Pataleshwar Cave Temple – the oldest temple in Pune
Among the old temples of India, Pataleshwar Cave Temple is one such temple that has been built in the 8th century during the period of Rashtrakuta. Previously the temple was outside the boundary of Pune but recently with the extension of the city, the temple has been included in the city of Pune. It is now situated on Jungli Maharaj road downtown. The temple is actually carved out of Basalt rock and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The government of Pune has declared as one of the protected monuments. The word Pataleshwar means lord of the underground world. At this temple, Lord Shiva is known by this name.
The exact history of Pataleshwar Cave Temple is uncertain, but it is believed to have been built in the 8th century during the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The temple is a rock-cut cave temple, which means it was carved out of a single rock, in this case, solid basalt. The temple is an excellent example of rock-cut architecture in India and is considered a significant architectural and cultural landmark in the city of Pune.
The temple was used as a place of worship for many centuries and was considered a sacred site by the local community. However, over time, the temple fell into disrepair and was largely forgotten until the late 19th century, when it was rediscovered and declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. Since then, the temple has been restored and is now a popular tourist destination and religious site for Hindus.
Today, Pataleshwar Cave Temple is considered an important part of the cultural heritage of India and is visited by thousands of people each year, who come to admire its ancient architecture and to pay homage to Lord Shiva and the other Hindu deities worshipped there.
The timing for Pataleshwar Cave Temple typically varies based on the time of year and other factors such as festivals and special events. However, here are the general visiting hours for the temple:
- Summer (April to June): The temple is typically open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
- Monsoon (July to September): The temple is typically open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
- Winter (October to March): The temple is typically open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Please note that these are general visiting hours and may change based on various factors. It’s always best to check with the temple authorities for the most up-to-date information on the visiting hours and any changes to the schedule.
Here are some interesting facts about Pataleshwar Cave Temple:
- Rock-cut architecture: Pataleshwar Cave Temple is a rock-cut temple, which means it was carved out of a single rock. This makes it a unique example of rock-cut architecture in India.
- Ancient temple: The temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century during the Rashtrakuta dynasty, making it one of the oldest temples in the region.
- Dedicated to Lord Shiva: Pataleshwar Cave Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the most important deities in Hinduism.
- Intricate carvings and sculptures: The temple features intricate carvings and sculptures of Hindu deities, including Lord Shiva, as well as other Hindu gods and goddesses.
- Protected monument: Pataleshwar Cave Temple was declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India in the late 19th century and is considered an important cultural and architectural landmark in the city of Pune.
- Popular tourist destination: Today, the temple is a popular tourist destination and is visited by thousands of people each year who come to admire its ancient architecture and to pay homage to Lord Shiva and other Hindu deities worshipped there.
- Religious significance: Pataleshwar Cave Temple is considered a significant religious site for Hindus and is a popular destination for pilgrimage.
Temple structural design
The temple is a very old one and the structure is ancient and really impressive. The sanctum of the temple houses a Shgiva Linga, which is a symbol of creation according to Hindu Mythology. Other smaller rooms are there on both sides of the sanctum. The circular-shaped canopy is supported by square pillars and is known as Nandi Mandapa. This structure is unique and the statue of Nandi, the divine ox, and carrier of Lord Shiva is a rock-cut model. It is believed that if anybody whispers his or her wishes in the ear of Nandi, it is fulfilled.
There are three sanctums in the temple complex. There are statues of Lord Rama, Laxmana, and Mother Sita in the other sanctums. The cave lies a bit lower than the level of the cave complex and the road giving it the appearance of patal or underground. Although the temple is a beautiful structure built by ancient architecture but it has been left unfinished due to reasons. You can see the unfinished part of the complex as you notice the circumambulation path. Maybe due to some faults in the rock, the other parts of the temple are left unfinished. The huge cave complex houses a garden and the walls of the cave have been depicted with Hindu mythological stories.
Main attractions of the cave
The temple itself is attractive with its unique features and is the best place to visit in Pune. It is something that would provide the metropolitan people a break from the hazardous regular life. The walls speaking stories of ancient mythology, and the jarring electric lights, and the enchanting environment altogether make it exclusive. Major attractions are:
- The umbrella-cut structure with massive pillars
- the exceptional structure of the rock-cut cave
- The unique sound of the hanging temple bell
- And finally the grain of rice on which 5000 letters have been illustrated
Reaching Pataleshwar Cave Temple
The airport of Pune is well connected with major cities of India is the nearest airport of Pune. Autos and cabs are available from here that would to the cave temple located in Jungli Maharaj road. The neatest railhead is the Pune railway station. Local buses and autos are available that would take to the cave temple via Wellesley Road. Pune is also good in road connectivity and Nasik is at a distance of 208 km while Mumbai is just 147 km from the city of Pune.
Nearby places to visit
If you are planning to visit this awesome cave temple then you can also visit some other nearby places. Other places of interest are:
- Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park
- Jungli Maharaj Temple
- Shaniwar Wada
- Vishrambaug Samaj Mandir
The temple cave is almost 1300 years old and there is the Archeological Survey of India, Pune Department that stands just adjacent to it. The shiv linga is worshipped daily with yogurt and ghee. There is also a temple bell made of brass that hangs from the ceiling and devotees ring it while entering the temple. The Pataleshwar Cave Temple is also known as the Bhamburde temple. As per Hindu mythology, it is said that the temple was carved by the Pandavas while they were spending their life in exile and were in need of shelter. The temple is awesome and devotees come here to get some spiritual peace by connecting with the divine. Visitors are allowed to enter the temple from 8 in the morning till 5 in the evening.