Kasba Peth Ganpati Mandir enjoys the honour of being the first amongst all the Pune Ganpati mandals, to immerse the Ganpati idol on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. This privilege was accorded to them by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who initiated the public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi as a method for assembling people during the independence movement.
The first Ganpati pandal to be installed in the city was in1892 by one Bhau Rangari at Shalunkarancha bol. The same year others like Sardar Nanasaheb Khasgiwale, Ganpatrao Ghotavdekar followed suit.
Lokmanya Tilak saw the social and political potential in the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and thereby made it into a public festival, whereby all citizens could participate in any of these pandal celebraions. In 1894, Tilak himself made the first public pandal at his Kesariwada. A heirarchy was chalked out regarding the immersion priorities of these Ganesh pandals and Kasba Peth got the honour of being the first to immerse the Ganesh idol. Next in line was Tambdi Jogeshwari, then Guruji Talim, then Tulshibaug and the fifth in line was the Kesariwada.
Till 1925 the Ganesh arti was conducted in the temple confines, but post that period it came to be celebrated in a mandap.
Kasba Peth Mandir was said to have been constructed in 1639 by Jijabai, the mother of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, after the idol was discovered near the house of one Vinayak Thakar. Subsequent rulers contributed towards its maintainance and preservation.
The actual temple lies in the midst of a wada located in Kasba Peth, Pune. The wada has been made mainly from teak wood and is constructed in the Peshwai architectural style.
The columns are similar to the ones in other Peshwai mansions like Vishrambaug wada.
The temple has a sabha mandapa. The interiors are two storeyed with a wooden gallery seen from below.
One has to cross the vestibule to reach the garbhagriha , which houses a beautiful Ganesh idol, adorned with a crown and jewellery and seated on a beautifully engraved silver throne.
The walls of the garbhagriha are made from black stone and support a multicoloured nagara shikhara, adorned with engravings and sculptures.
The entrance to the temple premises is through an huge arch. The temple is located in a crowded residential cum commercial locality. The way to the temple is through the narrow and crowded bylanes of old Pune, known popularly as the Peth area.
Kasba Peth Ganpati Mandir is a legacy to the Pune cultural heritage and one of its famous landmarks.
Text and Photographs (except the ones credited): Abhijit Rajadhyaksha