Wai has long been a cultural center. Locally prominent families built several architecturally significant temples in Wai. A few kilometers from Wai on a hill 4,650 feet above sea level is the temple of Mandhradevi Kalubai, which is more than 400 years old. In more recent times, some 300 Bollywood and Marathi movies have been filmed in Wai.
Wai has the epithetic name "Dakshin Kashi" (City of Temples) because of the city's more than 100 temples. Wai is known in Maharashtra for its ghats on the banks of the Krishna River and its temples, especially the Dholya Ganapati temple on Ganapati Ghat.
Dhom Dam, west of Wai, was completed in 1982. Waters held by Dhom and Balakwadi dams, west of Wai taluka, surround the region's remaining small villages. Most residents of small villages moved elsewhere when dams were built. Dhom, Tasgaon, Aasgaon, Wyahli, Dhawli, Dahyat, Jor, Golewadi, Golegaon and Ulumb are major villages which were moved or lost because of the construction of man-made lakes. Nearly 16 km from Wai is the village of Borgoan, in middle of Dhom dam and Balkawdi dam, with four waterfalls. Borgoan's residents drink water from the falls year round.
Boundaries of Wai taluka: East of Wai are talukas of Khandala and Koregaon. To the west lies the taluka of Mahabaleshwar. The northern border abuts the Pune district. The north-west border is shared with the Raigad district. South of Wai are talukas of Jawali and Satara. A taluka is an Indian sub-district—smaller than a district and larger than a village.
Headquarters of Wai taluka is the city of Wai, populated by about 25,000 people. Wai is 35 km. from Satara, 95 km. from Pune, 250 km. from Mumbai. Situated on the Mahad-Pandharpur State Highway, Wai is a major city on the way to the hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.
Wai taluka has seven ghats on the Krishna's banks: Gangapuri, Madhi Aali, Ganpati Aali, Dharmapuri, Brahmanshahi, Ramdoh Aali and Bhimkund Aali.
According to a 2001 census in India, Wai had a population of 31,090. Males were 51% of the population; females, 49%. Literacy in Wai was 77%, (higher than India's national average of 59.5%). Male literacy was 81%; female literacy, 73%. As of 2001, 11% of Wai's population was under age 6.
The prominent Pradnya Path Shala (Devanagari: प्राज्ञ पाठशाला) educational institution is based in Wai.
Wai is well known for Tarkateertha Lakshman Shastri Joshi, founder of MarāthiVishwakosh (Devanagari: विश्वकोश), an encyclopedia in the Marāthi language. Funded by the government of Maharashtra, the project began in 1960 and the first volumes were published in 1976. The encyclopedia is now available online free of charge.
Krishnabai Utsav is the main festival in Wai. When warlord Afzal Khan set out from Wai to attempt to defeat Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Shendye Shāstri of Wai prayed to the Krishna River for Shivaji's victory, sparking the Krishnabai festival. It is celebrated on each ghat for four to eight days. The festival is also celebrated in the nearby town of Karad.
A 105-year-old Govardhan Sanstha (Goshala) celebrates Shri Krishna Janma Ashtami (Gokul Ashtami). The two-day Jatra festival attracts people from all over Maharashtra. The annual fairs, Yatras/Jatras, began with the Yatra of Mahalaxmi of Bhuinj, Jamb, Kikli and Belmachi on Dassraa. There are famous Yatras in the Wai taluka that is Mandhardevi, Bagad of Bavdhan, Kavathe, Kalambhe and Surur.
Temples built in the Wai area tend to be built in Hemādpanti-style architecture. Use of huge stone slabs is the major characteristic of Hemādpanti architecture.
Four temples are near Brahmanshahi ghat: Chakreshwar, Chimneshwar, Kaunteshwar/Harihareshwar and Kaleshwar. Govardhan Sanstha ghat has Krishna Mandir. Near Brhmanshahi there are Vitthal and Ganpati temples. Ramdoh ghat has Rameshwar temple, Ramkund and Chilavali Devi temple. Gangapuri ghat has Lord Shiva, Dwarka, Bahiroba, Dattatray Temple. Ganpati Aali ghat has Ganpati and Kashi Vishveshvar temples. In Dharma Puri are Lord Vishnu temple and Mahalaxmi temple. Rokdoba temple (maruti) is built by Ramdas Swami. Dholya Ganpati temple is one of Maharashtra's prime temples. The large idol of Lord Ganesh is on Krishna River's ghats.
Wai Caves: nine Buddhist caves, situated at Lohare, 7 km north of Wai. The Chaitya hall contains stupa artifacts and has been converted into a Shiva temple.
Dholya Ganpati Mandir: This temple was built by Raste in the 18th century beside the Krishna River. Wai is the first holy place of pilgrims on Krishna.
Kashi Vishweshwar Mandir: Ancient temple of Lord Shiva. The main feature of this temple is the nandi, made by the same stone from which the idol of Mahaganapati was made. This Nandi was decorated by garlands and other jewelry. There is also a beautiful stone pendol.
Krishna Ghat: Site of many Hindu temples.
Dhundi Vinayak Ganpati Mandir: 11th century temple of Ganpati.
Bhiravnath Mandir Kikali: via Bhuinj and Chandan Vandan Fort. This temple is tremendous example of the ancient Vastushastra. Situated in the village Kikali, near Bhuinj at about 15 km from Wai.
Wakeshwar: This is the "Hemadpanthi" type temple of Lord Shiva, in Bavdhan village on the Krishna River.
Bhadreshwar: The temple of Mahadev Bhadreshwar in the Krishna River on Wai-Surur Road.
Sonjai: Temple of Goddess Sonjai and Kaleshwari on the hills of Sonjai in the village of Bavdhan. Hills on the main stream of the Sahyadries are about 2,000 feet tall.
Mandhardevi: Temple of Goddess Kalubai on the plateau of Mandhardevi, which is as high as Tableland of Pachgani.
Pandavgad: North side of Wai via Shelarwadi, known for pandava-caves, pandava's footprint of Bhim.
Lohare Palpeshwar Caves: It is 5 km north of Wai and 39 km from Satara. Known for its art. This is cave of God Shiv. This cave is an example of the anacient Vastushastra. Situated in the village Lohare, near Wai.
Kamalgad: It is 10 miles (16 km) west of Wai and 32 km from Satara. This fort sits in the middle of Dhom Dam.*Paga Talim: Afzal Khan kept his horses here when came to Wai. Locals also gave him key information about the Mahabaleshwar forest and surroundings.
Menawali: Birthplace of Nana Phadanvis, Peshwai administrator. The famous Palace of Nana is in the menawali.
Laxmibai Wada in Bavdhan: Birthplace of the Queen of Jhansi Rani Laxmibai's mother. Large palace in the Village Bavdhan. Also there are caves in the hill of PachiDeval, dug by the Pandavas during their Vanvaas.
Govardhan Sanstha (Goshala): This research institute, some 110 years old, launched a pioneer model project of electricity generation from cow dung. Institute's motto: not only is cow is sacred, she is useful in all aspects.
Dhom and Dhom Balakwadi dams: Dhom Dam is situated on the Krishna and Kamandalu rivers, with capacity of 14 T.M.C. Balakwadi Dam on the Krishna is 19 km from Wai. Capacity is 4.08 TMC.
Wind-power mill in Surur: Recent project in Shambhu Mahadev mountain range.
late Kisan Mahadev Veer, Freedom fighter, follower of Mahatma Gandhi, an aide of Krantisinh Nana Patil, played significant role in Patri Sarkar, worked in Satyashodhak Chalaval. He was member of legislative assembly for the Wai Constitution. Founder of Janata Shikshan Sanstha private college—Kisan Veer Mahavidhylay (Wai). He founded Kisan Veer Sugar Factory (Bhuinj) to aid Wai farmers. He received awards for social work. Wai's main chowk (marketplace) was named for him.
late Shankarrao Jejurikar, Freedom fighter, follower of Mahatma Gandhiji. He was also participated in Patrisarkar of Nana Patil. He was strong believer of equality and has followed Bhai Dharma, due to inequality culture of Hindu (Vaidik) Dharma. Maharashtra government gave him the Dalist Mitra award for his social work.
late Rana Chavan, freedom fighter, author of several books. He was impressed by Sant Tukaram Maharaj poems, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule's books, such as Shetakaryancha. He was strong follower of Maharshi Vithal Ramji Shinde and good friend of Lakshman Shiastri Joshi. Maharashtra government has published his editorials as books, including "Parivartnachi Kshiteje", "Ra Na Chavan Samgra Vangmay" and others. Maharashtra has awarded Padm Bhushan, Dalit Mitra.
late B.G. Shirke, born August 1, 1918 in a village of Pasarni near Wai, a small town in Satara District of old Bombay Presidency. His father was Govindrao Sadashiv Shirke. He belonged to the Shirke clan, famous in Maratta history from the end of the 15th century. Chhatrapati Shivaji's wife Soyrabai, whom he married in 1650, belonged to the Shirke clan. B.G. Shirke's mother came from the historic Mohite family in Sarkalwadi, a small hamlet in Koregaon Taluka. After completing primary education at Pasarni village and secondary education at Wai, B.G. Shirke went to Fergusson College in Pune in June 1936 for his college education. After passing the inter-science examination in March 1939, he joined Pune Engineering College in June 1939. This college produced outstanding engineers including Bharatratna Sir M. Vishweshwaryya, Dewan Bahadur Godbole and Dewan Bahadur Vartak. He passed his civil engineering degree in June 1943. He awarded education scholarships to poor students in Khandala and Wai talukas.