Believed to have been built sometime between the 10th and 13th century, Sangameshwar temple stands guard over the confluence of the Chamli and Karha rivers, just south of Saswad. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is about 35km south-east of Pune, and takes just over an hour to reach there from Pune.
Dedicated to lord Shiva, the temple holds a commanding position, and must be quite an impressive sight during the monsoons when the rivers are filled with fresh new rains. As it’s located right on the edge of Saswad, it has the feel of being more isolated than it actually is.
The temple is a mix of old architecture, one assumes possibly original, plus later modifications and renovations. The temple’s Shikhara (dome) has literally hundreds of small sculptures of deities carved in consecutive layers. Although now badly weathered, you can still make out these figures on both the main temple and other peripheral buildings.
From the temple platform it’s possible to walk down to the river on both sides, where the are smaller shrines, but I wasn’t able to find any path extending along the river bank going away from the temple.
The main temple has two deepmalas on either side, and an unexpectedly large and colourfully painted Nandi in the middle of the temple hall. I love the way the Nandi is positioned in the temple hall, peering into the interior of the temple.
Further within the temple, just outside the sanctum sanctorum sits Lord Ganesh and other guardian deities carved in the niches of the sustantial walls.
The garbhagriha is a somewhat dark roomed cellar, with a lone diya over the Shivling. You can see Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha in the background with a picture of Saint Sopandev painted on the sidewall.
The sanctum room is far from silent, a chant is playing in a repetitive loop with accompanying sounds of small bells chiming. It’s an atmospheric space, a sense that time has momentarily stood still and you’re awash with a sense of inner peace.
A smaller partially damaged but life size Nandi carved out of black stone lies immediately in front of the temple.
I confess my expectations prior to visiting this temple were a little low, but what I found was quite surprising. I think my next trip to Pune in 2019 will have to include a little further exploration in and around Saswad, there seems to be a few more locations I should check out.
Visiting the Sangameshwar Temple in Saswad would be the perfect stop-off if you were intending to visit the Khandoba Temple in Jejuri from Pune. You’d need about an hour to see the temple and explore its surroundings.
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