It was originally built outside of town but due to the expansion of the city frontiers over the years, it is now situated in the downtown Jungli Maharaj road in Pune. The temple is dedicated to Lord Pataleshwar (God of Underworld) and Lord Shiva. The entire cave temple is below the ground level, making ‘Pataleshwar’ an appropriate name (‘Patal’ is an underground civilization as per Hindu mythology).
Pataleshwar cave temple provides the perfect example of rock cut architecture. The entire temple is hewn out of a single block of stone, and houses gigantic pillars, a shrine of Lord Shiva and a Nandi bull.
The construction of temple is left incomplete, but the original plan was to build something on the lines of elephanta caves.
It is believed that the construction of this temple remained unfinished, may be due to the presence of a defective line, detected at the back region of the sanctum, or due to the political turmoil that resulted in financial loss. Still, the architecture and the elegance of the temple surprise the visitors every time and remind them of how difficult it was then to build such a beautiful monument.
The Pataleshwar cave temple has an exotic arrangement of circular stone at the entrance. The entrance is a sight worth seeing, as it highlights acute sense of geometry of these architects.
The temple also has the seating arrangements for the tourists along with small rooms. Most of the rocks in the cave, dates back to the 700 – 800 AD. One can see few ornate carvings on the black rock, which are simply amazing.
The architecture of the temple cave looks similar to that of the Elephanta caves And Ellora caves. The shrine of Lord Shiva forms the main attraction of the temple. The pillars of the temples are extremely beautiful and unique.
A linga, the symbol of Shiva, is housed in the sanctum, which is a cube-shaped room about 3 to 4 metres high. On each side of the sanctum, two smaller cells are present.
There are a number of massive pillars those add to the grandeur of the temple along with grand statues of Nandi, Sita, Ram, Lakshman, Lakshmi and Ganesh and an oversized shivalingam under a single roof.
There is a museum in the cave temple that is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. In the museum, there is a grain of rice which is believed to have around 5,000 characters inscribed on it.