Weekend Trip to Neelkantheswar near Pune
"Pratik, I don't like it when the roads and surroundings are empty. I feel afraid.."
"Oho.. Don't worry. I am sure of the road. There's no hiccup."
We drove ahead on the road, dead straight. After a few minutes, settlements ceased to exist. There were dry fields, green fields, trees and the road. There were small hill-tops here and there. Going towards Singhad Fort, a river came our way. I had read somewhere that there was a road but it was not to be found.
"What? I had told you to check all the details before starting. How can you be so selfish?"
By selfish my co-traveler meant adventurish. She was not game to adventures, not at all. "Oho I didn't know baba, let's see.."
We saw a couple of people who crossed the river on a small boat. I guessed that's it now. Somehow I made her agree, and we crossed the river to reach the other bank. From there, the road was the most treacherous one. We drove carefully ahead, and after another 30 minutes or so, we found a board - showing the way to Neelkantheswar. We reached there at about 12 PM.
We found very attractive places on the way, small waterfalls, A point where wind was at its fullest, different rock structures, big pools of water, small playful hurricanes making beautiful scenes with sand and dry leaves. You could easily spend some time for refreshment in the way.
But I can tell you what not to do in this trip. Don't go with adults, and don't reach there at noon. The sun will be ready to roast you.
Then came the headache of a climb. Nothing to worry about. Climb is on a 30 ft wide road (not tarred though) which will take you to the top. It has couple of hairpin bends and steep gradient at some place. Hence, vehicles are not allowed there presently. After the exhausting climb of nearly a kilometer (and some refreshing buttermilk) we reached the top.
Neelkantheshwar is very wide on the top. There is a huge temple of Shiva and the place gets its name after him. But the main attraction of Neelkantheshwar is hundreds (1700, I was told) of sculptures, mainly associated with Hindu mythology e.g. 10 Dashavatars, Ashtavinayakas, Kalia Mardan, Bakasur-Bhim story, Vaali-Sugriv yuddha, Sant Ramdas, Shivaji Maharaj, Ramayana & Mahabharata, Jesus Christ and so on. The list is endless.
From what I found out, Sarjemama, a forest ranger, found the Shiva linga on this hill, built the temple around it and made those hundreads of sculptures. You can easily spend 2 hours on the top. The view from the hill-top is amazing. This is the place from where you can see Panshet and Varasgaon dam side-by-side. You can also see a big lake and the Sinhgad fort. The view is very beautiful especially during rainy season.
"Now say, isn't all the pain in traveling worth to get to such a beautiful place?" I asked.
"I don't know, I want a pleasurable experience. But this is nice," she giggled as I spread my hands and closed my eyes standing on the edge of the hill.