If you are a pilgrimage tourist and a road trip enthusiast too, who also happens to dread the Mumbai traffic, then this might be an opportune time to explore the historically and architecturally condensed parts of your state. And the easiest way to do that is by visiting its temples! Once you get over Alibaug, Mahabaleshwar, Khandala and the likes, you will be able to see Maharashtra beyond the Western Ghats; however, definitely not without it. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Ekvira Devi Temple, Lonavala

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by patternofdhulekar (@pattern_of_dhulekar) on

Visited daily by the Koli fishermen community and the local tribes for whom Goddess Renuka (worshipped here) is the supreme power, the Ekvira Devi Temple is a seat of Buddist culture, traditional folklore, and even dances. Often forgotten in the itinerary for Lonavala, this temple was built by the Pandavas and is at a location where serenity and spirituality meet. However, to reach the temple, you will have to climb 200 stairs. What you witness at the end of the breathless ascent is worth every step. While you’re there, do check out the rock-cut caves of Karla that form an ancient Buddhist complex.

Total distance: 94 km

Duration of the road trip: 2 hours approx.

Best time to visit: Round the year, winter months being most pleasant

Things to keep in mind: The temple is open from 05:00 am to 12:00 pm and 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm

Where to stay: Rhythm Lonavala

Where to stop and eat: Try the vada pav near Bhushi Dam, German Bakery Wunderbar at Lonavala

2. Shri Shantadurga Temple, Goa

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIPEN G Shah | Camerapedia 📸 (@camera_signature_by_dipen) on

Not only does this temple take you back in time with its quaint architecture, but it also stands for a very important social message. Shri Shantadurga Temple located in Quepem embodies the belief that God is one as the deity here is worshipped both by Hindus as well as Christians, who form a major part of Goa’s population. Hence, it is no surprise that its name itself suggests peace and harmony.

Total distance: 610 km

Duration of the road trip: 11 hours 30 minutes approx.

Best time to visit: Mid November to mid-February

Things to keep in mind: Avoid days of celebrations or special events to skip the crowd. The temple is open from 07:00 am to 10:00 pm

Where to stay: Kenilworth Resort and Spa

Where to stop and eat: Manas, Satara

3. Kailash Temple, Aurangabad

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by K r i s (@endlessartlover) on

Hands-down the most popular pilgrimage site on this list, the Kailash Temple of the Ellora Caves, an eighth-century architectural marvel, is a megalithic structure that was made by carving a single boulder of stone. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is known for its ornate ornamentation. Its stone carvings depict Hindu deities, particularly Shiva. Scholars still debate who had the temple built originally.

Total distance: 341 km

Duration of the road trip: 7 hours 21 minutes approx

Best time to visit: June to March

Things to keep in mind: The caves are closed on Monday for cleaning and maintenance. Timings are 09:00 am to 9:30 pm for the rest of the days

Where to stay: Ellora Heritage Resort

Where to stop and eat: Sandeep in Ahmednagar, Bhoj and Yalla Yalla in Aurangabad

4. Chaturshringi Temple, Pune

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mihir Pagnis♒ (@mihirpagnis) on

Built during the time of the Peshwas, the Chaturshringi Temple in Pune is perched atop a hill. One has to climb 170 stairs to reach the shrine of Goddess Chatushringi, considered the presiding Goddess of Pune, besides the eight miniature idols of Ashtavinayaka. Literally translating to ‘mountain with four peaks’ which represents faith and power, there are three smaller temples located on the other hillocks.

Total distance: 144.1 km

Duration of the road trip: 2 hours 30 minutes approx.

Best time to visit: Round the year

Things to keep in mind: You might want to skip Tuesdays and Fridays as these days attract the most number of devotees. The temple is open on all days from 06:00 am to 09:00 pm

Where to stay: Conrad Pune

Where to stop and eat: Malvan Restaurant in Thane, MTDC at Bhandardara, Goodluck Cafe in Pune

5. Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga, Nashik

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @manohara_kadali on

Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao built the Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga during his reign. The temple was dedicated to Kushavarta, the source of the river Godavari. Like multiple temples in the Western Ghats, this one is also surrounded by hills, the Anjaneri Mountain. The temple not only has three lingams of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma but also three water bodies, Bilva Theertha, Viswananthirtha, and Mukundathirtha. The jewelled crown of the temple, believed to be adorning the temple from the time of the Pandavas, is displayed every day between 04:00 pm and 05:00 pm. The temple is one of the 12 auspicious jyotirlingas.

Total distance: 170 km

Duration of the road trip: 3 hours 30 minutes approx.

Best time to visit: October to March

Things to keep in mind: If you are particular about your food, then we suggest you pack some food along as there are few options along the state highways after Thane

Where to stay: The Gateway Hotel Ambad, Nashik

Where to stop and eat: Angel Dosa centre in Thane, Sadhana Restaurant in Nashik

6. Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Goa

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ankita Kolamkar (@ankita.kolamkar) on

Visiting Lakshmi Narayan Temple instils in you a sense of deep peace and calm that only a pilgrim site enveloped in greenery and silence can bring. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple has a freshwater spring filling up its tank. The temple retains its intricate wooden bar carvings from the 18th century which depict Sri Narasimha Purana. You can make a stop at the Mangeshi Temple at Mardol, located only at 2.8 km from Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.

Total distance: 598.6 km

Duration of the road trip: 11 hours 29 minutes approx.

Best time to visit: Round the year

Things to keep in mind: The timings of the temple are 06:30 am to 12:45 pm and 04:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where to stay: Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat

Where to stop and eat: Hotel Abhishek in Chiplun, Parakh Hotel, Kolhapur

Related: #TnlRoadTrips: Here Are Our Top 5 Favourite Culinary Road Trips From Chennai