WAI – A Temple Town with Ancient Mythological Links

With its strewn of more than 100 temples, both ancient and new, Wai is an ancient mythological town and is also known as the ‘Dakshin Kashi’ of Maharashtra.

Wai is ideally located between the 6 forts –  Pandavgad, Kindergad, Kamalgad, Varaitgad, and the twin forts Cahndan-Vandan and offers beautiful views all around.

Dhoom Lake, Also known As Wai Lake, Wai, Maharastra
Dhoom Lake, Also known As Wai Lake, Wai, Maharastra

Doesn’t the picture remind you of the Pangong lake at Leh?  Well almost similar…

Most of the temples here at Wai are constructed using the Hemadpanthi Style of Architecture that uses massive stone slabs without or very less use of mortar for building a structure.

Dholya Ganapati Temple, Wai
Dholya Ganapati Temple, Wai

At Wai, the most renowned and popular temple is the Dholya Ganapati Temple or Maha Ganpati Temple (built in 1762 by Ganpatrao Bhikaji Raste). Located on the banks of River Krishna, the temple is situated along the Ganapati Aali Ghat. 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.

Ancient Visweshwara Temple, Wai Image @sneha-rathod
Ancient Visweshwara Temple, Wai Image @sneha-rathod

The Vishweshwara Temple nearby is famous for its grandeur and beautiful stone work. Spread in a large coutyard, the main temple shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the outside gateway is guarded by a massive stone idol of Nandi.

Nandi protecting the Doors to Kashi Vishweshwar Temple, Wai - maharastra
Nandi protecting the Doors to Vishweshwar Temple at Wai – Maharastra, Image @suresh-isave


Courtyard at Nana Fadnavis Wada
Courtyard at Nana Fadnavis Wada
Portrait of Nana Fadnavis
Portrait of Nana Fadnavis

Another interesting place on the Menavali Ghat is the Nana Phadnavis Wada. The Menavali Gahat is approx 5 kms away from the Dholya Ganapati temple and is very beautiful. 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 birth place.

Completed in the year 1780, it is a six-quadrangled 4 floor residence, each floor lined with intricate teak-wood lattice work and panels. One can also look into some really interesting Maratha paintings and motifs here.

Intricate Woodwork seen at Nana Phadnavis Wada, Wai
Intricate Woodwork seen at Nana Phadnavis Wada, Wai

The rear entrance to the Wada opens up to the Menavali Ghat that has the Vishnu Temple and the Meneshwar Temple which were both the temples were constructed by Nana Phadnavis.

Menavali Ghat is one of the most beautiful ghats at Wai

Also see the 650 kg bell just outside the ghat which was brought here from the Cathedral of Fort Bassein, Vasai by a Maratha General. The bell is made using five alloys and dates to 1707 and has a cast of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus on it.

Other Ghats & Temples of Wai

Brahmanshahi Ghat:

Govardhan Sanstha Ghat:
Krishna Mandir
Ganpati Temple

Ramdoh Ghat:
Rameshwar Temple
Chilavali Devi temple

Gangapuri Ghat:
Shiva Temple
Dwarka Mandir
Bahiroba Temple
Dattatray Temple

Dharma Puri

Lord Vishnu Temple
Mahalaxmi Temple

There is also a Krishna Mandir at the Govardhan Sanstha which is a 110 years old Goshala and the first institute to have launched a model project of electricity generation from cow dung to be used a fuel.

menavali-ghat-wai1Do take a walk along the walls surrounding the ghats as these too have some amazing stone architecture and throws a glimpse of the past era.

The entire surrounding with its dense forests, calm river stream and idyllic life of the villagers make you feel calm and peaceful.

In recent years Wai has become a favored movie shoot location and more than 200 movies in various languages have been shot here. List of Movies shot at Wai: Dabangg, Ishqiya, Omkara, Swades, Chennai Express, Bol Bachchan, Singham, Gulaab Gang, Zila Ghaziabad and Gangaajal.

Excursions From Wai

Dhom Dam:

Visit the Dhomeshwar Temple and the beautiful Narasimha Temple, that are both located at Dhom Dam and are quite a popular pilgrim spot. There are boat ride facilities available at Sahyadri Boat Club at Dhom Dam, near the Boriv village.

Narsinha Temple at Dhom Village, Wai – Maharasthra

The temple has two statues of Narsinha (a fierce posture) of a Lion and a Soumya (normal posture) on either side, while the lotus shaped pond outside has the Nandi idol laying on a stone tortoise and is quite unique.


Lohare Palpeshwar Caves: are ancient caves that have a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located at a distance of 5 kms from Wai and is located near MIDC Wai.

Shiva Linga at Palpeshwar Caves near Wai
Shiva Linga at Palpeshwar Caves near Wai

Do check out more amazing pictures of the Lohare Palpeshwar Caves by Amitshri Kulkarni

Pandavgadh Fort & Pandavgadh Caves: The fort was built by the Kolhapur Silahara chief Bhoja II. (1178-1193) of Panhala and makes an ideal trekking destination from a village called Gundewadi near Wai.

Do stop by to see the unique grinding wheels that were used to churn limestone and lead, probably made for the construction of the Fort.


The Pandavgadh caves are located near the fort and have been constructed in Buddhist style of architecture. Pandav’s stayed here for a while during thier exile, hence the name ‘Pandavgadh’. East of Cave II is an eight-celled dwelling cave or vihar about thirty-five feet square and five feet high. The floor has been much silted up with earth brought in by rain water.

Mahuli: People interested in more ancient sites should also visit Mahuli, an ancient town known for its beautiful temple shrines. It is located 37 kms from Wai and is where the confluence of River Krishna with Veena River happens.

At Mahuli, the three chief temples of Rameshwar, Kashi Vishweshwar and Sanghameshwara.

Kashi Vishveshwarlocated at Mahuli
Kashi Vishveshwarlocated at Mahuli

The ancient Kashi Vishweshwar Mandir here at Mahuli is quite similar to the one located at Wai.  This one belongs to the 17th-18th Century and was built by Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi. The stone ceilings and panels have lovely carvings and exquisite stone work throughout. The Vithoba Temple (built in 1730) and Ram Mandir (built in 1772)are also located nearby.

Visit the Someshwar Temple (built in 1874) which is managed by the Royal Family of Satara and has a sabha graha too for meditation purposes. Also, see the Rameshwar Temple located right opposite along with some Gosavi Samadhi along the Veena River. The Nandi at Rameshwar Temple has some amazing stonework, a rare piece of architecture indeed.

Nandi at Rameshwar Temple at Mahuli

Just a kilometre away from Someshwar Mandir is the Mausoleum of Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the grandson of the Chatrapati Shivaji. There are a few more samadhi’s located nearby that may have belonged to the royal family of Shiviji clan.

Panchgani is a popular hill station and is nestled in the middle of five hills – in the Sahyadri mountain ranges and amidst five villages known as Dandeghar, Khingar, Godwali, Amral and Taighat. it is just 12 kms from Wai.

Enjoy the scenic views, fresh mountain air, visit the Table Top (a volcanic plateau, that is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetian Plateau) and gorge on the delicious strawberries at Mapro Farm.

There is even a Sydney Point that offers great views during sunrise and  sunset. Also click some amazing pics from Kate Point and Needle Hole Point, overlooking the Krishna Valley down below. Needle Point is the place which has the famous Elephant Shaped Hill Side. Further ahead, one may visit Lake Venaa and Lingmala Falls which are beautiful during monsoons.

List of Adventure Camps At Wai

Rutu Farm: offers a comfortable farm stay at the foothills of Panchgani and is just 4 kms aways from Wai. For tariffs and other details Visit Website

Krishna River Camp: Owned and Manged by Milan Wadkar, a friendly man whose love for nature can be seen in the way he treat nature and travelers alike. Located right along the River Krishna by the alike, the campsite here is everyone’s favorite getaway. Visit Camp Website

Krishna River Camp Located at Wai
Krishna River Camp Located at Wai

I-CAMP: is located Near Balkawadi-Dhom Dam and offers a range of adventure activities. Visit Camp Website

Adventure Activities at I-Camp, Wai
Adventure Activities at I-Camp, Wai

Distance Chart to Reach Wai

By Air: Pune is the nearest Airport

By Road: Wai is situated on the Mahad-Pandharpur State Highway and makes a perfect stop-over on the way to the hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.  There are also a number of strawberry farms where you can hand pick strawberries by the kilo!

  • Pune to Wai: 95 Kms
  • Satara to Wai: 35 Kms
  • Mumbai to Wai: 250 Kms

Take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to Pune and continue on NH 4 towards Surur, take the right turn there, towards Wai, on Mahabaleshwar route leaving NH 4. There are State Transport buses as well as private buses plying to Wai or to Mahabaleshwar via Wai, from all the major cities.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Satara, about 40 kms away from Wai and takes around one hour by road to reach Wai.

Did You Know

The source of River Krishna is located at Mahabaleshwar. As legends go the river Krishna spouted from the mouth of a cow and today an ancient Shiva Temple is located at the place.


To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article click here.

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