6th March – Day 3… Wai
Itinerary for the day
- Mahaganapati Temple / Dholya Ganapati Temple
- Kashi Vishveshwar Temple
- Nana Phadnavis Wada (Menavali)
- Dhom Lake.
After a guided tour of Old Mahabaleshwar the previous day, it was time to go solo again. So after a heavy breakfast in the morning, I headed off to the bus depot in Mahabaleshwar. The destination was the quaint town of Wai about 33 km from Mahabaleshwar.
State transport buses are available from the depot. You can also avail the private cabs but buses are the cheapest way of getting around. The ride takes around 1 hour and costs you around Rs.30.
The temple town of Wai
Located at the base of the Pasrani Ghats, Wai has been always seen under the shadow of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. These hill stations in the Sahyadri ranges are an all-time favourite of the tourists. However, Wai cannot be simply written off, as it has a lot of potentials to attract tourists with its lanes that would remind you of the glorious years of the Peshwas. Wai was also known as Viraatnagari, as it was believed that the Pandavas stayed with King Viraat of Wai when they were in exile. An important centre for business and commerce with traders heading towards Satara and Kolhapur or the port of Konkan.
A popular temple town with mythological links, it is also a favourite tourist destination because of its scenic ambience and the fact that it can be a stopover on the way to the hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. With more than 100 temples, it is known aptly as the Dakshin Kashi, and to top it all, it is also the place where some of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters have been shot.
Maha Ganapati temple is situated in Ganapati Aali Ghat in Wai at a distance of about 10 mins from Wai ST bus depo. In front of this temple, there is Kasi Vishveshwar temple. The large statue of Ganapati of this temple is made from a single black stone and from the same stone the Nandi statue was made in Kasi Vishveshwar temple. The temple was built in 1762 by Ganpatrao Bhikaji Raste. It’s called ‘Dholia’ because of the big size of the Ganesh statue. It is 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Just like at Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple, the Ganpati idol here at Wai is considered ‘Jagrut’. Being 10 feet tall & 8 feet wide, the idol here is also one of the tallest Ganesh Idol in Maharashtra. In the Marathi language ‘Dholia’ means huge or fat. The Ganesh statue is in a sitting position and looks very happy and positive.
One of the unique features of this temple is the ‘fish shape’ given to the back of the temple. This is done to protect the temple from floods in the Krishna River. The fish shape of the temple back divides the water current and reduces the water pressure on the temple and thus protecting it from floods.
Kashi Vishweshwar Temple.
Right across the Maha Ganapati Temple is the Kashi Vishveshwar temple. The temple is famous for its grandeur and beautiful stonework. Spread in a large courtyard, the main temple shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the outside gateway is guarded by a massive stone idol of Nandi. This stone idol of Nandi is said to be carved from the same stone as the Ganapati statue in the Mahaganapati temple.
Some random clicks at the Ganpati Ali Ghat
After a quick lunch break, it was time to proceed to my next destination – Nana Phadnavis Wada in Menavali.
Nana Phadnavis Wada – A glimpse in to the bygone era.
Situated at 5 km distance from the Mahaganapati temple is the Menavali Ghat. And on the shore of this ghat, you will find the Nana Phadnavis Wada. The residence or the Wada here belongs to Nana Phadvanis, an influential minister of the Maratha Empire during the Peshwa administration. Menavali is also his birthplace.
The Nana Phadnavis Wada today remains with his descendants. Having split the major part of his properties between themselves, the Wada is still owned jointly by them all. Wadas are systems of open courtyards of increasing security. The wada here has six courtyards. Nana’s corridors on the upper floor are lined with teak-wood latticework. A concealed escape stairway in the wall leads out of the Wada.
Descending the stone steps leads to the ghat on the river Krishna. On descending the steps, there is a dark musty, narrow, steep staircase concealed in the metre-thick wall to the floor above. The staircase was at once secret and easily secured, admitting only one person at a time into Nana Phadnavis’s darbar hall. The wada contains Murals that have been classified under Maratha painting. A mural here depicts Sita in a Marathi saree. Some of the paintings depict Krishna with Gopis.
Guides are available in the wada who will take you through the mansion and at the same time give you all the information about the history of the place. There’s an entry fee (I don’t remember how much but it was nominal). One more important thing to remember is that while mobile photography is permitted inside the wada and the ghats, camera photography is strictly prohibited.
The Menawali Ghat.
Located right behind the wada is the Menawali Ghat. Krishna river flows calmly making for a serene atmosphere. There’s a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
A bell from the cathedral inside a Hindu Temple
Another interesting feature of the temples at the Menawali Ghat is the presence of a huge 650 kg bell This bell was captured by Peshwa Bajirao I’s brother, Chimaji Appa, from a cathedral in the Portuguese fort at Bassein. Dated 1707, the five-alloy bell bears a bas-relief of Mary carrying the infant Jesus Christ cast into it. The bell is located in a bell house and even today shows no sign of wear and tear. This was also intended to be a show of strength of the might of the Maratha empire.
After spending some quality time at the Menwali Ghat, it was time to move on to my next and the last destination of the day – Dhom lake.
Dhom Lake and Dam – The Pangong lake of Maharashtra.
Situated amidst the scenic hills of Panchgani, with it’s shining green water lays Dhom lake and Dhom Dam. The place is known for its water sports activities though I was not aware of it and ended up on the opposite side of the lake and dam. I took a rickshaw from the Mahaganapti temple to Menawali and then to Dhom lake. If you plan to enjoy some water sports then you need to tell them specifically that you need to go to the watersports side of the dam. Basically, the water sporting activities are on the other side of the dam. Nevertheless, as I was not a big fan of watersports, I did not miss much. Instead, I enjoyed some quiet time by the calm waters of the lake.
Dhom is an earth fill and gravity dam on the Krishna River. Construction of the dam commenced in 1976 and was completed in 1982. The water from the dam is used for agriculture in the surrounding areas as well as for drinking and industries around the area. Dhom also generates hydroelectricity at the basement electricity house. The hydroelectricity project is managed by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board.
The lake and the surroundings are also used for camping. The calm and serene atmosphere is the perfect way to unwind and enjoy some time away from the hustles and bustle of the city. The crystal clear water and the gentle waves lapping at your feet make for a lifelong memory
After spending an hour at the lake, it was time to head back to Mahabaleshwar. The rickshaw dropped me at the ST stand from where I took a bus to Mahabaleshwar.
If you are relying on public transport to get you around, then one important thing to do is be mindful about the bus timings. Even though Wai and Mahabaleshwar are well connected by state transport buses, the frequency is somewhat less. So be sure to enquire about the bus timings and their frequency to avoid getting stuck. Private vehicles can be expensive so ensure that you enquire about the charges and fix them in advance before you start the trip.
After a short wait, I boarded the bus to Mahabaleshwar. This was my last day in Mahabaleshwar as I checked out of Hotel Salas on the morning of 7th March. Originally my plan was to visit the important places in Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani while staying in Mahabaleshwar. But the plan changed at the last moment and the trip was extended further for two days. The reason for this was a unique property in Panchgani which I had come across during the initial planning of the trip as well as my travels to Wai. Even though I tried to ignore the urge to spend a day at Panchgani, the urge was too strong and I ended up extending my trip. More about the Panchgani leg of the trip in my next post. Please read and comment.