This sign is posted outside a hilltop Hindu temple, Parvati, in Pune, India. Our visit to this hilltop temple on India’s Republic Day offered one of the best views of the city we’ve had since arriving here a month ago. Parvata, we learn, is one of the Sanskrit words for “mountain,” and “Parvati” translates into something like “she of the mountains,” a reference to Parvati, daughter of Himvan and lord of the mountains. The actual temple, built by Nanasaheb Peshwa in 1749, is a complex of smaller temples dedicated to Parvati, Vishnu, Karthikeyan and Ganesh. The one hundred and three broad stone steps that lead to the hilltop were a pleasure to climb.
For the past week, Pune has experineced the coldest days of the winter, with the minimum temperatures dropping into the high 40s F. the days have been in the 80s, and the wind has cleared the thick city air. We brought our lunch to the hilltop and, after eating, we walked through the temple of Shri Vishnu and the Kartikeya temple. Kartikeya, or Shadanan, the God with six heads, is the eldest son of Lord Shiva. Kartikeya is, in Maharashtra, believed to be a bachelor God, and his temples are few in Maharashtra.
In the main temple of Shree Devdeshwar ( “Lord of Lords” ), Nathaniel and Ellinore ring the bell and bow in prayer to the idol of Shiva with Parvati on one lap and his son Ganesh on the other. We then walk the upper wall of the temple to take in the panorama of the city. There are slums ringing the base of the hill, children swimming in the canal. We pick out the law college and our neighborhood in the distance.There is palace on the hill, too, built by Shrimant Peshwa in 1795. Today the palace contains the small Peshwa Museum that holds a variety of items from the Peshwa Era, including swords and scabbards, jewelry and coins, and paintings of all Peshwas and Maratha Sardars. We are especially taken by the paintings in the sabha mandap, where there are numerous wall paintings of battles fought by the Maratha warriors. After taking in the temples and view we descend the steps back into the city to catch a rickshaw back to Deccan.