Parali village (also known as Parli, or Pareli) is located close to the banks of Urmodi river and dam, 1km north of Sajjangad Fort and pilgrimage site, 14km west of Satara and 135km south of Pune. The village serves as one of the starting points for anyone wishing to trek up to Sajjangad Fort as opposed to driving close to the summit.
Located a short distance north-west of the village, the Puratan Shiv Mandir temple site stands in isolation and appears to be rarely visited. None of my reference books mention this temple at all, and nor have I managed to determine much from numerous internet searches. In terms of a photographic record of what exists at this wonderful little site today, I believe this to be the first such attempt.
There are two main temples at the site, both built in a Hemadpanti style. Details of this type of construction can be read in my blog post on the Mallikarjun Temple at Loni Bhapkar.
The southern temple is now ruined and may be the older of the two. Some scholars have suggested that carvings and masonry from this temple were re-used in the construction of the potentially slightly later adjacent northern temple.
The northern temple appears to have the same footprint as its ruined southern counterpart. The mandap measures just over 7m square, with four rows of four pillars 2m apart supporting a flat roof about 3m high. In the center is a round raised platform supporting a Nandi facing the sanctum.
The mandap also houses additional pillars, some of a very different style to what appear to the original ones. I’m not altogether sure if these were later additions inserted to assist in supporting the structure or whether they were part of the original plan for overall the temple.
The interior of the temple is wonderfully carved with geometric motifs, but has no imagery of people or deities carved on the fabric of the interior. Two side niches have been incorporated to house carvings of deities, which are currently used for that purpose.
Outside however, the front balustrade of the temple flanking the entrance is heavily decorated with human imagery, and contains a significant number of panels depicting erotic scenes (one seemingly involving a donkey).
In front of the two south-facing temples are the remains of a number of structures. An elaborately carved Deepstambha (lamp post) or potentially a Victory Pillar on a well carved platform look to be reused materials from perhaps the southern temple.
Nearby is also a crudely constructed pavilion, two Nandis (one headless now), and a beautifully carved Ganesha idol sitting in the open air.
To the north are a few further small shrines, and a 40m square tank which is overgrown now and I only subsequently discovered via Google maps.
The main temple clearly shows evidence that it was renovated during the Maratha era. If the southern temple was desecrated, this may have happened when the Moguls took Parali in 1700 A.D, although it is slightly curious why this wasn’t rebuilt as opposed to constructing a new temple right beside it. That is of course if the theory regarding the dating of these two temples is accurate, and I am by no means an expert on that.
Located in the vicinity of the two temples is a fascinating and somewhat unusual Shiva Linga. I was going to declare this as a Mukhalinga, which usually have four or five faces, sometimes with an invisible fifth face at the top of the linga. Here however we have three equal sized faces on the outside, an “invisible” face of the same size in the center, but an additional two smaller faces on the outside.
So do we have a six-faced Shiva Linga here ? I’m not sure I have come across another such example, but if anyone has any thoughts on this I would appreciate your comments.
Forming an east-west line in front of the main temple entrance are a set of north-facing hero and sati stones. They are in quite good condition, although set in ground that is not maintained at all and so liable to quite a lot of vegetation growth during/post monsoon. For anyone unaware of what hero stones actually are, please read my blog post on the Hero Stones of Loni Bhapkar.
My time here was extremely limited so the documentation of these stones will not be as thorough as at other sites I have blogged about recently. I quickly photographed 22 stones here, but I think with more time I would find significantly more. Perhaps a good excuse to return here at some point in the future 🙂
Here are the details of the stones I recorded. This starts at the western end nearest the main temple, and heads east away from the temples.
My time at the Puratan Shiv Temple at Parali was a little short. This was in fact an unplanned excursion as our true destination for the day was the nearby Sajjangad Fort. With a later than planned start and the journey taking longer than anticipated from Pune, the light was rapidly disappearing we had to depart.
For sure one day I will return here and give this wonderful site the attention that it so richly deserves. Even after 21 visits, India never ceases to amaze me in what hidden heritage gems can be found in this spellbinding country.
My thanks to Saili Palande-Datar for making me aware of this site, and to my old friend Alok Dave for the company, photos of the five/six-faced Shiva Linga, and means of transport 🙂
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