Absolutely by fluke I stumbled upon this place – Neelkanteshwara!!
“I am tired of the routine…” I thought. “I really need a break!”
But with kids, their exams, household chores and office it only seemed like a distant dream.
“How about a half day break at least” I thought.
And then started my search…
My criteria was a place close to Pune, close to nature and something that we, as a family, would enjoy!
I found my place within half an hour. A look into Facebook and I saw one of my friend had just done a half day trip to a place and the photos looked magical. Neelakanteshwara it was!
Neelakanteshwara is at a distance of around 40kms from Pune. It is an ideal destination for half a day trip. While a short trek will give you a good exercise, you can also enjoy the nature’s beauty here and rejuvenate yourself! And the gigantic sculptures here will surely leave you spellbound!
A Bit about its History:
Sarje Mama found the Shiva Linga on the hill where Neelakanteshwara temple is situated and he built the temple around the Shiva Linga. He is the one who has built huge sculptures near the temple. Sarje mama has also done a lot of work in rehabilitation of the alcoholics and has rehabilitated almost 4-5 lac people. He himself is god to many people now!
How to reach:
There are two routes to reach here.
You can either go from Khadakwasla dam to Panshet and then to Neelakanteshwara or from Kudje Village to Splendour County to Neelakanteshwara.
The climb is for around 45 – 50 minutes. It is steep at many places, but there are steps built and you would really enjoy the trek! The road gets muddy in rains and you have to be a bit careful.
What to see:
You can easily spend around 2 hours here.
As that name suggests, there is Lord Shiva’s temple here. Neelakantha is another name for Lord Shiva. The story goes that Lord Shiva consumed the poison that emanated from the seas due to the Samudra Manthan and his throat turned blue. From that time, he was named the Neelakantha, which means one with a blue throat in Sanskrit.
View and Nature:
For the nature lovers, this place has got some really amazing views thanks to its proximity to Khadakwasla, Varasgaon and Panshet dams. You will get to see the backwaters of all these dams. If you are visiting it in rains, then you would get a chance to experience the mist and you get to have a walk in the clouds. The place is at its best in monsoons. Although the road gets muddy in rains, it’s still a must visit place.
The Huge Sculptures:
If you have kids, then they will have a blast here. There are huge structures from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Also, there are huge structures of saints and gods and goddesses. You would be zapped by the size of these magnanimous structures. If you plan to teach lessons from mythology to your kids then what else would be a better way to do so!
The temple trust serves food between 12 to 2 pm and 7 to 9 pm and there are misal joints on the top and at the start of the trek. Locals serve buttermilk as they do on Sinhagad.
Best Time to Visit:
It is good to visit this place post monsoon season when there is greenery everywhere. Many people love to visit it in monsoon as well but it should be avoided when the rains start pouring badly as the road is not motorable and the climb becomes difficult.
I recently read Rujuta Diwekar’s book Notes for healthy kids and loved her suggestion that we should have family trips which involve a lot of physical activity and not just trips to malls. I feel a trip to Neelakanteshwara is a must if you are planning such family bonding over the trek!
What do you say? Have you been to this place? How did you like it?