Kanifnath temple near Saswad
A short drive (30 kms) away from the city brings you to a temple on top of a small hillock. A short drive, a good ghat section and something unique in this temple make this a very good option for 2-3 hr break from the city.
Shri Kanifnath Maharaj was one of nine teachers in the Navnath Sampradaya, a Hindu Parampara who believe that Rishi Dattatreya, an incarnation of the Holy trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to be its first teacher (Source: Bhatakanti). This temple is dedicated to him.
How to go to Kanifnath Temple from Pune (magarpatta city): There are two ways to go from Magarpatta. Either go to Saswad and then to Kanifnath (slightly longer) or go through Kondhwa Road (beautiful ghat section in the middle). The map shows the second option which i think is the easier and the more scenic option. Go towards Big Bazaar. Take the left after the one next to Big Bazaar. This is the Prince of Wales Drive. In the next major junction, turn left to go on Kondhwa road. After this keep going straight for few kms. You would come to a junction where the left goes towards Saswad, the right goes to the highway and the straight goes into the hills. Keep going straight. If you are unsure, ask for Bopdev ghat, dont ask for Saswad. People will direct you to the Saswad road if you ask for Saswad though the Bopdev ghat road also goes to Saswad. After the ghat, you will see a big board for Kanifnath on the left and then it is a straight road to the top of the hill. One of the landmarks could be the plane-shaped water tank we saw on the way!
Once on the top, you get a beautiful view of Pune city. You have to climb around 20-30 steps to reach the temple from the parking or take your vehicle on the road (bad road) to the right of the parking to reach the back of the temple.
The unique thing about this temple is that the main shrine is in a closed room and only men are allowed to enter it. It is not just walking through a door! There is a small opening, probably a little more than a foot in either direction through which you (only men and topless too!)have to crawl into and also come back the same way as you are not supposed to point your foot towards the shrine. No photos were allowed so i dont have any, but it was interesting watching people of all sizes and shapes get into the shrine. Plan your trip such that you reach the temple around sunset as the evening light is just great on the temple as there are no other hills around. We did the usual stuff, lot of photographs , chai-bhel at the shops outside and we were back to Pune within a few hours. Hari and Akshara also had a separate photograph session on their own. Check out those photos here.