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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Ganeshotsav in Pune: Hanging pandals to keep streets free of congestion

In the city’s peth areas, the traditional Ganpati-mandal hotbed, with an aim to ease the impact of stages and decor on traffic, “hanging mandaps” for the 10-day festival are the piece de resistance this year.

pune Updated: Aug 31, 2019 14:31 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
The 128-year-old mandal is environmentally conscious and their idol, a replica of the Bhau Rangari Ganpati, is made of crushed bamboo, papier mache and shadu (clay).
The 128-year-old mandal is environmentally conscious and their idol, a replica of the Bhau Rangari Ganpati, is made of crushed bamboo, papier mache and shadu (clay). ( Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
         

This Ganesh festival, mandal watchers treading the streets and bylanes of Pune will do well to keep an eye on the skies.

In the city’s peth areas, the traditional Ganpati-mandal hotbed, with an aim to ease the impact of stages and decor on traffic, “hanging mandaps” for the 10-day festival are the piece de resistance this year.

Mandal organisers call it “Kamaniche mandaps” (mandaps in the sky).

What some of them have done is construct the entire mandap at a raised level, off the ground so traffic at ground-level is not interfered with.

The concept in and of itself is not new to Pune. Chhatrapati Rajaram Mandal introduced the “raised mandal” 10 years ago.

The 128-year-old mandal is environmentally conscious and their idol, a replica of the Bhau Rangari Ganpati, is made of crushed bamboo, papier mache and shadu (clay).

“Our mandal was allotted space on the road, but if we were to follow the rules of leaving 25 per cent of the road free for traffic then our pandal would have to be put diagonally, which would create more traffic jams. So, we wrote to the police and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), seeking permission to build “up”. Now our mandap is built in a way which does not hamper traffic,” says Yuvraj Nimbalkar, president, Chhatrapati Rajaram Mandal.

The mandap this year is 12 feet x 90 feet, with a width of 64 feet and height from ground to the top of the mandap, 81 feet.

The entire structure is suspended with the help of 3,000 wooden planks.

Nimbalkar got the idea when he visited sets erected by Balaji Telefilms in Mumbai. “These planks create a solid RCC-kind of structure and I also do a structural audit so that it is completely safe,” says Nimbalkar

Cost of the construction? Rs 16 lakh. And these planks are reusable.

At the Nimbalkar (no connection to Yuvraj Nimbalkar) Talim Ganpati Mandal, which is celebrating their centenary, the mandal has created a tunnel from their one-way street to the busy Bajirao Road.

“This chowk is one of the busiest, like a junction where vehicles come from three roads: Laxmi road, Khunya Maruti Temple road and Bajirao road. Earlier, our mandap was erected diagonally, thus eating into the road width, but this year we decided to take the mandap upwards to avoid traffic congestion. With the idea of creating a replica of the Balaji temple, it gave us the perfect opportunity to move it in the upward direction,” says Ganesh Buchade, vice-president of the Nimbalkar Talim Ganesh Mandal. This mandal has contracted the work to Deepak Date of Date Mandap contractors who have experience building pandals without digging holes in the road.

“We have used 60 scaffoldings, iron roads and plywood to create a strong structure and everything is reusable, hence, nothing used for decoration will go waste,” says Date, proprietor of Date Mandap.

The structure is 40 x 24 metres and 12 feet above the ground, so that emergency vehicles like ambulances can pass under without a hitch.

Nagnath Par Ganpati Trust began this concept of a “hanging mandap” four years ago. In their 127th year, this Ganpati mandal was allotted a 22 x 18 metre mandap which ate up most of their road.

“We were looking at alternatives to avoid traffic blockages and also allow for regular traffic flow, thus getting Kalatkar Mandapwale to help. They built it at a height showing one of Shivaji Maharaj’s forts as a replica, using 40 scaffolding and iron angles to hold it in its place. Though going up is expensive too, it is worth the money when you think of traffic in the area,” says Mangesh Dalimkar, president of Nagnath Par Ganpati Trust.

Each of the mandals has built special staircases with barricades on both sides. At any given time, only 25 to 30 people will be allowed to go up. Bodyguards and volunteers who help people climb up and down the stairs. There are two separate stairs for coming up and going down plus an additional VIP staircase used in case of emergency.

Most of the mandals have maintained the height at 12 feet above ground and even carried out structural audit. The Mahalaxmi temple designed by Rajaram Mandal goes up to 81 feet.

According to Sunil More, the designer, the challenge is to set up a sturdy platform that can carry the weight of at least 1,000 people at a given time. The mandap contractors were asked to build a sturdy frame. Most of the designs are built using fibre and wood, hence it is lighter and fitted on iron stands.

The roads where mandals have set up elevated sets are Nagnathpar, part of Sadashiv peth and the road is named Nagnath par, Nimbalkar Talim is main chowk in Sadashiv Peth running parallel to Laxmi road and Chhatrapati Rajaram Ganpati trust is situated on Sadashiv peth near Peru Gate. Navjeet Tarun Mandal in Narayan peth is setting up the pandal for the first time. It does not carry decoration, but has kept openings for underpass vehicle movement.

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First Published: Aug 31, 2019 01:22 IST

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