Swades - The Panchayat Scene.
Menavali - Nana Phadnavis Wada - Outsides
The Wada by itself is in a fairly good condition. Some areas are delapidated though. Descendants of Nana Phadnavis own this property, its items & the Ghat behind. There was family staying by the side; they might be the family of the watchman there.

We could go inside its compound. On the left we could see a large open square. Two storeyed structure is seen. On the right however, condition is not good.
We could not enter the rooms. They open at 11.00 am. There are some old documents, antique items like wooden bed inside. The interiors of this Wada can be seen in the Hindi Movie Mrityudand.
We had reached here at 9.45 am. Hence we decided to skip interiors this time. I would visit sometime later again.
Menavali - Nana Phadnavis Wada - Insides

Information Board - Nana Phadnavis Wada
Just behind the Wada is the most picturesque location of this entire trip. Menavali Ghat (घाट) on the banks of River Krishna. Stepping here, a film buff would start recollecting scenes from Hindi movies like - Entry Scene of Singham, Climax of Gangaajal, Bol Bachchan, etc.
Menavali Ghat (Krishna River)
There are two temples - one of Lord Vishnu & other of Meneshwar (Lord Shiva). There is a bell house in front of Meneshwar which has a large bell with carving of Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms. It is made of five-alloys & said to be of 650 kgs. It was captured by Chimaji Appa (brother of Bajirao Peshwe - I) from Portuguese in Vasai.
Meneshwar Mahadev Temple
(with Ghanta-ghar - 
Bell House in front)
Meneshwar Mahadev - Shiv Linga
The Shiv-Linga is located about 5-6 steps below. There is complete dark out there. I was not able to see anything at all. Somewhere in mind was a fear; don't know what is there inside. It was that dark. Carrying a torch inside is requested.
The photo above is taken blindly with just a camera flash. I tried 3 photos to get it right at the centre.
Climax of movie Gangaajal shot here
Village kids posing near two Nandis left
there out of some film shooting
It was about 10.45 am when we left for Dhom Dam. Another 6-7 kms from Menavali starts the Dhom Dam wall. Need to pass ahead of Dhom village. But before the dam, there is another piece of our glorious history. Dhomeshwar Mahadev & Laxmi-Narasimha Temple.
Dhomeshwar Mahadev & Laxmi-Narasimha Temple - Entrance
Once reaching the road at the base of earthen dam wall, take a left and again a left to road that descends down within the trees. Signboards for Laxmi-Narasimha are available from Dhom village.
It is a complex that houses two temples - Dhomeshwar Temple said to be from the times of Paandavas AND Laxmi-Narasimha Temple built by the Peshwas.
Master Sculpture @ Dhomeshwar Mahadev Temple
(Nandi on Tortoise back in a Lotus Pond)
There is one very different sculpture. Nandi in front of Shiva Temple is mounted on a Tortoise back. It's a huge tortoise over Lotus shaped pond. All this made out of black stone.
During one day in a year, the day Lord Narasimha appeared as per Shaastras, the pond is filled-up with water. At that time, it might appear as if the tortoise is swimming on water surface.
Dhomeshwar Mahadev
The main temple is intricately carved. It is built over a platform, need to climb 3-4 steps. Below the steps there is a small window, through which one can see a water cistern. The priest told us, it is actually a pond; the temple is built over a water body.
Climbing the steps are three arches behind which is the Garbha-griha.

There is a Well beneath, opposite the temple (left side as you enter the main entrance - pictured above). Need to climb down 7-8 steps. Water from here flows out of a Go-mukh (गोमुख), about 30-50 meters away into a pond. However the area around that Go-mukh is not worth taking a photo even. Cleanliness drive of the water body is urgently required.
Dhomeshwar Mahadev - Temple Complex
Opposite Shiva Temple on Left is a circular construction. It is the Laxmi-Narasimha Temple, built by the Peshwas. Unique here is that there are two idols of Laxmi-Narasimha back-to-back. Narasimha here is in its two forms, with Goddess Laxmi sitting on his left thigh.
Laxmi-Narasimha Temple
One form is of Ugra Roop (Angry Form), with Hiranyakashyapu (हिरण्यकश्यपु) lying on his thighs & Narasimha tearing his stomach with bare hands.
The other form is the Shanta Roop (Peaceful form).
Narasimha - Ugra Roop
Narasimha - Shanta Roop
There was another unique sculpture that I haven't seen anywhere yet. A Face Scuplture of Paandavas. Four faces are on the sides, facing outwards & fifth face is on top, facing the sky.
Looking at it, I felt as if its our answer to the USAs Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. And how old is Mount Rushmore? Only about 90 years!!! (it was built just recently in 1925).    ;-)
Face Sculpture - Paandavas (2 faces are at the back)
loved these colors
We turned back till the dam-wall road. Climbed a bit on the wall and view was breathtaking.
Panorama - Dhom Dam
(Kamalgad at the centre)
Dhom Dam backwaters were in front of us with Kamalgad at the centre. I tried capturing the entire scene by 4 photo panorama above.
Exactly behind me is Paandavgad.
Photographer in me awakens ...  ;-)
It was hardly 12 noon. And our planned places had finished. Now we were discussing another possible place. There was Limb-sheri near Satara (Baara Motaachi Vihir), Kaas-Bamnoli, Thoseghar, Panchgani. We decided to go to Panchgani (पाचगणी), have something at Mapros, visit few Points, have a lunch & return.

However, being Diwali holidays, there was mad rush. Heavy traffic jams in between. Mapros was jam-packed - inside and outside also. We dropped the idea & planned to go ahead to Mahabaleshwar. There was the same scene. Th road to Kates Point & Echo Point (which is really small) was packed due to traffic. We also dropped the idea of seeing any Points.

We had a lunch at a hotel near Mahabaleshwar market. Had a small stroll in the market post-lunch. By the time we decided to leave, the rush had started to increase. So we decided to go ahead via Poladpur in Konkan on NH-17 instead of turning back all through traffic jams. On the way is Fort Pratapgad. Hence it got added in our itinerary.

Pratapgad is that part of our history, for which each one of us are & should be proud of. It is a witness to the battle that was fought at its foot in the year 1659 - Battle of Pratapgad.
Adilshah of Bijapur had sent Afzal Khan to lead an assault against Shivaji Maharaj in order to curb the growing Maratha threat. Shivaji at that time was at Pratapgad. Afzal Khan therefore moved his forces towards here.
During peace-discussions between Shivaji & Afzal Khan, Khan made a life attempt on Shivaji. Shivaji was prepared for this & responded; killing Khan by a single stroke of Wagh-Nakhi. A battle erupted soon after ending with a decisive victory of Marathas over Adilshahi forces.
Afzal Khan was burried as per Islamic customs & a tomb built at the foothills. This was Shivaji's philosophy - "Once the enemy is dead, enmity is dead too".
This tomb was open to see earlier, but now due to a controversy, it is closed for tourists since past 7-8 years.

We ascended the Ambenali Ghat (अंबेनळी घाट) which connects Mahabaleshwar with Poladpur on NH-17. In between is a way on left towards Pratapgad. Fort is accessible by road. Spacious parking is available. However, people visiting are in so large numbers (due to Mahabaleshwar nearby), that the parking falls short now. Mostly on holidays, cars have to be parked on the sides of narrow road, which creates more traffic problems.
किल्ले प्रतापगड
Fort from here is very easy to climb. Well-cut steps are there till the top. After the Main Entrance, comes the highlight of Pratapgad - Mahadwar Maachi or Afzal Maachi. Due to shortage of time, we could not see the entire fort. We went a little ahead to capture a snap of this Maachi & we turned back.
Above this Maachi is the Citadel which houses a Bhavani Mata Temple, Life-size statue of Shivaji. There are many sites to see on the fort. All these on my next visit. Guides are also available who can take you around the fort with some information.
Mahadwar Maachi (Afzal Maachi) -
Afzal Khan's Tomb can be seen on the right
We started our return journey from Pratapgad at around 5.15 pm. We went to Poladpur on NH-17 and joined the Varandha Ghat from Mahaad. Reached the NH-4 again at Kapurhol. We avoided traffic at Mahabaleshwar but landed in pathetic road on this Varandha route.

We reached back in Pune at 9.30 pm.

Odo Readings:
0 kms    Padmavati, Pune
20         Khed Shivapur Toll
34         Kapurhole
71         Wai / Surur Phata (Exit)
84         Wai
88         Menavali
95         Dhom Dam
113       Panchgani
130       Mahabaleshwar
154       Pratapgad
180       Poladpur
193       Mahad
290       Khed Shivapur Toll
310       Padmavati, Pune



  1. Beautiful writeup Kaustubh, very well written.
    Enjoyed reading it.
    would be a good reference if i have to do this trip.
    Thank you.