Saswad:Nature, History and Rustic Simplicity

by Atula Gupta on April 21, 2010 · 14 comments

In India it is still fairly simple to leave urbanization behind and reach a place where the only things you run into are lush green meadows, wild flowers and quaint hill tops. These destinations are not what you will find in tourist maps, but what the path going out of a crowded city will automatically lead you to.

Saswad near the city of Pune in Maharashtra is one such destination. Hidden amidst the effervescent Sahyadri mountain ranges, the place is a jewel of an abode for someone who weighs far more importance to nature than nightlife. If you are living in Pune and desperately in need of a break or if you are a traveler dying to see the India of the small towns and villages, Saswad is a good place to begin.

Flickr photo by Swami Stream

Flickr photo by Swami Stream

This fledgling town has as much natural beauty as history hidden inside the walls of long forgotten fortresses and temples. In fact it has given to India many of its eminent saints, leaders and authors. Saswad was also once the epicenter of many activities of one of the greatest Maratha rulers- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Things to See and Do

The exploration of Saswad can begin right for the foot hills of the mountain one has to climb to reach the town. The valley is known as Dive ghat and has a beautiful lake call Mastani Lake built by Maratha ruler Bajirao Peshwa for lady Mastani.  As you climb along the serpentine path cut through the mountain, the view becomes ever more mesmerizing and trekking is most certainly a viable option here.

Saswad looks particularly heavenly during the monsoons and if that is the time you opt to visit, the gurgling sounds of seasonal waterfalls, cascading from every crevice down the mountain will only add to the adventure. Some of these falls are at a distance, but most are easily approachable and irresistible when all you wish to do is splash around in the cool natural springs.

Once you reach the plateau, it has its share of roadside eateries, mountain caverns turned into temples, and scattered villages, but what you see most are green pastures, fields and acres and acres of land with freshly grown figs, custard apples and sapodilla. Women and men sitting at the roadside shacks are more than eager to part with these delicious, freshly picked fruits at an easily bargained price. But be sure to buy ample as once you have tasted them you will definitely want to have some more.

One of the first historical monuments that comes into picture as you approach the town is Fort Jadhavgarh, a 300 year old fort that has been recently renovated and converted to a hotel. If you have the time and the money to spent, it is a fantastic experience in itself, with also a museum attached with the hotel.

The town itself looks sleepy, and laid back with just one main market place and fewer eating places, but as you dig deeper into the small lanes, another fort wall shows its existence. It is actually the Purandar Wada, a dilapidated structure today, but considered to be Maharashtra’s oldest standing structure of the era when Peshwas rules the kingdom. It was the residence of a minister in Peshwa’s court named Ambaji Purandare most probably in the year 1710.        

The road to Saswad and beyond is also a major pilgrimage route. There are ample temples and shrines spread within the town limits and also further at places known as Narayanpur, Jejuri, Pandharpur, Morgaon and Bhuleshwar.

Sacred Nandi Bull at Sangameshwar Temple

Sacred Nandi Bull at Sangameshwar Temple

A temple worth a visit in Saswad more so for its historical significance rather than the religious one, is the Sangameshwar temple at the confluence of two rivers Karhe and Chambli. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and believed to be built during the Yadav era what is particularly interesting about the temple is the huge Nandi Bull adorning the path leading to the sanctum sanctorum and looking majestic in every way. During monsoons, when the rivers are overflowing, the view of the ancient temple and the water bodies is breathtaking.

A short distance from Saswad at a place called ketkawale is also a temple dedicated to Lord Balaji, which is a magnificent replica of the world famous Tirupati Balaji temple.

View from malhargad fort, Flickr photo by DraconianRain

View from malhargad fort, Flickr photo by DraconianRain

For historians, the area is flooding with information on India’s great past. The forts of Malhargad, Vajragad, Rajgad and Torana are all located at a yawning distance from the town. Maratha Rulers were known for their ace gorilla warfare skills and the knack to built forts that lie hidden behind the great Sahyadri Mountains. There are many instances in history when the mighty Mughals attempted to scale and conquer these forts but failed. One look at the way the forts stand today is enough to realize the immense difficulty the Mughals must have faced and the brilliant architectural knowledge the people living in those era had.   

You can have an impromptu picnic at any of the many meadows you see here, or you can live for a few moments like a king in the heritage hotel in the vicinity. You can forget frozen foods and taste the goodness of farm fresh fruits for a change or you can even get yourself invited to the small huts of villagers living in the area with a big smile and even bigger hearts. You can walk, ride a bike or climb a mountain. You can even ride a wild horse grazing happily somewhere around if that is what you feel like doing.

What you can experience best in a place like Saswad, is an India untarnished, unpolished and unspoiled by commercialization. Spend a day just exploring and accepting the place as it is, and you will have seen a part of India, not shown in any guide books.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 parashuram June 2, 2010 at 3:30 am

Sir,
You are displayed Sacred Nandi Bull at Sangameshwar Temple. But this Nndi’s picture is from Shri.Changa Wateshwar Temple.Please name it correctly.

2 Atula Gupta June 5, 2010 at 12:15 am

Thanks Mr. Parashuram for pointing out the mistake, the sacred Nandi Bull Picture is indeed of the Wateshwar Temple. I have rectified the mistake.

3 Asif September 1, 2010 at 2:43 am

thanks…………………….
hamare saswad ki information dene ke liye

4 amit jagtap September 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

after reading i really feel very gr8 abt I am from saswad. thanx a lot.

5 amit a jagtap October 2, 2010 at 3:27 am

its really great !!!!!!!!!!!

6 parashuram October 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Thanks, Hon’ble Atula Gupta, Please once again welcome to saswad visit.

7 yogesh(munna) Inamake December 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

This is a very good information.This infornmatiom read every people & bring the knowledge for saswad.
JAY MAHARASHTRA JAY SHIVAJI MAHARAJ

8 Amy Fain June 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Great Job. i did not expect it on Friday. This is a great share. Thanks!

9 Sharad Belsare October 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I liked the description of Saswad. It was indeed natures’ paradise some sixty years ago. Sangameshwar & Vateshwar temples with Karha & Chambali rivers full of water was delightful and serene experience. The very construction of Abasaheb Purandare wada where we attended school is intriguing. It has seven spaces open to sky and some five underground tunnels. One of the tunnels is believed to go upto Purandhar fort some five miles away from Saswad. The exterior walls of this wada are about 14 feet thick and has a huge entrance door with spikes mounted on the door. However, the charm and the beauty of the place is no more there when I visited the place in 2007.

10 Rajesh Mehtta March 12, 2012 at 4:48 am

Dear All,

Can you suggest a good Hotel for Stay at SASWAD ??

11 akshay June 21, 2012 at 5:34 am

should i got more inf. about the purandar wada ?

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13 jivan jagtap October 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Thanks This is a very good information.This infornmatiom read every people & bring the knowledge for saswad.

14 navale manoj January 25, 2016 at 2:13 am

this is great information Thanks an included than god temple

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