Welcome to Pune, home of proud Punekars, amazing food, and of course, culture and heritage! Throughout the rich and colourful history, Pune has been a stalwart source for heritage sites; much of the Maratha independence was conceived in Pune.
The government of Maharashtra has paid special attention to its architectural wonders and monuments of historical significance. Pune, naturally, has greatly benefited from it, and with the ageing, glorious architectural sites all being taken care of, tourism has always flourished. One such important site is the Pataleshwar Cave Temple, a piece of architecture which comes with its own historical and geographical lesson! So, let’s get to know more about this wonderful place!
Also known as Panchaleshvara or Bamburde, the Pataleshwar Cave Temple is a rock-cut temple carved out in the 8th century (Rashtrakuta) period. Originally, it was based out of the city limits, but now with Pune’s borders being expanded, the temple stands bang in the heart of Pune on Jangli Maharaj road.
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Although the temple is visited by everyone who appreciates its architectural beauty, devotees visit the temple which is dedicated to Lord Pataleshwar, the God of the Underworld, Lord Shiva, and Lord Nandi. There are statues of other Gods and Goddesses like Mother Sita, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ram, Lord Lakshman and Lord Ganesh.
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It is said that the temple has been carved out of a single basalt rock. The sanctum is a cube shaped room which houses a Shiv Ling. A Nandi Mandap outside the temple is supported by large square pillars, adding to the peculiar beauty of the architecture. The main cave itself is rectangular in shape and there are a total of three sanctums within.
Historians believe that the wall sculptures and paintings depict the story through ages; stories especially about Lord Shiva can be observed through these carved outlines- they tell the popular myths of the origins and the power of Lord Shiva-along with a few other stories about the Gods of our universe.
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The temple in its essence was left incomplete because of a fault line found at the back of the sanctum sanctorum- it is believed that this made it unsafe for further sculpting- some also believe that it was due to a possible political upheaval, resulting in the loss of patronage. However, the Shiv Linga is still in use, regularly anointed with ghee and yogurt. The huge brass temple bell outside the entryway is still in use as well.
Being one of the oldest monuments in Pune (1300 years old), the Pune Office of Archaeological Survey of India is located in the adjacent property, while the temple is also under its maintenance. You can visit the temple anytime between 8 am to 5:30 pm. Noteworthy spiritual days like Mahashivratri, Tripuri Poornima and Diwali are celebrated with flourish by city devotees at the temple.