It’s hard to believe a place like this could be located on the downtown Jangli Maharaj Road (JM Road) in Pune. Most cave complexes I’ve visited in India have been situated in more rural locations, this comes as a complete surprise and is well worth a visit if you are in Pune.
The Pataleshwar Cave Temple (also known as Panchaleshwar or the Bamburde Temple) was carved out of the bedrock in the Rashtrakuta period in the 8th century AD. Although the temple is now completely swamped by the urbanisation of Pune, it was once on the very outskirts of the city.
Pataleshwar is one of the names of Lord Shiva. The word Pataleshwar literally means “God of the Underworld”.
Carved out of the basalt bedrock, the sanctum is a cube shaped room with a Shiva linga inside, on each side of the sanctum are two smaller cells.
Whilst there, look out for quite a large number of curious rock carvings, mostly on the floor of the cave. I’ve yet to determine exactly what these all represent, and the age of them could of course be relatively new.
Just outside the cave itself is a circular Nandi Mandapa with its umbrella shaped canopy and massive square pillars of the Mandapa.
The temple is apparently modeled on the Elephanta rock temple near Mumbai but was left incomplete, possibly because of a fault line found at the back of the sanctum which made the further sculpting unsafe. An alternative theory is political upheaval resulting in loss of patronage.
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