The Maratha Empire under the mighty Peshwas, who ruled from their capital Pune, extended from Tanjore (Thanjavur) in the south to Bengal in the east and Peshawar in the northwest. Even their legacy survives in a lofty manner, gazing down benevolently over their once capital—atop the Parvati hillock, the second highest point in the city, rising 2,100 feet above sea level.
Parvati hill or simply Parvati as the locals call it is a significant historical landmark, doubling as a trekking point and attracting fitness enthusiasts since long. Some 100-odd steps need to be navigated in order to reach the top, with the city shrinking in size with each little step.
But there’s a reward too waiting at the top in the form of a small eatery here which dishes out the local fare—vada pav, bhajjias, kanda pohe, etc. A total of five temples can be found on this hill—the Devdeveshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati, and temples dedicated to Vithal, Rukmini, Vishnu and Kartikeyan.
Upon reaching the top, to the right is the Devdeveshwar Temple—the blackstone temple was built in 1749 by the third Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao. Slightly ahead is the Kartikeyan (Murugan) temple. Chances of listening to Tamil being spoken within the temple precincts are quite great considering that Murugan is a widely revered deity in Tamil Nadu. At other places, circular gaps fitted with iron grills provide a bird’s eye view of the city. The huge frangipani tree at the corner is said to be 250-year-old and was planted to provide fresh flowers for the puja ritual.
Some distance away, the dome of the Vishnu Temple in red, orange and cream colours paints a pretty picture. History enthusiasts will probably make a beeline for the Peshwa Museum here, a simple double-storey structure built in stone. But it’s the treasures inside that captivate—weaponry, coinage, utensils, wooden furniture, modes of transport (palanquin), gifts acquired, etc—laying bare before the visitors.
No visit to Pune can be deemed complete if you don’t see Parvati Hill—the legacy of the once mighty Peshwas.