Site Name: Parvati Hills
Site Type: Hindu temples, hill, museum
Location: Pune, Maharashtra state, India
Highlights: A scenic hill - a paradise in Pune city - loved by morning joggers, religious people as well as heritage lovers
Nearest Railway Station: Pune
Nearest Airport: Pune
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire Pune city
Restaurants: Varieties of options especially delicious Maharashtrian food across the entire city
Pune is the second largest city of Maharashtra state of India. The city which exists since the 9th century CE was the first capital of the great Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji. Pune is also considered as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The city has many attractions and most of them are religious sites. Let us explore an important place called Parvati Hills. It is called as the pride of Pune city.
A visit to Pune city is incomplete without visiting Parvati Hills. It is a scenic location situated at a height of above 2100 feet above sea level. This being the highest point of the city, it gives an aerial view of the entire city. There are hundreds of Pune citizens who climb up 103 steps (only few of them are steep) to reach the hilltop for early morning work or get glimpse of the deities who protect this city. It is a heavenly experience to be in this place in the early morning.
It is believed that there was a Parvati temple located on top of the hills in those days. Kashi Bai, the mother of the third Peshwa, Nana Saheb aka Balaji Baji Rao , was suffering from a severe ailment in her right foot. As per someone's advice, she visited Parvati temple and got rid of her suffering. She insisted her son and as a result, a bigger temple in the current form (Devadeveshwar (Shiva) temple) was built in 1749 CE.
Although there is no evidence, it is widely believed that Peshwa brought the 'Khadawa' (the wooden footwear) of the late Maratha King Shahu (the grandson of Chhatrapati Shivaji) and also an icon of Shiva Linga along with him from Satara to Pune. He placed them under the Shiva Linga in Devadeveshwar Temple.
The temple of Lord Shiva called as Devadeveshwar is the main and the biggest temple on Parvati hills. It was built in 1749 CE.
The east facing temple has a majestic entrance door made of granite stone with two big attractive Dwarapalas made of blackstone.
The main shrine houses Devadeveshwar in the form of oval shaped Shiva Linga. The top portion of the Linga is in red color. It is believed that the stone was brought from the river Gandaki in Nepal. Such rare and sacred stones are found only there.
The main shrine also houses the copper and brass idols of Lord Shiva with Parvati and Ganesh on his laps. Shiva is in the form of sitting posture - Padmasana. He is holding trident, bow, arrow and axe in his four arms. Originally, the Peshwas made the Shiva idol with silver and Ganesh and Parvati idols with gold. Unfortunately, they were hardly in the temple due to fear of invasion and constant fight in Pune. At one point, the British took possession of these idols and later they were returned. However, in 1932 CE, all the three idols were stolen. Till now, no one knows about the fate of those original idols.
The temple has one wide prakara where the following four sub-shrines are found:
- Ganesha made of white marble brought from Jaipur
- Surya - white marble stone - seated on ratha (chariot) pulled by seven horses
- Maha Vishnu
- Durga - a white marble idol; two other black marble idols of Durga are also found here
The majestic and attractive vimana of the main shrine depicts the architectural style of medieval Maratha period.
Towards the right side of Devadeveshwara temple, Vitthal temple is located. Although the small temple with a hall at the front side reflects the Maratha architecture, it is not as old as the main temple. It was built in 1931 CE. It houses the beautiful idols of Vitthal (Krishna) and his consort Rukmini.
A part of the palace built by Shrimant Peshwa in 1795 CE has been converted into Peshwa Museum. The two storey museum houses a lot of articles, weapons, coins and varieties of materials used by Peshwas. The highlight of the museum is the mural paintings of Maratha kings and Peshwas.
Near the museum, the samadhi (tomb) of Nanasaheb Peshwa is located. After losing his son and elder brother in Panipat war, Peshwa died here out of intense grief. The hall near the samadi has some interesting 18th century Maratha mural paintings which depict war scenes and other events.
Kartikeya aka Subramanya is an important deity in South India. However, in Pune it is very rare to find a temple dedicated to him. This is one such rare temple of Kartikeya. The temple just has one shrine dedicated to Kartikeya, a small black marble idol found with six heads. He is seated on the peacock. Near this idol, there is a small idols of Kartikeya with six heads made of white marble.
In Maharashtra, Kartikeya is depicted as a bachelor God. It is believed that women should not visit his temple as it might cause widowhood for them. On contrary, Kartikeya is a popular God among the women of South India.
The temple's complex is big and the open space prakara has a lot of trees and plants. The modern day paintings depicting various forms of Subramanya are found all over the walls of the temple.
The temple with the beautiful vimana depicting the Maratha architectural style was built by Shrimant Raghobadada, the elder brother of Nanasaheb Peshwa.
Unfortunately, the temple is not lucky enough. The idol was broken due to various reasons such as lightening, accident and invasion and everytime a new idol was replaced.
Around 300 m from Kartikeya temple, the temple of Maha Vishnu is located. It is a peaceful and serene location. This small temple has the beautiful vimana depicting the Maratha architectural style. It was built at the same time when the Devadeveshwar temple was built. Peshwa Shrimant Madhava Rao built this temple.
The deity is extremely attractive. It is one of the most beautiful idols in the entire Maharashtra state. The idol is made of black stone which is believed to have been brought from Gandaki river in Nepal. It is believed that equally beautiful idol of the Goddess Lakshmi was also made. However, as it could not reach the destination on time, the Peshwas decided to install only Vishnu idol in this temple.
Vishnu is found with four arms holding conch, discus, lotus and mace. He is in the standing posture. The small figures of Narada and Tumburu, the divine musicians, are found near his feet.
Garuda's idol which is made of white marble is found in a small shrine facing towards the main deity.
Let me reiterate - if you do not visit this place, you cannot claim to have visited Pune.