Prati Balaji Temple - Naryanpur - Purandar Fort - Saswad


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Well, if you don’t have time to visit Lord Shri Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati Devasthanam or Saibaba shrine at Shirdi, then you must visit their replicas built very close to Pune, one at Ketkawale (Replica of Balaji Temple) and other at Shirgaon (Replica of Shirdi shrine).

How to reach?

Take NH4 (Mumbai - Bangalore Highway), cross Katraj Tunnel - Shindewadi - Khed Shivapur - Nasarapur Phata - Kapurhole village. Take left to join Bhor-Saswad road after Hotel Anand to reach Balaji temple at Ketkawale. Plenty of signboard enroute to guide you. It is located 35-40 KMs from Pune.

If you travel further straight after Ketkawale for another 10 KMs, you will reach Shri Kshetra Narayanpur (Dutt mandir) - Purandar fort (7 Kms from Narayanpur) and then to Saswad. You may return back to Pune from saswad via Diveghat - Hadapsar.

Suggested Pit stops / rest areas

(With parking facility, open space, good food and clean toilets)

  • Joshi wadewale -> snacks corner just after crossing the Katraj Tunnel on your right. Tasty food like Wadapav, Misalpav, Tea / Cofee, wada Sambar etc. lots of space.

  • Hotel Natraj -> near Khed Shivapur (on your left while traveling towards Satara). Good place for south Indian breakfast. UDUPI management.

  • Vanpatre bandhu Bhelwale - Khed Shivapur is also famous for a different kinds of Bhelpuri (not Bombay or Chowpaty style)

     

Balaji Temple, Ketkawale

Dreamed up by Padmashree Dr. B.V. Rao of the Venkateshwara Hatcheries corporate group, the Venkateshwara Temple is a magnificent replica of the original Tirumala-Tirupati temple. The temple was a mega initiative by the Lord Venkateshwara Charitable and Religious Trust, a trust set up by the Venkateshwara Hatcheries corporate group. Built at an estimated cost between US$3 to $5 million, the temple also provides living rooms and kitchen facilities for visiting devotees. The entire project was undertaken under the guidance of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.
Picturesque verdant hills topped by dense cumulus cloud and mist surround the 10 acres of flat land, on which stands, this abode-of-the-Lord in the Sahyadris.


En route, plenty of signboards advertise Venky’s (India) Ltd. products from Venky’s chicken to Uttara Atta (flour). Close to the temple is Uttara Foods’s 100 ton per day, wheat flour plant.

The stone sculpture of the original Tirumala-Tirupati temple has been mimicked in wood and painted in Grey oil-paint. All the woodwork is kept scrupulously clean by an army of attendants with large and small brushes. The sculpted spire over the sanctum-sanctorum is painted yellow to pay obeisance to the Gold spire of the Tirumala-Tirupati temple. Even the black stone and other building material have been brought from Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu. The construction of the temple went on from 1996-2003.



The twenty-five laddoo-makers who make authentic Tirumala-Tirupati laddoos and twenty-five garland-makers hail from Tirupati. The eight priests who perform the puja also hail from the same families as those of the original temple. In addition, the hotline between Kapurhol and Tirupati is used at least four times a day for ‘‘the perfect advice, on how to go about the various pujas.’’ So there is no compromise on the religious proceedings.

There is always long queue especially on weekends. On any given day, some 15,000 people visit this Venkateshwara temple . On weekends, it is double the number. Best time to visit is on weekday or early in the morning on weekends.

Temple is open from 6:00 AM till 10:00 PM.


Dutt Mandir @ Shri Kshetra Narayanpur

Narayanpur is situated at the bottom of famous Purandar fort. Though the road to the temple is not good, still the trip is enjoyable because of the beauty of the nature. Narayanpur is village of Sant Changdev. It is also famous for Lord Datta's Temple.This was the ancient and famous Dattatreya temple of Shrikshetra Narayanpur. A tree of " Audumbar " here is very old and is worshiped by pilgrims.There is also an old temple of Narayaneshwar built some 1000 years ago in Hemadpanthi style. This temple and 3 sculptures in the temple are very pretty. These sculptures are said to be of 'Yadav' era. Narayanpur must be seen by both - the pilgrims as well as the nature lovers - because of 2 temples " Lord Datta " and " Narayaneshwar " and the beauty of the Purandar valley.

 

Fort Purandar

Purandar is about 40kms south-east of Pune, 7 KM from Narayanpur and some 10kms south-west of Sasawad. Perched on a gigantic mountain mass, its height above sea-level is 1398 meters and about 700 meters above the plain at its foot. It really comprises two fortresses: Purandar, the stronger and more important of the two, and Vajragarh, small sister fort situated on a ridge running out east of it. Purandar has two parts: the upper or Balekilla with precipitous sides all around and the lower part or machi about 300 meters above the plain. On the north side of the lower part there is a broad terrace comprising the cantonment area of the fortifications. There are many monuments, old and new, on the terrace. Towards the east of the terrace, beyond a narrow ridge, lies the fort of Vajragarh, also called Rudramal.

From the cantonment are of the terrace a winding path leads to the upper fort. The approach is commanded by the Dilli Darwaza, the main gate. The most important monuments, on the summit of the hill is the old temple of Kedareshwar.

The history of the Purandar fort goes back to the 13th century. The Bahamani Sultans in the 14th century built here some walls and bastions. From 1484 AD, for about a hundred years, the fort remained in the hands of the Nizamshahi rulers. In 1596 AD, the fort was given as Jagir to Maloji Bhosale, grandfather of Shivaji. However, Shivaji had to struggle very hard to establish his control over the fort in 1646 AD. In 1665 AD, Purandar was besieged by the mighty Mughal forces under the command of Jai Singh and Dilir Khan. In the ensuing battle Murar Baji Prabhu, the gallant commander of the fort, was killed. Shivaji, under a treaty, had to surrender to the Mughals his 23 forts, including Purandar and Vajragarh. At the lower fort a statue of Murar Baji Prabhu has been installed in his memory.
Purandar was recaptured by Shivaji in 1670 AD Later it became a favorite retreat of the Peshwas. Purandar was captured by the British in 1818 AD. During the Second World War, the British kept here the German war prisoners. Dr. H. Goetz, one of the German prisoners, thoroughly studied Purandar and wrote a monograph on it. After Independence there also functioned a National Cadet Crops (N.C.C.) Training unit at the top.

Places to visit on Purandar: Bini Darawaja (Purandar Machi), Padmavati lake, Kedareshwar temple, remains of Peshwe's palace, Birthplace of Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa & Sambhaji (Shivaji's son), Konkan darwaja, Murarbaji Deshpande's statue.

How to reach on the Fort -

1 Hour climb by trek route from Narayanpeth village (moderate) and 2 hour climb by Vehicle route (easy) on foot to Bini darwaja (Purandar Machi). 45 minutes from there to Kedareshwar via Balekilla or 45 min to vajragad from Bini Darwaja.

Vehicles can go till Bini Darwaja or near the Purandareshwar Mandir but road is not good. You need to check with local villagers about condition of road before taking your vehicle there.

Click here for the map of Purandar fort.

For more details, refer to -> http://www.geocities.com/trekforts/f_pur.html


Saswad

Saswad is a taluka town 33 km south of Pune at the foothills of the Purandar fort, and 30 kms from the last stretch of the Dive Ghat. According to Babasaheb Purandare, the great narrator of the grand Maratha saga, “every inch of Saswad soil has a chapter of history written on it!” Places to visit are - Sangameshwar temple on the confluence of the rivers, Karhe and Chambli (Sangameshwar temple has Yadav era sculptures), Purandare Wada (impressive wada fortress belonged to Sardar Jai Purandare) and Sopandev temple.

Jadhavgarh Fortress : Built in 1710 by Pilaji Jadhavrao, a valiant Maratha general, the fortress lies in the heart of Jadhav wadi a 25 acres land to the east of Pune at Pune-Saswad highway. Constructed at a highly critical point in the Maratha history, the fort was built over of period of five years atop a hillock. The fort was constructed bearing its defense systems and residential use in mind. Pilaji established his garrison at jadhav gadhi overlooking the Diwa Ghat and Pune.

On the way back you can take Dive Ghat route to Hadapsar and Pune. At the bottom of the Dive Ghat is a partly filled lake. A government board proclaimed it as Ahilyabai Holkar Talav. However the locals all know it as the Mastani lake. Legend has it that Mastani, the beautiful and brave consort of Bajirao Peshwa, one of India’s greatest generals, often frequented the place for a leisurely bath.

Where to Stay?

The Orchard Resort at Khed Shivapur

If you are planning to spend a weekend, the "The Orchard Resort" at Khed Shivapur would be ideal choice. The Orchard Resort is the perfect place for arranging group picnics, Conference holidays or even a brief stopover on your way to Balaji darshan. The Orchard Resort is enveloped in thick lush green cover admeasuring over 1,50,000 sq.ft. Along with this beauty of nature you can experience a unforgettable stay at our 30 A/C rooms with the facilities of Restaurant and Bar. You can also enjoy our Water Park and Swimming Pool with Indoor Games, Outdoor Sports and huge Children's Park.


Fort Jadhavgadh (Palace hotel) at Saswad -

'Fort JADHAVGADH' (Built in 1710 by Pillaji Jadhavrao) is the first in a series of Heritage forts scheduled in Maharashtra and the Rest of India. Situated in the beautiful rolling hills located 22 km away from Pune on the old Pune – Satara Road at a height of 2511 ft above sea level Fort Jadhavgadh lies in the heart of the Jadhavwadi – a 25 acre land. The Fort a fine example of Maratha craftsmanship was built by Pillaji Jadhavrao. A man who himself was as strong in mind and body as the stone structure he envisioned to create. The man named Pilaji Jadhavrao - Maratha General in the army of Chatrapati Shahuji, proved his mettle each and every time someone dared to challenge the supremacy of the Maratha ruler.

This fort is now converted into finest hotel (there are only 2 palace hotels in Maharashtra - Shalini Palace at Kolhapur and now Fort Jadhavgadh near Saswad)


Additional Places to visit -

Additional places to visit on Pune - Bangalore highway after Katraj are -

  • Baneshwar Temple : Baneshwar is just 5 kms away from the Orchard resort. This place can be enjoyed within a day. It is developing as a picnic spot having an old but beautiful temple of Lord Shiva. The temple is situated in dark woods - known as Ban (or Jungle) - and hence it is called as 'Baneshwar'. Though the temple is very simple, it is very pretty. The main entrance, light stand, Dharamshalas , 2 clean water tanks, a big bell are good to see.

There are idols of Devi Laxmi , Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahadev in the temple. There are five Shivlingas here in trench which can be easily seen with the help of light. Behind the temple there is a garden and a small stream which adds to the beauty of the nature.
  • Qamar - Ali- Darwesh Darga: Though this is a holy place for Muslims, but people from all the religion come here to experience the magic. This is mainly known for its magical stone. Stone is approximate 70 to 100 kg., but a single parson can not lift that stone though is a heavy weight champion but only eight people can lift this stone by taking that holy name on tip of their figure.

  • Bhatgar Dam - 40 kms from Pune is a beautiful place called Bhatgar (On Bhor-mahad route). It has recently developed as a picnic spot. Bhatgar Dam is on the river Velvandi, it is one of the highest river dams wall in India. Bhatgar Dam is also known Lloyd Dam. Beautiful gardens with water sports have been developed in the surrounding areas. Surrounding area is also worth watching. There is boating available in the river at Rajgad Boat Club on Pune - Satara Road before Shirwal.