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Saras Baug Temple

Saras Baug is one of the major landmarks of the city of Pune in Maharashtra. Saras Baug is just a little over a kilometre and a half from Swargate, which is the most important ground transportation station for the city of Pune. It is a scenic park, which consists of a Park, Temple, a small zoo and a museum.

Previously, over 300 years ago, the entire area was submerged under a small lake. Over the time, the lake disappeared and when it finally dried up, the area was developed into the premises we know today. The entire 25 acre (10 Hectare) complex that was developed is now called Saras Baug. There is a Ganesh Temple within the confines of the complex that is called Talyatla Ganpati. This temple is one of the most well known monuments in the city of Pune.

The park itself is a sprawling complex filled with tropical plants and trees with many footpaths. The beautiful hills surrounding the area are clearly visible and make an impressive backdrop for this serene park.

Talyatla Ganpati

The Talyatla Ganpati is also known as the Sarasbaug Ganpati or the Sarasbaug Temple. Within the confines of the temple is housed the famous idol of Shree Siddhivinayak who is the "God who makes wishes true". It has become sacred ground for millions of Hindu Devotees in Pune and around the world. Current figures tell us that on an average, the Talyatla Ganpati receives ten thousand visitors a day.

As can be well imagined, this figures skyrockets upto eighty thousand devotees per day on sacred occasions like Ganesha Chaturthi and other Hindu festivals. Numerous dignitaries from all over the country come to this holy spot every year in order to secure the blessings of Shri Siddhivinayak, hoping to enrich their futures. The fact that people such as Shankaracharya Shree Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, S. D. Sharma, Ex Vice President of India, the great Lata Mangeskar, Hridayanath Mangeskar and Arun Date have visited this temple shows the kind of faith that the deity inspires.

The Saras Baug temple is currently being maintained by Shree Devdeveshwar Sansthan, Parvati and Kothrud. The beautiful temple is a red structure built in the classical style of the golden age of the Maratha Confederacy. It is visually striking due to its high and elegant archways and the large sloping roofs that inspire a sentiment of insignificance in face of the divine powers said to reside within the temple walls.

In the 1800s, very soon after the Shree Devdeveshwar Temple on Parvati hill was completed, the illustrious Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa decided to undertake the great and noble task of beautification of the entire area around Parvati Hills. Among many measures, he decided to develop a lake in the foothills of Parvati Hills. During the construction, an island of an area of about 25,000 sqft or 2,370 m2 was left in the centre of the lake. After some time, a beautiful garden was built on this island. Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa then coined the name we know so well today, “Sarasbaug”.

The construction of the Saras Baug temple was commenced in 1750 under the orders and direction of Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa and Mahadji Shinde of the powerful Maratha confederacy. The construction of the temple was completed in 1784 with an idol of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh placed in the temple. Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa placed the idol of Siddhivinayak Gajanan, which was his primary deity, in the temple.

The temple was very close (within 3 miles or 4800m) to the Parvati Temple on Parvati Hills. The Parvati temple was the primary residence of the leader of the Maratha confederacy- the Peshwa. Due to its location, it was one of the most important temples in the entire confederacy.

Over the last 220 years, several renovations have been done to the temple and the area within which it lies. As a matter of fact, the East India Company of the former British Empire had undertaken a renovation of the temple in 1842.

It has been some time since the last major renovation, which was undertaken in 1969. Mahadev Kumthekar and Anandrao Mane had undertaken it. As part of this renovation, a Zoo called the Peshwe Park was constructed and added to the 25 acres that make up the temple premises. Later however, due to logistical and environmental concerns, beginning in 1999 and ending in 2005, the animals at the Peshwe Park zoo were all transplanted to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park which is located to the South of the city. This garden and Temple have today become one of the primary landmarks of the city of Pune.

In 1995, a small museum was constructed within the temple complex. This museum displays over few hundred idols of the Hindu Deity Lord Ganesha.

Among its many functions, the temple also served as a ground for the military strategy discussions of the Marathas, plotting against the Nizam and the British Empire during the 18th and 19th century. This was because it was away from the Parvati Temple, which was the primary residence of the Peshwa. The Peshwa, along with his commanders and advisors would go to Saras Baug by boat in order to discuss the issue they faced and their plans. It has also been recorded that these boats were steered by various Non-Natives, such as Africans in order to ensure complete secrecy, as they could not understand the language locally spoken (Marathi).

How to Reach

As Saras Baug is just over 1500 m from Swargate, it is very easily accessible. Swargate is the primary node for ground transport in Pune. A person can easily reach Swargate from any part of Pune. From there, it is a simple matter of catching a bus or taking an auto rickshaw to reach Saras Baug. One can even walk.

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