Ghorwadeshwar cave temple
A lazy Sunday afternoon in winter. With Vidhya and Akshara out of Pune for 2 weekends, i had planned on a few short road trips. One of them was a visit to the Ghorwadeshwar caves just on the outskirts of Pune. I combined this with a visit to Birla Ganpati Temple (the huge Ganpati Statue on NH4) and Shirgaon Sai Baba Mandir. Alternatively, you can combine this with a visit to the Ayyappan temple in Dehu Road.
Ghorwadeshwar caves are believed to have been carved around the 3rd century A.D. The places is protected now. There are many prayer halls on the top with the biggest one being converted into a Shiva shrine.
How to go to Ghorwadeshwar Caves: The caves are located just before the toll plaza near Somatane on Nh4 (coming from Pune). You can easily miss the base. Watch out for an arch with some steps going onto a hill. Another landmark is a giant water tower on the right. If you have crossed the water tower, you have missed Ghorwadeshwar. Once you open up the below map, switch to satellite mode. I have marked the destination right at the base of Ghorwadeshwar. You should be able to see the steps leading up to the cave.
What i thought would be a short 20-min walk to the top turned out to be close to an hour’s climb. But, nothing difficult about the climb. There are proper stairs until the half-way, maybe around 200 of them. Once you reach the half-way point, you will come to some sort of a rocky plateau, which is a good place to catch you breath if you intend to go forward OR enjoy the view, click photos and start the walk down! There is nothing else so high in the surrounding and hence you can spend hours watching the traffic go through the toll plaza. Of course, you get a good (albeit a little far) view of the huge Birla Ganapati. From the photos i had seen on other blogs, this place is super-green during the monsoons and would be a great option for an evening trek.
I was here with Lokesh and he, not being a regular at walks/treks, needed some rest mid-way. But, we were determined to go on. A lady at the chai-stall advised us to continue from here on, not on the main path, but on a small side track, which she said would be much easier. There are no stairs from the mid-way to the caves, but a wide-enough eroded mud path which can be tricky to climb during the rains. But, judging by how the side-track looked, Lokesh felt that the lady had tricked him! But, i would advise the side track any day, as it was far more interesting and fun to climb. Yes, it is a bit narrow at some places, but it is a gentle slope and a fall wouldn’t cause much damage. The third photo below can give you a comparison between both the paths.
On this trail, we heard a constant bell sound closing in on us. Then, we found that it was a cow which was also climbing up to the cave temple. It must have been a regular looking at its fitness and the ease with which it was climbing!
Once you cross the mid-way, you start to see the caves (a portion of it). They are at two levels. At the bottom level, you have two sections and then you continue on around the mountain to the top.
Once you reach the caves, you will come to a fork. Turning right on the fork will take you to the main set of caves. These caves face westward and hence are beautifully lit up at evening. Also, you get a good view of the expressway. One of the caves has been converted to a shrine which has a shivling inside. There are lot of water storage tanks dug into the ground.I heard that this place gets very crowded during mahashivratri.
Going beyond these caves will take you to a route to the top, but we didn’t proceed as a) it looked too narrow and b) we had more places on the agenda.
If you take the left on the fork, you go to one set of broken caves, which i presume is being used by the priest. Nothing much of interest there.
A good place for an energetic walk and nice views for an evening outing!