Anyone visiting Old Mahabaleshwar is likely to know about the Panchganga Temple, the temple where the waters of five rivers – the Koyna, Krishna, Venna, Savitri and Gayatri come together. But right behind the parking for the Panchganga temple, there is a small well-marked trail which takes you to another temple well worth exploring – the Krishnabai temple.
The well marked path takes you through woodland to a clearing at the side of the hill, and what has to be one of the more dramatic temple settings I have experienced in India.
The temple consists of an arcaded court, originally I think was possibly open but later roofed over, with a high stone wall at the rear.
Here is the supposed source of the Krishna river, with direct parallels with the nearby Panchaganga Temple in having that water pass through a stone spout carved as a cow which falls into a cistern below.
It’s an incredibly atmospheric and beautiful setting, amplified by the fact that seemingly few people make the short walk to visit this place. The views are spectacular, overlooking the Krishna valley down below.
As for the age of this temple, that’s a hard one to figure out. Some sources attribute it to a ruler of Ratnagiri on the Konkan coast who built it as late as 1888, other sources claim origins going back to the Pandavas (as is often the case at temple sites). I suspect none of them are necessarily wrong, the temple looks and feels ancient and has no doubt experienced many alterations and additions over the centuries.
The Krishnabai Temple was without doubt the highlight of my all too brief visit to Old Mahabaleshwar, and well worth checking out whilst you’re there.
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