Continuing my mini project to document Hero Stone sites during my travels around India, I recently visited the Shiv Mandir at Nerhe, 1km east of Kasarsai and 30km north-west of Pune.
For anyone unaware of what hero stones actually are, please read my blog post on the hero stones of Loni Bhapkar which provides a little bit of background context. Other hero stone sites near to Pune include Kikali, Morgaon, and Kondhawale.
Whilst the site here can boast a healthy collection of hero stones, 53 in total, their condition in terms of weathering is quite poor compared to other locations near Pune. There are also a number of stones for which only partial remains survive. As a result, I have decided not to dedicate so much of my time interpreting the individual stones here, but instead to merely present them individually with their location for anyone who will find this useful for research purposes.
These stones are not recorded at all on the internet, so if nothing else this blog post will rectify that omission.
The vast majority of hero stones to be found here, 49 in total, are lined up against the southern and western compound wall thus (click on each image to view in a larger format):
Below are individual images for stones #1 to #49. In order to save on my rapidly depleting available storage, these are of relatively low resolution. Please contact me if you require any higher resolution images.
The remaining four hero stones reside in external niches either side of the temple entrance. They are covered in Vermilion and now worshiped.
Note that stone #50 is fragmentary, and I’m not even sure if it was originally a hero stone at all.
One significant difference with the hero stones found here as opposed to other sites at Loni Bhapkar, Kikali, Morgaon and Kondawale is the disappearance of the lower panels depicting our hero in battle against enemies or lying dead, those being replaced by a single larger image of our hero standing alone in a fighting pose.
Geographically this site is slightly removed from the aforementioned sites, so perhaps this implies a regional style and fashion that was more prevalent in this area.
That concludes my short virtual tour of the hero stones at Nerhe near Pune. Over the last couple of decades there has been much construction in the area, and I suspect these stones have been found and relocated here as fields have been cleared. The severe weathering and fragmented nature on many of the stones would perhaps suggest that they haven’t been at this sheltered site for very long at all.
If anyone knows of any more hero stone locations near to Pune I would love to hear from you. I would very much like to continue their documentation when I’m back in Pune in (hopefully) early 2021.
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