Tulsibaug’s Ram mandir evokes calm amidst shoppers’ storm
The structure has a conical shape with several figurines of deities and saints on the shikhara (spire), which has a gold plated finial on the top.pune Updated: Jul 14, 2017 13:38 IST
Tulsibaug is located in the middle of bustling Pune city and is hailed as one of the busiest market areas for buying beauty knick-knacks and other kitchen peripherals. Since ancient times, these small courtyard markets have stood the test of time and shown us a glimpse into the history.
Tulsibaug is located near Mandai and according to historians, it was built by Jivajipant Khasgiwale in the 18th century. Tulsibaug, with its array of shops splattered all around and a few heritage temples, is both a commercial, as well a cultural hub.
Located near Mandai in Tulsibaug, the Tulsibaug Ram mandir’s earliest recorded history dates back to the 18th century. According to historians, the statues of Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman were made by Umajibaba Pandharpurkar and were placed in the sanctum of the temple in November 1765.
In 1767, the statues were adorned with ornaments in gold, silver, pearls and diamonds. There are utensil shops on both sides of the temple and the entrance is accessible through a narrow bylane accessed from a small wooden door in a very old non-descript building. The temple has a wooden hall that needs immediate renovation as some of the wooden columns are in a bad state and one can find broken tiles cluttered around the hall; the hall is covered by a corrugated tin roof.
The trust has infact begun restoration and renovation recently. The interiors of the main hall are similar to the old wadas found in old Pune. The structure has a conical shape with several figurines of deities and saints on the shikhara (spire), which has a gold plated finial on the top. The temple wall has murals depicting the various scenes from Lord Rama’s life.
It was named Tulsibaug for the place used to be a flourishing garden filled with the fragrance of basil (tulsi). Today, however, it's a contrast with a stony mosaic of nondescript buildings, shops and a cacophony of horns heard from outside the gates.
The entry to the Ram Mandir which is inside Tulsibaug is through a small gate. A blue frame appears with a clear signpost tacked above – it says, Shree Ram temple, Tulsibaug. Inside the gate is a narrow verandah wrapped in dilapidated structures, revealing broken wooden doors and windows.
The verandah passes through a two storied 'Nagarkhana', which was built by Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa after he won the battle of Kharde. The Nagarkhana is a musical complex, which houses a traditional musical instrument called the Chaughada, played on festive occasions, a tradition carried on since the times of its inception. Below the Nagarkhana is another modestly arched doorway which opens into the spacious compound of the temple.
As soon as you step in, the 150-feet high conical shikara (spire) of the temple stands out for its grandiosity, beauty and the intricately carved figurines of saints and deities.
The original structure of the temple is an ancient one dating back to the 17th century. The temple was constructed by Shrimant Naro Appaji Tulshibaugwale a nobleman in the Peshwa court under the orders of Balaji Baji Rao, the temple is today one of the few that have managed to retain its element from the era of the Peshwas.
The temple has a wooden sabhamandap (congregation hall), essentially an open space supported by withered columns and carved arches, which are now treated . Two columns have been replaced by new teakwood columns. It has an attractive teak ceiling decorated in ornate designs and patterns. The sabhamandap evokes a sense of peace and calm where people sit to meditate and relax.
The garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is a stone enclosure housing deities of Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman in the centre while other deities like Lord Vishnu and Garuda sit beside them. Lord Hanuman sits exactly opposite them, not in the sanctum but in the sabhamandap with folded hands and a gaze fixed at Lord Ram.
There is ample space of circumambulation provided around the mandap area where one gets a glimpse of other smaller temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vithal-Rakhumai, Lord Ganesha, Godess Parvati, and Lord Dattareya.