Whenever we think of Pune, we are reminded of the city’s glorious history. Located on the banks of the rivers Mula and Mutha, Pune was the seat of power of the Marathas. But it is Pune’s journey from a small village Punewadi to the cultural capital of Maharashtra that is highly impressive.
It was 1630, Pune was still Punewadi, and Shahaji Bhosle was facing turbulent times with his allegiances with the Nizam, when Jijabai Bhosle arrived in Pune, with her son Shivaji. Even as a child, Shivaji was sensitive towards the plight of the Mawlas under Nizamshahi and Adilshahi. It was in Pune that he pledged to build a Swarajya to free his people from the atrocities of the Nizam and Adil Shah.
Sometime after Jijabai and Shivaji moved to Pune, an idol of Lord Ganesha was found near their residence. Considering it as an auspicious sign, Jijabai decided to build a temple around the idol. This temple later came to be known as the Kasba Ganpati Mandir. Kasba Ganpati is also Pune’s Gram Daivat.
Located in the heart of Pune, Kasba Ganpati is one of the oldest temples in Maharashtra. The ten-day Ganpati festival is celebrated with fervour at Kasba Ganpati, with various cultural programmes. Being Pune’s Gram Daivat, the Kasba Ganpati has the privilege of immersing the idol first. Kasba Ganpati’s Visarjan procession is one of the most beautiful processions in the city.
The Kasba Ganpati Mandir leaves you mesmerised with its sheer simplicity. Its stark minimalism and lack of lavishness remind the viewer of the simple and straightforward nature of the people who built it. Built in the style of a Puneri wada, the temple has a very comforting feel to it.
The walls of the small but peaceful temple hall are now adorned with pictures of Ashtavinayak. The main idol in the Garbhagruha is very different from the regular Ganesh idols. The eyes of the idol have been embedded with diamonds and its belly button has been embedded with rubies.
Despite the crowded streets, the temple premises are really peaceful. One gets a sense of oneness with the lord in the peaceful environment.
The simplicity of this temple speaks volumes about the ideals and principles on which Shivaji Maharaj’s Swarajya was built.