Shirdi attracts millions of spiritual seekers annually and a visit on the way to Pune can uncover many secret gems. The offbeat attractions, villages and cultural places are extra spice in your pilgrimage making your pilgrimage richer than being within the temple precincts.
- Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple:
Launch your quests, blessed by the legendary Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati temple in Pune. Located in the 19th century, this spectacularly ornate statue is encrusted in gold and precious stones dedicated to Lord Ganesh. This is an experience full of the spirit that comes with reverberating chants. Ornate architecture as well as a vibrant atmosphere.
- Shaniwar Wada:
For those interested in history, explore the majestic 18th-century fort of Shaniwar Wada. Tour the beautiful remains of this illustrious palace, be informed about the enriched heritage of the Peshwas, and watch a light-and-sound manifestation unfolding a story of the past.
- Loni Kalbhor:
At the side-tracked highway is where this village called Loni Kalbhor can be found which gives a glimpse of rural charm. Go to Bhuleshwar Temple, which is a set of three cave temples built in the 13th century that have very detailed carvings and sculptures. Take a walk uphill and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside.
History enthusiasts should certainly pay a visit to Morgaon. An Ashtavinayak temple is a place where the 18th-century Shri Mayureshwar Ganapati village. Seeing the exquisitely sculptured figure of Lord Ganesh studded with jewels is delightful.
The picturesque town of Jejuri which is only an hour’s drive away from Pune gives a feel of the rural Maharashtra. The village lies on top of one such hill and it is famous for its Khandoba temple where Lord Shiva resides. Visit the mountain top on the hike to the temple for the best-ever panoramic views and indulge in the rich cultural heritage.
Lovers of Lord Ganesha have a home at Ranjangaon where there are Ashtavinayak temple complex. The five temples dedicated to the animal god are thought to grant wishes fulfilment and spiritual relief. Wander through the complexly crafted icons, taking in the tranquillity.
- Shani Shingnapur:
In addition, devotees who want the blessings of lord Shania are advised to head towards Shani Shingnapur. Unusually there is a village with houses without doors, indicating that the villagers believe they need no door as their god will watch over them. Experience a glimpse of open houses and shops, and learn about religion’s raw and purest form of faith.
Avoid the busy streets of Aarey Milk Colony Road, and head down to Ghodegaon. It is a beautiful Maharashtrian village. engineer et al (2017) have observed that there is an increasing awareness of the issue on social media and other platforms. Stroll through the rich green farmlands, drop into some local shrines, and have a chat with the amiable locals.
It is like a fairyland found between the mountains of Sahyadri. Experience hiking to the Randha Falls, taking a boat ride on Arthur Lake, and just sitting down for a view. This serene retreat serves as an antidote to travel rigours.
- Kalsubai Peak:
An exciting trip to Kalsubai Peak – the tallest point in Maharashtra! However, the tough ascent pays you off with amazing wide-ranging views of neighbouring surroundings.
Unveiling Untrodden Paths: Other adventures along the Pune-Shirdi line.
Moreover, there are several other jewels in the Pune-Shirdi route that remain undiscovered. Travel deeper into the core of Maharashtra, it is a magical mosaic of cultural variety, wondrous heritage and majestic scenery.
Take a trip back in time to the magnificent Chakan Fort located on top of the hill that overlooks the river Pawana. Go through the ramparts, enjoy panoramic views, and explore the history of the fort that saw wars and intrigues during the Marata Empire.
Traverse Naneghat mountain pass, is an old commercial road that existed in the 2nd century before the modern period. Explore the wilderness on foot, see cave shelters and ancient cisterns carved in rocks, and be amazed by an ancient architectural masterpiece.
Junnar is a town which history buffs would love as it has many forts, caves and temples. Visit the Shivneri Fort where the famous King Shivaji was born; check out the amazing cave-like paintings on the walls of the Lenyadri caves, and the calmness of the old Jain temples which are old.
The Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is one among the twelve jyotirlingas that are highly revered for lord Shiva. Situated in between beautiful hills, this holy temple allows you to rethink your life and soul.
Spiritual serenity can be achieved by a visit to the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga which is among the twelve famous Jyotirlingas venerated to Lord Shiva. The silent temple amid beautiful mountains is an oasis where you can hear yourself talk.
Get into the throbbing colours of Tokawade village known for Warli art. Visit the formation of complex tribal paintings on mud walls to see how things were done in order days ago, know different customs, and take home a bit of your own culture.
Discover Alephata, an oasis for bird watchers where one is away from the urban sprawls. This wetland is among many in the wildlife sanctuary and the ecological diversity results in the different bird populations that include migratory birds. Sit back in the boat, appreciate the fresh breeze, and marvel at the feathery miracles.
- Malshej Ghat:
If you are looking for scenery visit Malshej Ghat which is also popular with its breathtaking falls, green valleys, and monsoon rivers. Walk through green hilltops, experience captivating waterfalls and take photos of incredible landscapes which will remain in your memories forever.
- Shivthar Ghal:
Go for an exciting expedition with a hike in Shivthar Ghal – difficult but worth it! Overcome the high hills, penetrate thick woods, and admire spectacular landscapes. While this trek will test even the heartiest traveller, it is still unreal and unforgettable – simply breathtaking.
A trip to the Velhe village will allow you to go back in time and experience first-hand some aspects of Marathi history. Walk into some complex carved temples, walk through small streets and see ancient houses. Get close to the rural way of life, taste and appreciate the hospitality of the village dwellers.
Climbing the famous Harishchandragad will allow you to enjoy wonderful scenery across the countryside. Visit the ancient caves, the celestial observatory, and the remnant of the once-glory fort. While this trek is demanding, the beautiful panoramic views and sense of accomplishment make the experience rewarding.
However, these extra hidden treasures make your Pune to Shirdi trip by cab richer. Going beyond the norm shall take you into an unknown realm of beauty, history and culture with memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
Beyond the Tourist Trail:
Though not very popular, these hidden gems give peeks into the soul of Maharashtra displaying the culture, natural beauty, and spiritual heritage. Exploring paths less walked will make everlasting impressions on your experience of the city, while helping you gain unique insights into a new land.
Tips for Embracing the Offbeat:
- Research beforehand: Make an itinerary and inquire about the opening hours, visiting times, as well as needed permits.
- Pack appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and bring necessary items such as sunscreen, water bottles, and comfortable footwear.
- Embrace the unexpected: Expect unexpected side trips and diversions.
- Respect local customs: Cover legs and cleavage appropriately when passing by religious areas, and take photos only after obtaining approval.
- Support local businesses: Buy souvenirs and handmade crafts from local artisans and eat in local restaurants to support locals.
Adding these breaks to your trip from Pune to Shirdi and return from Shirdi to Pune by cab will make it a meaningful cultural & spiritual journey. But do not forget, sometimes, the best discoveries are made at the end of a less travelled road, by curious or adventurous people.