Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saras Baug Ganpati Temple: A Photo Feature

Saras Baug Ganpati , also known as Talyaatla Ganpati is one of the major landmarks of Pune city. It is situated at the foothills of Parvati.

Pic: View of Parvati temple from Saras Baug

It was constructed at the site of a water stream known as the Ambhil Odha by the Peshwa Nanasaheb in 1750 (immediately after the construction of the Devedeveshwar temple atop Parvati hill). A lake admeasuring 25 acres was excavated at the site with provisions for an island , having an area of 25000 sq.feet, in its midst.

The island was to be converted into an garden, for the recreation of the Peshwas , his courtiers and their families, who could enjoy a boat ride admiring the scenic beauty of the place.

Apparently the work of the site was moving at snail speed. Almost three years had passed and the work was far from nearing completion. When Nanasaheb Peshwa, saw the little progress that had been done, he got down from his elephant and himself joined the labourers in the construction work. The idea was to shame the workers for their lack of alacrity. This had the desired effect and the work got an immediate filip. Nanasaheb Peshwa named the garden as ‘Saras Baug’ or the ‘Crane Garden’.

Pic: Saras Baug Ganpati idol as seen in the wallpaper

In 1784, Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, the grandson of Nanasaheb, had a beautiful Ganesha temple constructed in stone at Sarasbaug. , mural depictng Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa in an animated coversation with Sardar Mahadji Shinde

The lake was said to serve a dual purpose , with secret meetings taking place while boating, between the Peshwas and their courtiers. The oarsmen chosen were either deaf and dumb people or Habshis (Abyssinians), who couldn’t understand the language spoken.

After the decline of the Peshwas, the management of Saras Baug came in the hands of the British East India Company, sometime in 1842, who subsequently handed over its administration to their clerks. The same year, an body of five esteemed persons was formed to manage the temple.
In 1861, the Bombay Government under whose jurisdiction came Pune, handed over the lake (barring Saras Baug) to Pune Municipality.
Since the lake was attracting a lot of mosquitoes, it was decided, that the lake be filled up with gravel and earth.
In 1936/7, a gentleman by the name of R.B.Kondo Mahadev Kumthekar renovated the temple premises, by constructing a mandapa with marble steps. The structure remained intact as late as 1969.
In 1950, the temple administration was handed over to a public trust known as the Devedeveshwar temple trust .
A Pune Municipal Corporation commisioner, Shri.Bhujangrao Kulkarni had a beautifull garden errected at the lake site. Soon there were further renovations from time to time, resulting in what we see today as a beautifull Siddhivinayak (Ganesha) temple with the scenic Saras Baug around it.

Pic: Entry exit point

The temple and the garden, today lies in the Swargate locality of Pune. The premises can be accessed by three main archways.

Pic: Entry exit point

Two of the access points are in the south itself and the third access point is in the east. One has to climb down the stairs of the access ways to reach the garden.

As one walks a few steps, he encouners the steps leading up towards the temple. The temple is made from stone and is painted in red.

One has to cross the mandapa which has an array of pillars on both sides, leading the way to the vestibule. Across the vestibule is the Garbhagriha (Sanctum Santorum) which houses the beautiful marble Ganesha idol.

There is a passageway around the garbha griha for making the ‘pradakshina’ or the ritual circling round, one does with with folded hands.

Above the garbhagriha is the traditional long vertical nagara style cone shaped vimana- shikhara (squire).

Around the temple are the temple offices and a Ganesha museum where various Ganesha idols and artefacts are displayed.

Pic: Pond with a crane statue

Around the temple is a beautiful pond filled with lotus flowers and habitated by acqua life. At one end of the pond, is a statue of a Crane signifying Saras,the name of the garden.

Surrounding the temple structure are vast green lawns and a botanical garden with beautifull flora of different varieties.

There used to be a zoo called the Peshwe park in the immediate proximity of Saras Baug that has since been relocated to Katraj and renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Park. But the garden in Peshwe Park is still retained and is a major attraction, especially for the kinds because of its Toy Train, play ground and an educational display of non conventional energy (Renewable energy park).

Pic:Peshwa Madhavrao I statue at Peshwe park.

Pic:Peshwe park
Pic:Solar cells at Peshwe park
Pic: Toy Train at Peshwe park

After witnessing the beauty and the serenity of the place, one can easily conclude that Saras Baug is justifiably one of the prides of the Punekars.

PHOTOS (besides the ones with the mentioned credits) AND TEXT BY ABHIJIT RAJADHYAKSHA


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