In one of the articles in Times Of India, I read about Neelkantheshwar. Also I have seen Neelkantheshwar in one of the episodes of 'Bhatakanti', on Aplha TV-Marathi. As Neelkantheshwar is very near to Pune, we planned for a one day trip.
Neelkantheshwar is actually a big hill which is around 50 km from Pune. It is near Panshet. It got its name because of the temple of Neelkantheshwar, i.e. Lord Shiva.
There are two routes to reach Neelkantheshwar.
1. Go to Panshet by Pune-Khadakwasla-Donje Phata-Khanapur-Panshet. Panshet is having two dams- Panshet dam and Varasgaon dam. Follow the road to Varasgaon dam. On this way, you'll get a small road going to Neelkantheshwar. There is a board at this point. This road is in very bad condition. It goes straight at the base of Neelkantheshwar.
2. There is one small village between Khanapur and Panshet. I am not remembering the name. Small boats (hodya) from this village will take you to another village, across the river. Neelkantheshwar is around 4 km from this village across the river. If you come via boat, you
have to reach Neelkantheshwar base by this 4 km walk. But this walk is really enjoyable.
We follow the first route. By taking the bumpy ride on the bikes, we reached the base at 10.00 am. From base you have to proceed by walking. Its 30-40 min. walk. The road for the top is very wide, but it is very steep. So, we took a small break in between and got fresh for next part. We reached the top at 10.45 am.
Neelkantheshwar hill is very wide in size. It has a big temple of Neelkantheshwar. But the main attraction of Neelkantheshwar is hundreads of sculptures made from cement. The sculptures are mainly associated with Hindu mythology. Some scenes are also presented through these sculptures. Some of the sculptures I am remembering are- all the 10 Dashavatars, Ashtavinayakas, Bakasur-Bhim story, Vaali-Sugriv yuddha, Sant Dnyashwar, Sant Ramdas, Shivaji Maharaj, Jesus Christ and so on. The list is endless.
Sarjemama, a forest ranger, has made these sculptures. He only found the Shiva linga on this hill, built the temple around it and made those hundreads of sculptures. Sarjemama is also associated with 'Vyasan Mukti Abhiyaan'. As per the newspaper cuttings in the temples, Sarjemama rehabilatated 4-5 lacs of alcoholic people.
There is a small hotel just outside the temple where we had some bhel and limbu sarbat.
The view from the hill-top is amazing. You can see backwaters of Panshet, Varasgaon and Khadakvasla dam. You can also see Sinhagad from here. The view is very beautiful in the monsoon.
After having a photo session, we start descending at around 1.00 pm. On the way to Pune, we took our lunch in Kombdi dhaba near Panshet. Food was very delicious. After lunch, we left for Pune and reached at around 3.00 pm. Fortunalety / unfortunately, there was no rain for the complete day.
Text contents from Abhaynerurkar