The lure of Kondeshwar

Kondeshwar, the spectacular resting place of Lord Shiva since the 12th century, still beckons the nature lovers of Pune and Mumbai. Set adroitly in the lush greenery of Kamshet hills, the three-tier waterfall behind the temple bewitches one and all. The ST bus from Kamshet station to Jambhivali village takes about an hour to get you there, from where it is about a 45-minute pleasant walk to this picturesque destination.

Neither a very steep climb nor descent, a healthy walk along the paddy fields takes you to the resting place of Lord Shiva, aptly known as Kondeshwar because of the water fall in the rear. The waters of the Kundalika River form a 3-tier waterfall by flowing from one kund to another, and hence the name.

Kondeshwar in the monsoons is sheer poetry. There is a steady downpour all the time. The streams from the hills cascade into the valley and the trek to the spot is dotted with terda, the local name for the pink flowers used to adorn goddess Gauri. The chirping of the birds in the wild woods is like music to the ears and the hazy environs add to the magic.

The best ways to enjoy being here is getting soaked in the streams or get a wet hydro-massage under one of the waterfalls. You will find many on the way, but the 3-tier waterfall right behind the shrine is the perfect spot to do so. You could also walk in the lonely woods singing those silly love songs, and when you are tired and sodden, relish on the typical gavran food cooked by the locals. You won’t find any eateries around, but the villagers would gladly cook for you on prior request which can be delivered at the temple.

There is not much to do when you are at Kondeshwar, apart from being an element of the romantic ambiance. The trekking buffs can walk their way up to the historic Shrivardhan and Manaranjan forts of Rajmachi. If you have the expertise, you can summit the Dhak Bahiri pinnacle – it is risky in monsoons though. And if you are the indolent types, who prefer lazing around, you could just gaze at the beautiful temple decked with carvings.

The temple of Kondeshwar is known to exist since the 12th century. This is evident from the strikingly carved transom and the sculptures scattered all around. Surprisingly there are 2 nandis (bulls) and a deepmaal (a stone tower to hold lighted lamps) guarding the entrance. The temple is split into two. The outer hall or the sabhamandap as it is popularly known among the locals is huge enough to accommodate around a hundred people. The ghabhara or sanctorum houses the shivlinga.

Kondeshwar has since long has been the prime deity for the villagers in Jambhivali. They survive on rich paddy harvest the land offers, leading to a happy and contented life. They rejoice during the harvesting season and present the grains to Lord Kondeshwar as offerings. Every Monday and on Mahashivratri, the villagers mob at the temple for a darshan, both being the days dedicated to Lord Shiva. A local festival is celebrated on all Mondays in the month of Shravan.

Kondeshwar has not much to offer, but still there is a lot in that nothingness for a nature lover. As one leaves behind the ‘civilized world’ to approach this unmarked destination, the pure earth calls out to you. You make your way out with a catch in your throat and a small prayer that you may soon return to this blissful state so near to Pune, and retune your vibrations in synch with nature.

© Amit Chilka

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