Shirwal Buddhist caves near Bhor
A short and sweet trip from Pune: Drive through two scenic roads, a small off-road section, a short 20 min easy climb to a set of buddhist caves and a snack stop at Vithal Kamats. Can be done in a half day trip from Pune.
Shirwal caves are a set of around a dozen small buddhist caves located near the Bhor exit from the Mumbai-Bangalore highway. It is not a very popular tourist destination and hence you won’t get a big crowd there. One of the caves is a Chaitya, a hall housing a small stupa. Over the years, a shivling has also been added. Local villagers told us that regular pujas are done in the morning and evening.
Route to Shirwal Caves from Pune (Magarpatta): The easiest route is to go on the highway and then exit near Bhor. But, we wanted to go through a slightly longer scenic route. So, our route was something like this: From Magarpatta, we went to Saswad, came down to the highway through the Narayanpur route (As of June 2019, this road is under heavy construction, so expect bad sections), visited Shirwal, stopped at Vithal Kamats for snacks, and then returned through the Panwadi Route. There is a newly (less than 2 yrs) opened restaurant called Spice Hut near Narayanpur (at the edge of the cliff). Wonderful location for a short break. We were doing the Panwadi route in reverse for the first time and it was beautiful.
Once you are in the highway, the turn to Bhor (under a bridge) comes after the bridge on the river (the only major one which comes before Mahabaleshwar). You don’t need to turn to Bhor. I have given the route (which is technically the first legal right turn on the highway after the bridge). The most obvious landmark you see when you are near is the HUGE tower visible from the highway (you can see in the first image on the top). Once you reach the point mentioned on the map, there is a kuchcha road (can become very slushy in heavy rains 🙂 ) which goes straight to a parking place for the caves (marked by the red arrow). If you are confused, just ask any villages/shop guy for the route.
From the parking place, it is a short climb (choose your own route) to the caves. Nothing spectacular, but still beautiful. Small caves and as usual filled from messages from our lovely citizens! In the image below, you can see that tall tower, the cars at the parking place. That will give you an idea of the height to climb (not much)
We took the return route through Panwadi and it was a good decision. We had always done the route from Saswad to the highway (Panwadi Route). The reverse direction provided a totally different set of views to enjoy! If you are tired, just drive back on the highway. Below are some images from Panwadi route. Overall, a very nice short and sweet trip!