Nestled in a suburb known as Baner outside of Pune, India is a hidden centuries-old cave temple. Folklore records the cave as the hiding place of the Pandavas, five legendary brothers who are the central characters of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Historians believe the temple was built in the 8th century during the Rashtrakuta dynasty, although an information panel within the temple premises states that the temple was built sometime during 1200 BC.
The cave temple is tucked along a path that leads to the Tukai Mata Mandir, a white-washed temple dedicated to the goddess “Tukai Mata.” Just past an archway, a trail carved between slanting rock walls leads to the hidden cave.
The cave contains a Shiva Linga, an abstract representation of the Hindu god Shiva as well as a number of victory pillars or hero stones or ‘Virgals’ believed to be around 700 to 800 years old. These pillars are kept behind a glass door for public display. A natural spring gurgles in the cave creating a cool atmosphere within the temple. There’s a real sense of peace and serenity in this ancient temple.
Know Before You Go
From Baner Road, enter the neighborhood of Baner Gaon. Just a short distance inside, there are steps that go up along Baner Hill, leading towards Tukai Devi Temple or Tukai Mata Mandir. On the way, around 20 steps up, Baneshwar Cave Temple is located to the right of the steps.