Last Updated on March 25, 2022 by asoulwindow
About Wai in Maharashtra
I have been to the quaint Wai in Maharashtra, a state in West India. Located in Satara, Wai is popular for its Bollywood film shooting locations, the revered Mahaganapati Mandir, Mandhradevi Kalubai Temple and the beautiful Krishna Ghat.
Did you know that even the world-famous female warrior Rani Laxmibai from Jhansi from Tambe family and wife of Nanasaheb Peshwa from Raste family had their roots in Wai, Maharashtra?
Till date we can see the great Maratha architecture style in the Hindu temples left behind by local rich families of Ranade, Raste and Phadnavis. You can also see places associated with Islamic invader Afzal Khan and the lion-hearted Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Wai.
I had not thought about Wai until I saw the Ashutosh Gowarikar directed movie Swades which was shot in Wai. It compelled me to visit Wai in Maharashtra and I am glad it did. The temple town of Wai in Maharashtra is a silent place with beautiful locations. You can also see past architecture style in the 400 years old wadas which are located here.
The scenic Krishna River which flows in the shadows of the mighty Sahayadri range of mountains make for a grand spectacle which you must not miss. Wai may not be the conventional holiday place around Mumbai and Pune but it is an equally exciting place to visit. It is also a great weekend getaway from Mumbai and Pune. This historical destination is not to be missed. This is the most comprehensive travel guide on Wai in Maharashtra.
Soul Window Facts
Did you know that Swadesh which was also shot in Wai in Maharashtra was also the first Indian movie to be shot inside Nasa in USA?
Located on the banks of the Krishna River, this small dusty town from the Peshwa era grew slowly on me before I knew it.
Thanks to the many Hindu temples and multiple ghats located on the ghats of Krishna River, in the area around Wai in Maharashtra, it was also known as Dakshin Kashi. It was also known as Virat Nagri in the past.
Nomenclature of Wai
Wai was also known as Viratnagari in old days. This detailed travel guide on Wai is based on my personal travel experience. It is the most exhaustive blog on Wai in Maharashtra where I have explained all the aspects of this temple town in great detail.
Abhinav Siingh of A Soul Window has been listed as Top Instagram travel Bloggers in India and Most famous travel blogger in India by reputed brands many times.
Where is Wai Located
Wai in Maharashtra is located in the Satara district in West India. Wai is located very close to the favourite Hills stations of people of Mumbai and Pune, that is, Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.
Top Places to visit in Wai, Maharashtra
Not many know that there are many points of attractions and lesser-known places to see in Wai of Maharashtra. Some of the most popular temples in Wai include Chakreshwar and Kaleshwar temples near Brahmanshahi Ghat and the Ganpati temple on Ganpati Aali.
Below are some of the best places to see in Wai, Maharashtra.
Mandhradevi Kalubai Mandir
The famous Mandhradevi Kalubai temple is a prominent Hindu temple located near Wai. Being 400 years old, it is one of the oldest practising temples of Maharashtra. This temple is devoted to Bhagwan Mandeshwar and Kaleshwari Devi. The idol of Kalubai is adorned with 2 silver masks and silk finery.
Soul Window Tip
Maharashtra and Western Ghats looks ethereal in rains. If possible, plan a trip here in monsoon and enjoy the mind-blowing views of the Sahyadri range of mountains.
The local Gurav family has been appointed as the true hereditary custodian of the temple. It is the family members who take turns to perform the rituals. The masks are carried around the town, much like Rath Yatra of Puri, in a procession led by the members of the Gurav family.
The Mandhradevi Kalubai temple was constructed when Chatapati Shivaji Maharaj was still ruling large swathes of land and Maratha empire was flourishing!
You may have to drive up to here or hire a rickshaw because it is located 20 kilometres away from Wai in Maharashtra. Perched on a hill at a height of 4650 feet or 1417 meters above sea level, it offers sweeping views from the hill where it is located. It is an offbeat destination in Maharashtra near Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.
Overlooking the scenic Purandar Fort, the road to Mandhradevi Kalubai Mandir is lined with shops selling flowers, pooja samagri, incense sticks, dry coconuts or kopra and other religious paraphernalia. You need to take few steps to arrive here.
There is a huge campus on the top that surrounds the main temple. It is very clean, well maintained and dustbins are placed at every few steps. You can even sit back and chill at the clean benches that fill the temple precincts. Shops are present on the top as well so in case you forget to buy anything, worry not! Hindus throng here in large number owing to the miracles and the wish fulfilment that is promised here.
It is located in a place so remote that the closest big hospital is in Satara town and nearest primary health clinic is 6 kilometres away. Shared rickshaws also ply on this route.
How to reach Mandhradevi Kalubai temple
Private car or bike is best way to reach here. After crossing the Wai ghat, you will arrive at the Satara border. Keep going and after few minutes you will reach Mandhradevi Kalubai temple. Ask around, if confused. P.S.: The drive is gorgeous in monsoon!
Mahaganapati Temple or Dholya Ganapati Temple Wai
Wai in Maharashtra is known for its famous Mahaganapati Temple. Constructed by Shri Ganapatrao Bhikaji Raste in the 18th century, in the ancient in Hemādpanti-style architecture, I was in awe of its simple yet elegant architecture.
In the typical Hemādpanti-style architecture fashion, huge stone slabs were used for the construction of the Mahaganapati Temple in Wai Maharashtra. I watched in silence as a wordless father son duo pass by the plain walls, clad in traditional Maharastrian attire; the orange Marathi Pheta (turban), sitting firmly on the head of the father.
A huge red coloured, almost oval shaped idol of Ganesh ji greeted me as I entered the hall of the sacred Dholya Ganpati Mandir. Situated on the banks of the Krishna steam, the idol of Ganesh ji is sculpted from a single dark rock or stone.
It is located next to Ganapati Ghat which is more of a community tank. I saw many women washing their beautifully woven quilts and drying them on the floor even as kids wait for their turn to jump in the water in their birthday suits. This is a top place to visit with family and kids.
Kashi Vishveshwar Nath Mandir
Kashi Vishveshwar Nath Mandir which sounds like the much-revered Jyotirlinga in Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, in my birth city Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is a must visit place in Wai in Maharashtra.
Even the Nandi statue located in this nearby Shiva temple also called as Kashi Vishvesh sanctuary is crafted with the same stone with which the idol of Ganesh ji was built. The Nandi Bull placed here resting in a pillared chamber bereft of walls.
During my visit to Wai, I also noticed dome like structures on the top of both Nandi’s chamber as well as the Kashi Vishveshwar Nathtemple. These domes remind me of Islamic structures I saw in Bada Imambara in Lucknow, also in Uttar Pradesh.
Built in the year 1762 C.E. by Shri Ganapatrao Bhikaji Raste, the fish shape at the back is a popular feature of this temple.
Also located near Ganapati Ghat, it is a beautiful temple, located at a walking distance from the Mahaganapati Temple or the Dholya Ganapati Temple in Wai Maharashtra.
Deepmala or Deepstambh
A Deepmala located within the precincts of Kashi Vishveshwar Nath Mandir of Wai in Maharashtra held me in my tracks. The sheer length of the deftly built tower had me craning my neck. I studied its details as I lose track of time.
I checked with my friends from Mumbai, a Deepmala is also known as Jyoti Stambh, Deep Stambh, Deepmaal or even Kodi Maram (looks different from Maharashtrian version) in Tamil, just in case someone is curious!
On special occasions and Hindu festivals, the Deepmala or light tower looks grand when lit with countless diyas or deepak (mud lamps).
Soul Window Facts
Did you know that even today the Marathi descendants of Indian Freedom Fighter Nana Saheb live in Bithoor near Kanpur in my home state Uttar Pradesh? You can even see a deepmala and Maharastrian culture flourishing in small pockets in the Hindi heartland of India.
Do read my detailed blog on Bithoor near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, also known as the place where Maa Sita retired after leaving Ayodhya. This is also the pious land whereher and Shri Ram’s sons Lav and Kush grew up. Did you also know that Lahore in Pakistan is named after Lav? These are some lesser-known facts!
Krishna Ghat in Menawali, Wai, Mahatrashtra
I next moved to the Krishna Ghat in Menawali which you must have seen in countless Bollywood and Marathi movies. The entire ‘Pal Pal Hai Bhari’ song from Swades was shot right here.
One of my favourite songs, it shows Maa Sita, replying firmly to the asura or the demon King Ravan, whose delusions led to his end by the hands of Shri Ram. It is a song of loyalty, faith, love and victory of, you guessed it, good over evil!
I visited an underground Meneshwar Shiva temple here. Dark and austere, the temple just had a small Shivling on the floor surrounded by spartan walls. The local kids took me here when I asked them what else is there to see in Wai Maharashtra? A temple devoted to Vishnu Bhagwan is also located here.
It was typical during the Peshwa rule to build huge Wada or mansions with temples on the ghats on a water body like river or lake. I noticed that the local people use Menavali ghat to take bath, perform religious rituals, wash their clothes, feed water to the cattle and fill water for daily use. Visiting this quaint ghat is easily the best thing to do in Wai in Maharashtra.
Portuguese Bell of Menavali Ghat
The enthusiastic kids also showed me a tall pillared chabutra or pavilion with no walls. A huge metal bell hung from its ceiling. Turns out its original home was a Portuguese Church in the famous Vasai Fort in Mumbai.
During a battle, the Braveheart Maratha general and a warrior at heart, Chimaji Appa, clashed with the Portuguese invaders and won the custody of the Vasai fort in the year 1739 C.E. It is interesting to know that Chimaji Appa was the brother of the famous Bajirao I.
The weight of this huge bell in Meneshwar temple is 650 kilograms. It is a 5-alloy bell and depicts a bas-relief of Mary carrying the infant Jesus Christ.
Soul Window Thoughts!
I relaxed under the shadow of a tree with wide canopy and silently watched the scenes change frames. A turbaned shepherd herding hundreds of sheep! A woman washing linen! Kids diving in the water. The works!
“Perhaps this is how it must have been hundreds of years ago.” I ruminated as a leaf fell on my head! My friend told me, sotto voce, it is getting late and this is no Mumbai. I ignore. I just want to open a rug and lie down until a carpet of leaves cover me. If only!
The tree of Wai
There is a huge ancient tree in Wai which is as old as the Fadnavis Wada. You must have seen this tree in the Swadesh film where the elders of the village hold Panchayat sessions on the stone platform which is built around this tree. The massive coniform trunk makes this tree stand apart.
Nana Fadnavis Wada
This is another offbeat place to see in Wai. Located on the bank of pristine Krishna River, this old mansion is remarkable for its fading frescos and unique Maharashtrian style architectural style. This is a huge palace or wada which was built by Nana Fadnavis. He was the great Maratha statesman and the regent of Peshwa Madhavrao II in the 18th century C.E.
This old Maharashtrian style wada still belongs to the descendants of Nana Fadnavis.The solid stone steps of the Wada lead to the beautiful ghat on the banks of Krishna River. It is a huge six-quadrangular, perimeter-protected wada.
The “Menavli Daptar” were originally kept in this Wada at Menavli. At present, these rare manuscripts written in the ancient ‘Modi’ script is preserved in the nearby Deccan College of Pune.
You can also see beautiful Marathi paintings from the past here. The themese of the paintings are mainly scenes from the Hindu Epic Mahabharat and Ramayan. One of the paintings here show Sita Mata in Marathi saree and another painting depict Shri Krishna with Gopis.
Here is all you wanted to know about the rich history of Wai in Maharashtra. Do you know about this interesting story from the history of Wai Maharashtra? Not many people, including the locals know the role which the local people of Wai played in providing refuge to the Islamic plunderer Afzal Khan when he launched a campaign against the brave-heart Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Afzal Khan was a small time general who led troops of Bijapur Sultan. Unfortunately, the local people of Wai allowed him to stay at a huge wada known as Banawdikar Wada while Afzal stopped at Wada during the campaign.
The Islamic invader Afzal Khan got so emboldened that he even started his Kutchery or office in Banawdikar Wada. He used to make strategies to capture and kill Shivaji Maharaj right here in Wai. Fortunately, Shiva ji Maharaj was much better than he had thought. Shivaji was finally able to kill Afzal Khan in the battle in Pratapgarh which is located nearby.
This event took place in 17th century C.E. The good news is that you can still visit the historical Banawdikar Wada. It is located in the Raviwar Peth of Wai. You will be pleased to see old fashioned architecture and carvings across this huge mansion. The intricate carvings on the solid wooden main gate of this wada is beautiful.
Also read: Who invaded Martand Temple of Kashmir ?
The temple Town of Wai has a rich history. Located right across the Banawdikar Wada, the Kathavate Wadais another offbeat place to see around Wai. This 400 years old wada or mansion is still standing strong. It is a large mansion which belonged to the Kathavate family. This is one of the most unusual places to see in Wai in Maharashtra.
Deshpande Wada is another secret place no one knows about. Located 200 feet away from the larger Banawdikar Wada, the Deshpande Wada also has great historical significance. Constructed by the disciple of Samarth Ramdas, you must see this place if you are travelling in Wai, Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar area.
You must visit this gorgeous place near Wai. It is a favorite picnic spot of the local people. Dhom Dam is a picturesque dam located in the Wai taluka of Satara district in Maharashtra.
Located just 8 kilometers away from the main town of Wai, it is a must-see place when you are travelling in the triangle of Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar-Wai. It is located 38 kilometres away from Satara. Dhom Dam looks even more beautiful when is it carpeted with greenery during monsoon.
Run by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Dhom Dam was constructed between 1976 and 1982. With a storage capacity of 14 T.M.C, Dhom Dam was one of the biggest civil engineering projects commissioned after India gained independence from British invasion. Dhom dam supplies water for agriculture and industries in the nearby areas such as Wai, Satara, Khandala-Lonavala, Koregaon and Javli. and to supply drinking wate
What is there to do in Wai apart from visiting temples and Wadas? It is a commonly asked question. You can take a free walking tour in the villages of Wai. This is an unusual thing to do in Wai in Maharashtra. You can observe the daily life of Wai and maybe even break a bread with a local.
Some other villages and towns located near Wai Maharashtra include
- Anandpur – Chorachiwadi
- Boriv (0.5 kilometres from Dhom Dam)
- Abhepuri (1.9 kilometres from Dhom Dam)
- Pandewadi (2.5 kilometres from Dhom Dam)
- Varkhadwadi (1.5 kilometres from Dhom Dam)
- Amrutwadi, (Eksar- kilometres from Dhom Dam)
Soul Window Facts
Did you know Dushehra is not celebrated in Baijnath Mandir near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. Also, no gold shops operate near the temple. Do read my blog on mysteries of Baijnath Temple.
Excursions from Wai Maharashtra
Being a great weekend destination from Mumbai and Pune, Wai has several exciting nearby places which I used to visit with friends.
Some of the best sightseeing attractions near Wai are Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. In fact, most people do the Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar and Wai tourist circuit together. This is how I also visited these must-see places in Maharashtra.
Tourist attractions near Wai are
- Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
Forts near Wai Maharashtra
Below are some of the most famous forts in the Satara District from the rule of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
- Chandan Vandan
Treks near Wai
There are many scenic fort treks located in and around Wai. You can trek here with a trek guide and learn about the rich history of Maharashtra. This is the top things to do in Wai in Maharashtra.
Festival of Wai
Mahashivratri and Ganesh Chaturthi are two of the biggest festivals celebrated with much fanfare in Wai.
Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Wai
I had great tasting Vada Pao from one of the shops near the temple. Since Wai is located in rural Maharashtra, you can also find local food such as thalipeeth, thecha, mahadya and zhunka bhakhri. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
Is it safe to visit Wai in Maharashtra?
Yes, as a male Indian traveller with a female company, I found Wai very safe to visit. During my extensive solo travels across India since 2008, I have found Maharastra to be one of the safest places to visit along with Goa, Gujarat and much of South India.
Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Wai
There are many shops that sell pooja samagri outside the temples. However, sadly, there are no tourist souvenirs shops in Wai because it is a very small place. You can still buy local products and small snacks from nearby shops.
ATM in Wai Maharashtra
There are not many ATMs in Wai. It is better to carry some cash from Mumbai and Pune. Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani also has some ATMs.
Photography Tips for Wai
Krishna Ghat in Menavli is picturesque. I had clicked some beautiful pictures here. The lovely doors here also make for a great backdrop for photography. Mandhradevi Kalubai temple is also great for photography. The bird’s eye views from here are worth capturing. The ghats near Mahaganapati Temple or Dholya Ganapati Temple is great for people photography.
Hire local tourist guide in Wai
There are no official tourist guides. However, few local kids offered to show us all the hidden gems of Wai. A local woman also showed us the house where Swadesh movie was shot. It was a locked house and we would have missed it had she not volunteered to show us around.
So, do ask around locals and they will take you to unheard-of places, located away from the crowds. You should pay them for their time, knowledge and service. It adds to the local economy.
Languages spoken in Wai
Marathi is the most spoken and understood language in Wai. Some old people may not understand Hindi or English here, but most locals here do understand Hindi if not English.
Movies shot in Wai Maharashtra
Which movies are shot in Wai in Maharashtra? It is a frequently asked question.
Below are the Hindi movies of Bollywood shot in Wai and near Dhom Dam
- Bol Bachchan
- Zila Ghaziabad
- Bajirao Mastani
- Mangal Pandey
- Sarja (Ajinkya Deo)
- Goonj Uthi Shehnai
- Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hain
Toilet facility in Wai
Clean toilets are available near Mandhradevi Kalubai temple. There are no toilets near the Krishna Ghat.
Entry fee in Wai
Most (All) of the places of interest in Wai, Maharashtra are free to visit. Wai is one of those places where there are many free things to do. Whether it is visiting the temples or sitting lazily by the ghat, you do not have to spend anything. However, I feel you should contribute to the local economy by buying pooja samagri and other local products from the nearby shops.
Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Wai
Wai Maharashtra is one of the most inexpensive and pocket friendly place I have ever visited. I did not spend on anything here except food.
Solo Trip Tips for Wai
It is very easy to visit Wai as a solo traveller. Many solo travellers visit Wai as a biker. You can also take public transport and make a day trip to Wai.
Luxury travel Tips for Wai
There are no luxury facilities available in Wai. The most luxury you can avail is take an air-conditioned car to Wai.
Where to stay in Wai?
There are not many hotels and lodges in Wai. It is a small village with very few accommodation facilities. Since I visited Wai as a day trip from Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, I stayed in these popular hill stations of Maharashtra.
What to wear in Wai?
Light cotton clothes are fine for Wai as it never gets cold here, especially during the day when you are most likely to visit Wai.
Timings of Wai
Most tourist places in Wai are open from dawn to dusk or sunrise to sunset.
Best Time to visit Wai?
Unlike North India and North East India, it doesn’t get too cold in this part of Maharashtra. That said, the months of January and February are still cooler. I visited Wai in the month of April was the weather was pleasant.
Some days in April can be very hot here. The temperature in Wai reaches high level during hot month of May. Do not plan Wai trip in May.
June and July are the months when it rains the most in Wai. It also rains sporadically in August and September. The climate in these months is soothing. In fact, monsoon is my favourite time to visit places of Maharashtra. Wai trip in monsoon is a good idea.
Duration of Visit in Wai
How many days to spend in Wai? What can I do in 1 day in Wai? I was able to visit all the tourist attractions of Wai within a span of few hours because most of the major attractions of Wai are located at walking distance from each other. Many people visit Wai as a secret picnic spot near Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.
What can I do in 2 days in Wai? No one stays for 2 days in Wai. However, you can stay for longer if you want to have an immersive experience and enjoy the rural life of Maharashtra.
Itinerary for Wai
I was easily able to club Wai with the popular hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar even with public transport. It becomes a lot easier to do that in private car.
Local Transport for sightseeing in Wai
Shared and private auto Rickshaws are easily available at all the sightseeing places of Wai.
How to reach Wai
Vacation in these parts of Maharashtra is quite common. Located on the way to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, many tourists miss the offbeat Wai. Wai is a refreshing change from a stereotypical holiday in same old touristy destinations near Mumbai and Pune. Here are all the possible ways to reach Wai in Maharashtra.
I had arrived in Wai via public buses. The Government run state transport buses and private buses to Wai are easily available from Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. It is a low-cost way to travel to Wai.
If you are visiting Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar in a private car, then it becomes a lot easier to take a detour to Wai because it falls between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. Just taking a detour of 3 kilometers while you are on your way to Mahabeleshwar can take you to Wai.
The nearest international airport from Wai is located in Pune, followed by Mumbai.
Wathar Railway station is located only 17 kilometers away from Wai. Palsi Railway station is located 18 kms away from Wai. Other railway stations near Wai are Jarandeshwar, Salpa, Adarki, Lonand, Satara, Nira, Valha and Koregaon (25 kms).
You can also take a direct train to the big town of Satara from where you can take a taxi or bus to Wai.
Distances from Wai
Below are some of the distance from Wai to other nearby tourist places. You can easily include these places in your Wai trip. Many people go here for a quick holiday. The distances are mentioned in ascending order.
Distance between Panchgani and Wai is only 13.6 kilometres and it takes 30 minutes via Wai-Panchgani Road.
Distance between Mahabaleshwar and Wai is only 33 kilometres and it takes 1 hour via Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar Road and Wai-Panchgani Road.
Distance between Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and Wai is only 59 kilometres and it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes via Tapola Road and Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar Road.
Distance between Phaltan and Wai is only 74 kilometres and it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes via Mumbai Pandharpur Road and Pune Pandharpur Road and Khandala Lonand Road.
Distance between Pune and Wai is only 84.5 kilometres and it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes via NH 48.
Distance between Khandala-Lonavala and Wai is only 151 kilometres and it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes via Bengaluru-Mumbai Highway, Mumbai-Pune highway and Mumbai Highway.
Distance between Mumbai and Wai is only 228.7 kilometres and it takes 4 hours via NH 48, Bengaluru-Mumbai Highway, Mumbai-Pune highway and Mumbai Highway.
Distance between Alibagh and Wai is only 225 kilometres and it takes 4 hours and 30 minutes via NH 48, Bengaluru-Mumbai Highway, Mumbai-Pune highway and Mumbai Highway.
Conclusion: Is Wai Maharashtra worth visiting
Here are my final thoughts on Wai as a tourist place. Why visit Wai Maharashtra? Wai is that lesser visited place which is not mentioned in the traditional guide books. Through this information packed travelogue on Wai, I aim to help people travel to more such unexplored places near Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. In a nutshell, Wai is a gem for someone like me who loves to go off the beaten track.
To summarize, places like Krishna Ghat, Mandhradevi Kalubai Mandir, Dholya Ganapati Temple attracts locals in large numbers. However, these must-visit places are still not known to tourists from Mumbai and Pune who visit the popular hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar regularly.
The view from my Soul Window is offbeat!
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