It is hard to believe that a treasure of beautiful sculptures can be found at a distance of just about 50 kms from Pune. We decided to explore this place – for me, once again.
We started from Pune at about 8 am. We took the Pune-Solapur Highway (NH-9) via Swargate. After an awesome breakfast of Misal-Paav at Kaanchan (a Hotel just before the Bhuleshwar exit), we reached the temple. The temple is located about 10 kms off the Highway on a small hillock. This hillock is actually the Fort by the name Daulatmangal (formerly known as Mangalgad). Remnants of fort walls & bastions can be seen. The road up the fort is beautiful with excellent twists & turns. We went in hot summers; however, driving here in rains would be an experience to cherish.
The temple can be easily seen from a distance, with a telecommunication tower just behind it destroying the beauty of the place.
Reaching near the temple, a striking difference is seen as compared to other temples. Half the structure is made from Black Stone in a distinct Hemadpanthi Style while top portion, Shikhara, is of yellowish white coloured stone (seemed to be Standstone). More noticing is that the Shikhara is dome-shaped constructed in Islamic Style.
It is said that the temple was attacked by the then Mughal Rulers & destroyed. The Shikhara was completely destroyed. This was later reconstructed by the then Maratha Rulers. The workers were mostly Muslims and hence the Islamic Style is seen. The extent of this destruction can be felt once you are inside. The entrance is hidden. It has steps on both sides to reach the top; the passage is narrow & dark. It is said to be constructed after the invasion to prevent any more.
A large Nandi meets your eye as you climb these steps. Sanctum Sanctorum with Shiva Linga inside is seen ahead of the Nandi. The Sanctorum is at the centre surrounded by the open-to-sky pathway around 3 sides; further surrounded by the pillared corridor. The entire area of the temple is a treat to watch. Intricately carved sculptures of Gods, Goddesses, Apsaras, Yakshas, Nymphs & Celestial Beings are present. These are carved around the Sactorum outer walls from bottom to top. The “differently colored & styled” Shikhara can be seen from here. There are sculptures over the top side of the corridor as well as on pillars.
|Sandstone construction over Black Stone|
|Pillared Corridor surrounding the Sanctum Sanctorum|
|This Beauty is posing here since eternity|
But the sad part is each statue bears the mark of hammers of its invaders; each sculpture is destroyed. The sculptures even in their destroyed form look beautiful. So one can imagine how it would have been looking centuries ago.
|Sculptures adoring the walls of Sanctum Sanctorum|
There are murals depicting stories from our epics like Ramayana & Mahabharata. I could identify the scene of Bharat-Bhet from Ramayana. One area on the top displays Lord Ganesh in Feminine form (Vinayaki Pratima). It can be easily identified because of its Trunk & a Mouse as carrier.
|Mural depicting Bharat-Bhet from Ramayana|
|Vinayaki - Ganesha in Feminine form|
While returning we decided to visit Theur. More info about this Ashtavinaya can be sought here, our previous trip.