Pune is a historical city and is famously also known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Not surprisingly, Pune has some old and beautiful temples, like the Ram Temple at Tulsi baug, within the city itself. However, there are some very important and popular pilgrimages which can be done within a day, and this an article for those, like me, who love to visit old temples and explore their history.
Distance from Pune: 22 km (1 hour by road)
Alandi is the resting place of sant Dnyaneshwar, a 13th century marathi bhakti saint. Over the past few centuries the town by the Indrayani river has flourished into a popular religious destination with temples at every street corner.
The river banks are always busy with pilgrims taking a holy dip while the markets are busy with food and various items used in the temples.
Key attractions: Dnyaneshwar Samadhi Complex, Vitthala-Rakhumai Temple and a bath in Indrayani river
To reach: Drive from Pune to Nashik and then onwards to Thrimbakeshwar.
Distance from Pune: 110 km (3 hours by road)
An ancient shrine located in the Sahyadris, the temple is famous for it's Jyotirlinga, one of the only 12 places in the country to have one. Bhimashankar is also the source of Bhima river.
The oldest parts of the temple date back to the 13th century and are built in the Nagara style.
Key attractions: Jyotirlinga and Buddha style carvings nearby.
To reach: Drive from Pune on the expressway and take the exit at Khopoli. Its about fifteen minutes drive from the highway.
Distance from Pune: 213 km (4 hours by road)
Located on the banks of river Bhima, Pandharpur is a popular pilgrimage centre in Solapur district.
The Vitthal-Rukmani temple dedicated to Vishnu and his consort Parvati at Pandharpur is the most visited temple in the entire state of Maharashtra.
Key attractions: The key attraction at Pandharpur is the Vitthal temple and the best time to visit is during the Pandharpur yatra, though it's not easy due to massive crowds.
To reach: Follow the State highway 65 all the way from Pune to Pandharpur.
Distance from Pune: 235 km (4.5-5 hours by road)
Mahalakshmi temple is one of the Shaktipeeth as per the Puranas and are extremely important places for Hindu pilgrims. This temple was first built in the 7th century by the Chalukyas and has been revered since then.
Key attractions: A special yearly festival called Kiran Utsav when the rays of the setting sun touches the feet of goddess in the evening.
To reach: Drive on the Bangalore highway from Pune and Kolhapur will be on the main highway itself.
Distance from Pune: 240 km (6 hours by road)
Trimbakeshwara Shiva temple is a located in the town of Thrimbak near Nashik and also has a Jyotirlinga. It's one of the most important temples of Maharashtra and the Kumbh mela also takes place here.
Trimbakeshwara is also considered to be the source of river Godavari though the river actually originates from the mountains close-by.
Key attractions: Jyotirlinga and pond.
To reach: Drive from Pune to Nashik and then onwards to Thrimbak.
Distance from Pune: 45 km (1.5 hours by road)
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Bhuleshwar temple complex is conveniently located at a distance of about 45 km from Pune and about 10 km from the Pune-Solapur highway. My Twitter friend, Siddhesh, did a road-trip to there with his friends, and I must mention that it's a perfect place for that.
There is an interesting story behind the temple. It is believed that Parvati danced for Lord Shiva on the hill before they moved to Kailash Parvat and got married. Kailash is now in Tibet, China, but is one of the most significant temple for Hindus as it's considered to be the abode of Shiva.
The temple is dated to 1230 and was constructed by the Yadava dynasty.
Key attractions: Apart from the temple itself, the place is also popular among bird watchers. Visit a place called Narayanbet about 15 km from here.
To reach: Drive from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway - it's a diversion of 10 km just before Yawat.