“Ban” – Forest and Ishwar – God i.e. God within a forest. This is the origin of the name of the Baneshwar temple. The name looked inviting and looking it up on Google Earth, i saw that the temple was in the midst of a dense green patch. Not the size of a forest, but quite an expansive green patch. So, off we went on a Sunday afternoon to Baneshwar Temple, around 45 kms away from Pune.
How to go to Baneshwar Temple from Pune(Magarpatta): Go on Solapur road (towards Big Bazaar). Keep going towards Swargate. At the Swargate junction, turn left , towards Katraj. Keep going straight. This will take you past the Pune zoo towards Katraj Ghat. Once you get down from the ghat, you will meet NH4 coming from Mumbai. Join the highway. You will come across the first toll gate. Approximately 11 kms after the toll gate, you will come to a junction. On the right side of the road (strangely), you will see a green board with markings in Hindi for many places, the first three of which are for Shree Baneshwar – 3 kms, Rajgad – 20 kms and Torna Fort – 30 kms. You have to go inside this road to reach the temple.
On this road, you have to cross the Nasrapur marketplace which can be a mess during the evening (as we found out). it was almost like the Hadapsar market and it took at least 15 minutes to drive through this crowd. After the market, you will see an arch on the right and this road is the entrance to the temple complex. The two photos below will give you an idea of the surroundings of the temple (with the river and waterfall nearby). The second photo will give you an idea on where to turn on Nh4. Searching for Baneshwar will on Google maps will give you the wrong “baneshwar” which is located much further down on te NH4.
It is a small temple with a shiv ling inside. You can buy flowers outside to offer to the god. The dome of the temple is colourful and is a pretty sight in the evening light. Update (based on Ramesh’s comments): The temple has very strange things.. one of that it is built 400 years back. The temple was renovated by the Peeshwa maharaja who is said to be the cheif of shivaji kingdom after shivaji…The shiva linga is made in two parts, if you ask the Preist to explain.. he can allow you to see five lingas inside the main linga, when you remove the top one.. inside under around 1 feet deep you can touch & find it..
The gardens around the temple seem to be the main attraction rather than the temple itself. There are plenty of walkways created through this jungle with ample resting points and open areas for a picnic. Of course, there were lot of people practising the State Hobby of spitting (apart from the other hobby of trekking) in spite of the fact that there were inside a temple compound. The dense greenert is an excellent place to spend the evening with the family.
One of the trails will lead you to the river where there is a waterfall. This path is muddy and can be quite “yucky” to negotiate after the rains. This is a walk of around half a km. The waterfall was not quite spectacular as was writen in many blogs. Maybe, the monsoon is yet to arrive completely. The area around the waterfall was like a mini-Nighoj (because of less water) and people were climbing into the canyon which made for some good adventure.