Travelogue: Neelkantheshwar Temple
One visit to this place and you wonder, why such a beautiful temple (one of the best temple’s I have seen) is not on the regular tourist map of Pune. In fact it is almost as if this place doesn’t exists, for not many people are aware of it.
The temple is named after Lord Shiva and depicts his blue throat due to the venom that he had swallowed during sagar manthan. It is a huge temple, with lots of open space, space to sit and enjoy the exquisite sculptures that tell different Hindu mythological tales. I have never seen so many sculptures in one place. See some of the pictures to get a sense of what you are missing, if you haven’t been to this place as yet. These pictures still don’t tell the complete story.
Now that you have seen some of the pictures and want to make a trip to this place, note the following. The temple is on a small hill, maybe around 700-800 ft high. Physical walking distance maybe around 1.5 km, but given the steep climb that one needs to negotiate, do plan this for early morning or when it isn’t too hot. When we visited this place few days back, and started our climb almost around 12 noon, we soon realized what a big mistake we had done.
If you are going there from Pune, the best option will be to take the Warje-Malwadi road towards NDA, cross Uttam Nagar and go past the Khadakwasla dam (the dam being on your left side) and continue towards Peacock bay. Continue on this road, which is well constructed, but mostly single lane. You will cross Kudje, Khadakwadi, Mandvi villages, Splendor Country club and see lots of signs for Waterfront plots. Near Katawadi, you will need to take a left and cross a narrow bridge. There is a big overhead board here pointing to take this left to go towards Neelkantheshwar. There is no way you can miss this board, unless of course the board itself isn’t there anymore. After the bridge, you will need to take left again in the Dawje village. There is board here that will point towards right for the temple and you can drive up from within the village and reach a small Bhairav temple. There is an option of parking your vehicle here and go up-hill towards the Neelkantheshwar temple, but note that this is a much longer walk.
Instead, continue straight for Jambhali village, which is about 3 km from here. At the village you will hit a junction, where again appropriate board will guide you towards the “right” road that goes all the way to the base of the hill on which the temple is. This is not a very well-constructed road, but is definitely drivable. Park your vehicle at the base of the hill (Rs 15 parking charges for a four wheeler). From here starts the steep walk up the hill. The climb is really steep in few places and unless you are in good shape, this can be very difficult. There are steps also, but only for initial short distance. The loose gravel on the road, only makes it more difficult to walk. However the path is pretty wide and it does seems that someday in future, there will be motorable road right up to the temple as well. The path flattens a bit towards the end, but this relief is short lived as the entire temple is again a climb (you can either take the stone stairs or continue to walk on the mud path).
From the temple entrance itself you are enchanted with the sculptures and there are just too many of them (see the pictures above). You can easily spend couple of hours here looking all of these and also relaxing. The walk down while is less tiring, can still be difficult as getting a sure foothold in some places is a challenge. So walk carefully, lest you skid and fall.
I can only say that the place is a must visit, but chose a better time of the day and weather, be prepared for a good steep climb and carry basic refreshments with you.
Till next time… bye.