WAI in Maharashtra is called Dakshin Kashi

  • Why is Wai called Dakshin Kashi? What are similarities between the two? Which temples to see in Wai. What is the historical importance of Wai?

The town of Wai is also referred to as the 'Dakshin-Kashi'. While on a much more modest scale, the town of Wai shares few similarities with Kashi. 


While Kashi is situated on the banks of the mighty Ganga, the town of Wai is located on the infant Krishna River, just a few miles from the origin of the river. Both towns share a bond with their river, Ganga represents the soul of the typical Banarasi; for residents of Wai the Krushnabai (or Krushnamai, as the river is reverentially and warmly referred) is their dear identity. Both the places have wonderful Ghats and temples along the river. Wai like Kashi but on a smaller scale was the center of learning and where the learned resided.


The river originates in Mahableshar. Wai is where she leaves the mountains and enters the plains, and thus the importance of this little village.


Raste, the maternal family of Gopika-bai, wife of Nanasaheb Peshwe were based at Wai. Incidentally Nanasaheb Peshwa had come very close to liberating Kashi. That he ultimately did not due to the request of the local Brahmins is a different matter.  The Rastes build ghats and temples at Wai.  Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi's forefathers came from Wai too from where they moved to Kashi. It is said her mother was from Wai, place called Lakshmi Wada.  Lakshmibai herself was born in the near Assi at Kashi. In the modern era Tarkateertha Laxmanshatri Joshi foremost among scholars in modern Maharashtra had made Wai his 'Karma-bhoomi'.


In 1659  Afzal Khan had marched into the Maratha territory with a view to finish of  Shivaji Maharaj. On the way he destroyed many temples and camped at Wai. Local residents identify the Wada where Afzal Khan he is said to have stayed during this campaign. It is said that a local resident Shendye Shastri sought victory for Shivaji Maharaj by praying to Krushnabai – the Deity representing River Krishna. 

Wada where Afzal Khan is said to have camped. 

After victory of Shivaji Maharaj over Afzal Khan there was a grand celebration in honour of Krushnabai. This celebration since then has become an annual festival of the town in the month of Magh. The festival is celebrated on different days at each of the seven Ghats. Locals from areas close to the Ghats get together to plan and celebrate the festivals at their respective Ghats.


The Ghats built in stone house a large number of temples.


The Dholya Ganpati Temple built by the Rastes in the 18th century is popular for the huge murti of Lord Ganpati. It is 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

Dholya Ganpati Mandir, Wai. 

The Dhundi Vinayak Temple is even much older. Other temples include the magnificent Kashi Vishweshwar temple, Ganga Rameshwar Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple and many more. The spire of the Kashi temple has Kartikeya-surprising since he is not often seen in the region. At the neighboring village of Menavli just 2-3 km away is a Wada and Ghat built by Nana Phadnis.

Deepasthamb at Kashi Vishweshwar Temple.

Kartikeya in Kashi Vishweshwar Temple, surprising for this region.  

A huge Portuguese bell, probably spoils of the war at Vasai between Marathas and Portuguese, is hung in its enclosure.

Bell with Portuguese marking at Menavli.

The town of Wai and nearby places is a favourite for film shoots. Since decades, a large number of films have been shot at Wai. To name a few these include – Goonj Uthi Shehnai from in 1950's to films like 22 June 1897 to Sargam from 1970s to more recent ones like Bol Bacchan, Gangaajal, Pardes. There are dozens more. 


The town retains some of the historical characteristics like the VES or the Entry Gate to the town, old embankments and walls, few surviving wadas and more.

Ganga Ves or Entry Gate at Wai. 

A visit to Wai and nearby places like Dhom, Menavli is a great expereince. That Wai is on the way from Pune to the hill station Mahabaleshwar  making it very accessible. Wai is 95 kms from Pune.


Like all cities and towns in India modernity has set in. Few may rue about the old lost charm, however there is still a lot in store for us to visit and experience.

All pictures by author except Kartikeya one.  


Also read

1. The Many Kashis of India – Memories of a Civilization

2. MTDC blog

3. Close by is Ajinkyatara Fort

4. Close by Dhom Dham Dam


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