Nighoj is an offbeat tourist destination 70 kilometres from Pune, nestled along the western ghats in the state of Maharashtra. The village’s most prominent feature are the naturally occurring craters lined up against the bank of the river Kukadi, the breathtaking potholes are a true wonder of nature and also the main driving force behind tourism in this old world village. Nighoj has a certain air of mystery to it, replete with age old tales of the creation of the infamous potholes. It will leave you feeling intrigued at the might of the powerful Kukadi river that now stands still and instills a sense of solace in everyone who visits. The village hasn't been overly commercialised yet and is a great weekend destination if you want to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life.
Places to Visit
Pot Holes, Kunda
The colony of the lunar crater like potholes are the most fetching tourist attraction in the sleepy old village of Nighoj, they are spread across the gorge along the river Kukadi. The naturally occurring phenomenon is quite a mystery in itself with a number of theories hinting at its origin. The potholes have had a fair number of geologists and scientists come over and evaluate it as well as inquisitive tourists who have tried to decipher the formation of the unique crevices that are plastered across the ravine on the river bed. Scientists have tried to reason that the canyon was formed several years ago during heavy rains when the river water fell from a highland and scoured the ground to give birth to the infamous gorge, while the potholes have been formed due to the repeated abrasion of the canyons by the pebbles carried by the river.
The villagers however have attributed the creation of these peculiar rock formations to Goddess Malaganga, a local deity who has a strong influence over the village and its fellows. Whatever be your choice of reasoning, nothing takes away from the fact that these potholes are completely awe inspiring and a paradigm of the mysterious workings for nature. This place is a great day excursion and perfect for people of all ages and walks of life.
The Malaganga Temple is a prime tourist spot in the quiet village of Nighoj, and the villagers are staunch believers of the goddess. The temple devoted to Goddess Malaganga; an Avatar of Goddess Parvati is set along the banks of the Kukadi river and hasn't been very commercialised yet, retaining its rustic charm and beauty. The backdrop of the Kukadi river provides a divine sense of calm and solace to all the devotees who visit here to seek blessings and prosperity from the goddess. Locals believe that the goddess is also responsible for the creation of the infamous potholes that are native to Nighoj.
Barav is an ancient stepwell from the medieval period constructed near the Malaganga Temple. The step well has a Hemadpanti style of architecture, built under the reign of the Yadav dynasty. The stepwell is said to be quite miraculous in itself, village folklore says that every year on a particular day an earthen pot rises to the surface of the stepwell. All the villagers flock to the Barav on Janmashtami to witness the supremacy of Goddess Malaganga in this miraculous phenomenon.
Ranjangaon Mahaganpati Temple
The Ranjangaon Mahaganpati Temple is a part of the Ashtavinayak Ganpati, 26 kilometres from Nighoj temples spread across Maharashtra and is an important centre of pilgrimage for Hindus. The temple is believed to be originally built around the 10th century by the Peshwa clan and later renovated by Sardar Kibe of Indore. The Ganesha idol at the temple is referred to as Mahotkata, has 10 trunks and 20 hands and is quite unique in comparison to the conventional Ganesha idols. The idol is accompanied on both sides by sculptures of Riddhi and Siddhi.
Wadgaon Daryabai Temple
Wadgaon Daryabai is 22 kilometres from Nighoj and is a cave temple in Wadgaon village, the temple is famous for its natural stalactite formations and can be reached by going down a stone stairway. The temple is dark on the inside and has water dripping from the stalactite formations that hang from the limestone ceilings of the temple, the stalactites are called Lavan Kandya in the local dialect.
The area near the temple has a huge population of wild monkeys, so don't carry any loose eatables and mind your belongings.
Takali Dhokeshwar Shiva Temple
The Takali village is 30 kilometres from Nighoj and the Dhokeshwar cave temple is about 3 kilometres from the village embedded into a hillock. The temple was built during the 5th century and can be reached via a stone stairway that leads you to the top of the hill. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva, worshipped at the temple in the form of a Shivaling. The temple also has shrines of Lord Ganesha, Goddess Laxmi and Lord Bhairava made up of black stone.
Morachi Chincholi is an untouched village and nature retreat 40 kilometres away from Nighoj. The village is most known for being home to a huge peacock population and tamarind trees spread across the village. The peacocks are a very common sight in this countryside and are a big hit with the tourist, the ambience at this village is very calm and serene. The village has remained unperturbed over the years and has held on to the simpler times of years bygone, it is a great place for you to experience the village life first hand. The place also has white peafowls that can be seen on the fields, the best time to catch a glimpse would be early morning or early evening.
The place also has a myriad of fun activities you can partake in like bullock cart rides, tractor rides, camping, outdoor games, the place also has a children's play park, nursery and a small petting zoo. This can be a great option for a family gettogether, away from the hectic cities; enveloped in the arms of mother nature.
It is believed that every year during Janmashtami; at the stroke of midnight, a clay pot comes to surface in the Barav; the stepwell. The pot is removed and showcased at the Malaganga Temple for devotees to seek blessings from, there is also a procession carried out with the pot. After the completion of the three-day period, the pot is immersed into the well again so that it can resurface again the following year. The villagers credit this recurring instance to the Malaganga goddess and consider it to be a form of her blessing.The village sees large crowds of devotees who come to witness this miraculous phenomenon that occurs every year.
There are several dhabas along NH 22 that serve Indian cuisine and the local Maharashtrian delicacies. The village also has small snack corners that serve piping hot Vada Pavs and vegetable fritters.
Nighoj is home to one of the most astonishing geological wonders in the recent times that has caught the fancy of many a visitors from around the world. The tiny village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra has elicited various theories about the mysterious occurrences that take place in the village from people all around the world. The village also has a very rustic charm and is not that popular yet, hence is a great option if you are looking for a place away from the crowds.
Photos of Nighoj
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The most favourable time to visit would be during winters and summers from the months of October to April, the summers are on the hotter side but the potholes have a better scope of exploration during these times. The rainy season is not that great, the water level in the river Kukadi rises and covers up the ravine and the potholes, so they can be avoided.
How To Reach Nighoj
The closest airport and railway station are at Pune around 70 kilometres away, you can take a cab or bus from Pune up to Nighoj. You can also avail taxis and buses from Koregaon and Ambale if you are travelling from nearby areas.