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Friday, November 19, 2010

Parvati Temple, Pune : A Photo Feature

PIC: source.punelifestyle AN OLD PICTURE OF PARVATI HILL 

Parvati temple is constructed on a hill at what used to be the Parvati village. Parvati village finds mention in records dating back to the time of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Chatrapati Shivaji had granted village Parvati in an inam to one Mudgalbhat Purandare, whose descendents inhabit the area (till date).
Today Parvati lies right in the midst of Pune city.
Parvati temple was constructed in 1749 by Nanasaheb Peshwe (I) a.k.a Balaji Bajirao, supposedly at the behest of his mother Kashibai. She had earlier recovered from her ailment, after praying to the Godess of  Parvati Hill.
It then used to be a small temple, but Nanasaheb Peshwe converted it into a much bigger complex. It hosted temples belonging mainly to Lord Shiva the ‘kuldaivat’ (family deity) of the Peshwas, lord Ganesha (God of knowledge and a son of Shiva), Godess Bhavani (an incarnation of Godess Parvati, the consort of Shiva), Lord Vishnu,Lord Surya (Sun God), Lord Kartikeya (the God of War and the eldest son of Shiva), and Lord Vithoba (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Godess Rakhumai (Rukmini an incarnation of Godess Laxmi the consort of Vishnu).
The Shiva temple is built as per the Panchayatana tradition, whereby, besides the main temple of the Kuladaivat , there are four more minor temples of other deities built around in a clockwise pattern ( representing the five elements ). Here the main temple belongs to Lord Shiva , while around it are the four minor temples belonging to Ganesha (housing the idol donated by the Peshwas viz. Sadarecha Ganpati, 'sadarecha' meaning 'the one at the entrance'),Bhavani,Vishnu and Surya.
 The Kartikeya temple and another one for Lord Vishnu were latter additions  and are located in different premises.


The temple is constructed around 2100 feet above sea level. To reach the temple, one has to climb a hundred and three (103), quarried black stone steps, which are long and wide, making the access less steeper and a lot easy.

The temple Shikharas are built in accordance to the Devali - Nagara style which originated in the Maratha-Deccan region. There is a blend of Marathi architecture as seen in the Vithoba Rakhumai temple and the north Indian style as in the older temples (but the Mandapa is as per Marathi traditions), with the façade being made the Rajasthani way as can be seen from the Devedeveshwara temple.


On entering the Parvati temple premises, you are faced with the temple of Vithoba Rakhumai built in Maratha style. The Vithoba Rakhumai temple was constructed as late as 1931, by one gentleman, Shri Ganesh Govind Mudgal.


To the immediate right, there is a way that takes you to the Devedeveshwara Shiva temple. There are two stone images of Dwarpals (Gatekeepers, Jai Vijay as per the scriptures) guarding the temple in typical hindu tradition.


It was said , when Chatrapati Shahu died, his Peshwa Nanasaheb had placed his wooden sandals in the temple in order to worship them , thus proclaiming his devotion for his deceased master.

The original idols of the Gods (Shiva,Parvati and Ganesh) were said to be made of pure Gold. In 1932, these idols were stolen ( speculation was rife that it was in connivance with the British Government authorities). They were later replaced with Brass idols for Parvati and Ganesha and a silver idol for Shiva, by the then trustee of the temple, Rao Bahadur Vaidya. Alongside the statue of Shiva Parvati and Ganesha is a Shivlinga made from a reddish black stone.

The Kalasha of the temple was also said to have been made of gold. When Nizam of Hyderabad , ransacked the temple, he is said to have carried away the gold Kalasha. But Madhavrao I subsequently replaced it in 1768 with all religious rites.
The thread ceremony or 'Munja' ceremony of the Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao was also conducted in these premises by Nana Phadanvis who also acted as the young Peshwas guardian and adviser.


The ramparts of the temple are made in the Rajasthani style, with the main balcony being in the 'meghdambari' style (a umbrella like structure) on the upper floor. From there one gets to see a panoramic view of Pune city.


It is said the Peshwa Bajirao I watched the proceedings of the battle of Kirki from this place. A parapet-aisle adjoining the walls was created to move around the temple.
There was also said to be a Jamdarkhana to the left of the temple, which exists no more. Valuables and weapons were said to have been stored there.
There also exists a Tal ghar or secret basement in the temple, which offered security to the people in case of an attack. It was rumored that there was a secret tunnel there which started from Parvati and ended in Shaniwar wada (palace of the Peshwas).Peshwa Bajirao II is said to have escaped from that tunnel after seeing the maratha army's defeat at the hands of the British. But rumours of a tunnel have been dismissed as baseless by temple authorities from time to time.
Towards the left of the main temple is a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva.


 Just outside the main temple you will see a large stone statue of Nandi maharaj (the Bull which is traditionally Lord Shivas mode of transport).


Towards the left of theVithoba temple you are led towards the temples of Lord Kartikeya and Lord Vishnu , through a beautifully engraved dual arched doorway built in Greco-Roman traditions.
 The Kartikeya (also known as Shadanan, whereas the South Indians know him as Subramanya or Murugan) temple was constructed by Raghunathrao Peshwe, the controversial uncle of the third Peshwa Nanasaheb.
During the attack of the Nizam,the idol was broken so, Peshwa Madhavrao I had it replaced through his minister Nana Phadanvis.
It was replaced again in 1791, after a lightening bolt destroyed the temple(though the idol was spared).
In 1867, the right hand of the idol was damaged in an accident, hence a new idol was again installed in 1869.
As per tradition , the ladies dont worship Lord Kartikeya except in the month of Kartik as he is also considered as the 'bachelors' god.


The old wall surrounding the Kartikeya temple has made way for a new one, excepting at the rear, where the walls still exist as was in the Peshwakaalin days , probably for posterity and testimony to those times.


Next to it is the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
It has a single Vishnu idol (because the idol of his consort Godess Laxmi) couldnt reach the instalation time. Hence the then Peshwa Madhavrao I decided on the installation of a single idol of Vishnu.
 The idol is seated on a Laxmi Yantra.
The Vishnu idol is made from Gandaki Shaligram shila stone (from the river gandaki. It was a gift from the King of Nepal to Peshwa Madhavrao along with a Shaligram stone with a silver encasing placed on a Garuda statue in the sanctum sanctorum along with the Madhav or Vishnu idol) with Lord Vishnu in all its glory with four arms holding four objects viz. Shankha(Conch),Chakra(whirling sharp edged discus weapon),Gada(mace), Padma(lotus) and wearing the garland Vaijayanti. in front of the main vishnu temple is a small minor temple of Garuda Maharaj (Eagle, as is the vehicle of Vishnu).
There is also a black wooden lacquor painted statue of Balkrishna as a crawling toddler.This statue was procured by Trimbakrao Mama Pethe the maternal uncle of the Peshwa during his Karnataka expedition and later presented to the Peshwas.
Also alongside is a Shaligram stone in an intricately carved silver casing , which is placed on a beautifully engraved Garuda seat.
Then there is a grinding stone which was presented to the temple by the Patwardhans of Sangli.


As one comes out of Lord Kartikeyas temple, towards the immediate left is a Tulsivrindavan facing a monument dedicated to Nanasaheb Peshwa. This monument has been constructed on the place where Nanasaheb breathed his last, probably out of shock from the aftermath of the debacle at Panipat and thedeaths of his eldest son Vishwasrao and his cousin Sadashivrao bhau.


This monument hosts the Samadhi of Nanasaheb Peshwa and the room walls are adorned with the portraits of the Peshwa.
There are portraits of Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao I, Nanasaheb,Raghunathrao,Madhavrao , Narayanrao,Sawai Madhavrao, Bajirao II and Nanasaheb II.
There are also portraits of Bajirao I’s valourous brother Chimaji appa and his son Sadashivrao bhau who was martyred at Panipat.
In the same room there is a display of some Peshwakaalin artifacts like sword hilts, perfume bottles, perfume containers made from camel intestines, caskets, vessels,whips, chains,locks, maratha attire, brahmin headwear etc.
There used to be a kitchen where 'naivedya' or offerings to the Gods were prepared. It was a part of the Peshwa mansion which existed then, but has since been renovated and modernised.

To the imediate left of the Vishnu temple, we find a gazebo enclosed in an open garden adorned by trees around its periphery.This also serves as a place for people to exersise amidst fresh air, students to study in its serenity and love birds to kootchie coo in its seclusion.
Then there is the Ramana temple at the foothills of Parvati which presently is a Ganesha temple, but in the past it also served as a place where dakshina / prizes were awarded to the Brahmin community (on basis of their knowledge and stature in society) during the Peshwa times.


Next to the Vithoba temple is the Peshwa museum which was built on the premises of the Peshwa mansion which had originally been built in 1795.
 The entrance has a Ganesh statue errected , made of beautifully carved white marble.
This museum has been specially constructed to display items belonging to the Peshwa era like palanquins,Pachisi board (Chaupat)game, utensils, arms and ammunition (like old matchlock guns, swords,khanjirs,katars,axes,ankush to control elephants and spears), portraits of Peshwas and their commanders, paintings,pictures,idols, sculptures,veergals (hero's stone) jewellery, headwear,armour etc .
These artefacts reflect the life of the Peshwas and their men as it was during those times .

Reference: Historical account of temple of Parvati by V.K.Nulkar, Shri Devadeveshwar Sansthan, Parvati, Pune.
Text & Photographs: Abhijit Rajadhyaksha


  1. पर्वतीची घरबसल्या सफर घडविल्याबद्दल धन्यवाद..!!

  2. Thanks Chetan. Parvati is the pride of Pune. Yet many of Puneites are unaware of its history. Hence this humble attempt on my part to create this awareness of our glorious heritage.

  3. The pleasures mine Latha. If you get to visit Parvati, dont miss out on its sunset. Its spectacular.

  4. please make parvati temples in each and every village
    in each and every town in each and every district
    in each and every location in each and every holy place of
    bharat in each and every city in each and every metro
    in each and every location north south east west central
    stations locations all over bharat

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thank you for sharing Nice information about Parvati Temple.