Friday, November 12, 2010

Pandeshwar Temple: A Photo Feature

Pandeshwar Temple is located off Jejuri Morgaon road, around 50 kms from Pune.
It is a medieval temple probably constructed around the 10-12th century, but later renovated in the 18th century as is apparent from the surrounding architecture.
The road to the temple from the Jejuri Morgaon road is rather rough and passes through the green fields. There is also another road from Saswad.
The temple is hidden amidst obscure villages located around the the river Karha. As per the folklore, river Karha was formed from the water of Lord Brahma’s ‘kamandalu’named ‘Kar’ (Kamandalu is a small vessel to store water, generally associated with the Gods and also in use by the ascetics) . The river Karha takes its name from this 'Kar'. 

The folklore even adds the Pandavas to the story.  When the Pandavas were staying in this region, they had planned a Maha yagna (spiritual fire) for which they required the presence of Lord Bramha. Incidently, Lord Bramha was then meditating on the Sahyadri mountains. 
Bhima, the Pandava was entrusted with the task of inviting the Creator of Earth, for the yagna. The powerfully built Bhima scaled the Sahyadris with ease, but on reaching the pinnacle, he to his dismay, found Brahma tranced in deep meditation. 
Bhima waited in earnest hoping for the God to come out of his trance , but to no avail. Therefore sensing the urgency of the situation, Bhima poured the water from Brahma’s kamandalu over Brahma’s head (audacious as it may sound) in order to wake him up. The water that flowed down Brahma's Kar created the river Karha.
The villagers even insist that the temple itself was built by the Pandavas in a nights time. We can obviously take this with a pinch of salt, as this particular folklore is associated with virtually every ancient temple in Maharashtra. But the fact of the matter is, the temple is known after the Pandavas hence called Pandeshwar. So be it.

As one comes across the entrance, what catches ones immediate attention are two large stone dwarapals (celestial gatekeepers),Jai-Vijay , flanking the doorway .These are undoubtedly the most attractive features of this temple.  They are beautifully ornamented and both have stone chatris (umbrellas) carved over their heads.

 The wall is further decorated with fine motif work and carved pilasters . 
The wall has some protruding niched windows (aedicules) where idols of Godesses (presumably Parvati aai) are placed. There are also other figurines of  Godesses Laxmi and Saraswati.

The Pandeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The lower structure (especially the sabhamandapa)  seems to be from the 10-12th century,and  is made from black stone, in the Hemadpanthi-Yadava style, 
while the shikhara over the garbhagriha is made from lime and plaster in the Devali-Nagara style ,complete with niched windows (made in meghdambari style) and figurines of deities, all painted in bright colours. 

The Shikhara obviously was done much later, or maybe renovated later (as we assume in the 18th century). Its evident, as the construction material of the shikhara is different from the material used in the sabhamandap.

The pillared sabhamandap has several aedicules(niched windows). Previously there might have been idols placed in them, but presently they are vacant. 

The garbhagriha (sanctum) houses the Shiva Linga .

The Nandi is placed along with the idol of Lord Ganesh, outside the sabhamandapa in a separately constructed arcade structure ,

which runs like a curved passage around the temple.

On the walls are some scenes from mythological epics carved in a mural form.

Just next to the Nandi room, one finds a narrow stairway which leads to the terrace .It seems to be built in the Indo Saracenic style and has four minarets in the four corners often giving a impresion of a mosque. Secular architecture indeed (Some have also told me that temples in the medieval times were deliberately designed to resemble mosques from a distance, so as to ward off vandalising attempts by muslim soldiers). From here one can get to see the entire arcade structure and the Shikharas of the main temple.

The temple premises also has several smaller and minor temples, besides the traditional ‘Tulsi Vrindavan’. One such temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha while others are dedicated to Kunti and at least four Pandavas. 
The temple of the fifth Pandava (Arjuna) for unknown reasons is located a few kilometers away from the Pandeshwar temple in another temple called Nageshwar.

The  temple has a tall stone post with a carved emblem at the top .It faces the river Karha as it flows alongside.

The entire temple premise has an embankment to prevent the water of Karha entering the temple premises, especially when its level rises during the monsoons.

Placed in one corner of the temple is one shilalekh (stone inscriptions) in the Modi script, probably mentioning the ‘Jeernoddhar’ (renovation) details.

There is also a ‘veergal’(hero stones) in the vicinity, and a stone carving depicting a warrior (probably Arjuna) weilding the bow.

Also located below the embankment is a Kurma (Vishnus avatar as a tortoise) carving etched on a stone slab. The tortoise has a spiritual significance in the temples.A tortoise can withdraw all its limbs and head within its shell akin to a spiritual aspirant who withdraws his senses from the material world.
A trip to the Pandeshwar temple is indeed memorable because of its serene surroundings, unique architecture and medieval traditions.

Text and Photographs: Abhijit Rajadhyaksha


  1. can you make facebook page for Pandeshwar Temple or village

  2. Why not....I will try to make one....However I need more info on Pandeshwar, especially the history.

  3. The temple architecture depicts the architecture of the Chalukyas. Though this might have been built by the Yadavas of Deogiri, the then feudatory rulers under the Chalukyas of Badami.

  4. Beautiful description.Thanks.Liked the temple soooomuch.Dekhne jaana hi hoga

  5. See all our wide range of Wall Mural Designs which will Enhance The Beauty Of Your Home or Office, also have large choice of Painting prints from world promising fine art painters.

  6. Recently been there on 21st May 2017. A must to see place and architecture. I would really love to see this place again sometimes in monsoon, also this happens to be my in-laws native.