27-July-2011: I and G both were on leave this Monday as we had planned to go to Satara and make it a long weekend. But the plans got shelved and instead we decided to make a short trip somewhere closer to Pune. I had read and heard about a place called Baneshwar, which is close to Pune and we decided to go there. It’s mainly a spiritual cum picnic spot. A temple located among fabulous green locales, surrounded by dense forest, a river flowing through it and to add to it a small but beautiful waterfall. A perfect place for half day/one day picnic.
Baneshwar is around 35 kms from Pune on Pune-Satara Superhighway. This highway which passes through serene Shayadri ranges, rivers, ghats, streams, green farms, yummy food joints etc is one of my favorite places to drive. Nothing like it to go on a long drive on this road in the monsoon or winter time.
Around 8 kms from Khed-Shivapur toll on your left, you will see a sign board for Nasarapur, pointing to right direction, take a right turn here. You then get on a small road, where you will see the sign boards showing directions for Baneshwar, Raigadh etc. Don’t ask why the board is not before the Nasarapur junction; HAI likes to make all travels on their roads a true adventure :).
This road (if at all you can call it one) is at the best pathetic. It passes right through the Nasarapur town and has all the chaos, small shops and taparis all over, many road side vendors etc which you will find in all most any small town India. In the weekend you are sure to get stuck there for a long time (we had once stuck here real bad while returning from Rajgadh trek). After about 1-1.5 kms, on the right side you will see the Kaman for Baneshwar. Once you enter through it you feel like being transported to some different place. All the filthiness, dirt, dust, pollution, noises are forgotten and you enter the dense forest, endowed with cool breeze, no dust/pollution zone. After driving a bit you come to the parking area.
Straight up is the entry point for the temple. As temple is situated in the dense forest – i.e. Ban (or Jungle) – and hence it is called as ‘Baneshwar’. The temple is quite old going back around 260 years. It was built by NanaSaheb Peshwa in 1749. He thought the place is perfect for building the temple, in the middle of the forest flanked by the river. The temple is simple, but very pretty. The main deity here is Shiva. I always feel divine visiting old temples like this one built with stones. The temple complex is of medium size which also has two tanks near the temple. The tanks have various fish and a tortoise. Just standing besides the tanks is quiet cool and comforting.
Once you come out of the temple on your left you will see a trail going uphill. The trail is beautiful, with lots of big trees, some part of natural forest along with many small decorative and flower plants. As you walk along the path, soon enough, a soothing sound starts reaching your ears and you realize there is waterfall nearby. The walk to the waterfall is about 5-7 minutes and is easy. It is small but beautiful. At that spot the river bed shrinks and small gorge is formed, from where the water flows with high speed and drops down a small fall. There is a small watch tower from where you can have a good view of the river, waterfall and surrounding forests and farms. A perfect place to take the pics for memories. There’s a warning which the forest department has issued about getting into the river near the waterfall. It can be dangerous as the currents can be high here. Be mad about adventure, but don’t do mad adventure.
There are various other places around, like rock garden, lotus garden and many other gardens where you can just sit and the time passes by. Unfortunately our time flied faster than that and we had to leave for Pune, so didn’t explore them. Something for the next time. Also outside the temple there are couple of small hotels serving some snacks. But we recommend getting something to eat with you and enjoy the lunch/snacks sitting on the wooden benches in the middle of the jungle.
The breathtaking landscape, beautiful old temple, with resonating waterfalls, cool breeze energizes you for the reality of the every day city life. The best time to visit is monsoon and winter season. A good family place for a short picnic. So do visit and experience the magic of this natural wonder.