Pandeshwar Temple is situated 60km south-east of Pune on the north bank of the river Karha, 12km east of Jejuri and 12km west of Morgaon.
This is yet another interesting temple in the region for which there is little information available, so one should consider this more of a photo feature, although often one of my readers contacts me with supplementary information so there may be subsequent updates. Please click on any of the individual photos to view them in a larger format.
The external of the main temple here has what are now familiar clues suggesting this was originally a medieval structure, possibly from the Yadava dynasty, that has been substantially renovated during the Maratha era. A great example of such alterations can be seen at the nearby Bhairavnath Temple in Loni Bhapkar.
The temple entrance is certainly one of the highlights here, with two large dwarapalas (gatekeepers) flanking the doorway, alongside an ornate facade with some detailed carvings, protruding niches, and perforated stone screens (Jalis) which were motifs borrowed by the Yadavas from the Gujarat region.
Something that only became apparent to me whilst editing these photos are the paintings on the front elevation of the temple, in a faded red, depicting men riding horses or accompanying horses. I’ve not been able to find these mentioned before anywhere, but they don’t appear to have been done in recent times. As I didn’t notice them at the time, the only photo representation I have of them is by extreme cropping of other photos.
The shikhara has all the hallmarks of being either radically modified or completely rebuilt in the 18th century by the Marathas. Covered in lime plaster and depicting a multitude of deities, the brightly painted tower contains many architectural elements heavily influenced from the Sultanate style of architecture.
Aside from the main temple, a number of structures also exist in the temple compound that were almost certainly instigated during the Maratha era.
A standalone covered arcade curves around the river bank, stairs at either end give access to the roof and views across the countryside. The walls of this arcade contain scenes from the epics, although sadly they have been quite badly damaged in more recent times.
Opposite the temple entrance is a standalone structure housing a Nandi in the center along with an idol of Lord Ganesh. There are stairs here that can once again take you on to the roof.
Immediately beyond this is a plastered brick and stone pillar with three segments, tapering towards the top, with images carved on the upper segment. Again there are stairs to take you up to the top, but I confess the structure didn’t look immensely safe so I didn’t risk venturing up.
It’s not immediately clear to me what the purpose of this tower is, it would provide a 360 degree view of the environs so one could suggest some form of lookout tower. My only other thought was whether fires were lit from the top of this tower for some purpose. If any of my readers have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.
There are a number of subsidiary shrines in the temple complex dedcated to Ganesh, Kunti, and at least four of the Pandavas. A shrine of the fifth Pandava, Arjuna, is said to be located at Nageshwar Temple a few kilometers away. The reason why they are not all clustered together is unknown.
The interior of the Sabhamandap is painted in pink and blue and is almost devoid of any detailed carved motifs.
On all four sides are a number of niches, I presume images of deities ones resided in each of them but they are now all empty.
The style of the columns seems to confirm that this part of the temple is indeed of the Yadava period, and is in stark contrast to the orange painted passageway and sanctum beyond which appear to have been built by the Marathas. The sanctum now houses a Shiva Linga, although it is quite possible that originally this temple was dedicated to another Hindu deity (most likely Vishnu) and was switched to Shiva during the Maratha renovations here.
The temple gets its name from the Pandavas, local folklore says they stayed in the region and built this temple over the course of a single night. It’s fair to say that’s not the first time I have heard this story attached to a temple in Maharashtra, but interestingly the river Karha immediately east of this temple is also associated with the Pandavas.
In that legend, the Pandavas planned a maha yagna (spiritual fire) for which they required the presence of Lord Bramha. Bhima (one of the Pandavas) was tasked with finding Lord Brahma, who was known to be meditating in the nearby Sahyadri mountains at the time.
Bhima scaled the mountains easily, and upon reaching the summit spotted Brahma who was motionless in a deep meditation. Bhima waited for a while hoping Brahma would stir, but the remained in his trance. Getting impatient, Bhima poured the water from Brahma’s kamandalu (water vessel, or ‘Kar’) over his head in an attempt to wake him up. That water which flowed is said to have created the river Karha.
That concludes a photo tour of the Pandeshwar Temple, if any of my readers have any additional information regarding this site I would love you hear from you.
Being located so close to other temples of interest such as the Khandoba Temple at Jejuri and the Mallikarjun, Someshwar and Bhairavnath Temples at Loni Bhapkar, it would be quite easy to club these together as a day trip out within striking distance from Pune. The temple enjoys a rural setting by the river, which would make a visit here during the monsoon season even more memorable.
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