The curtains came down on a part of the city’s history, as demolition work began on the 250-year-old historic Vinchurkar Wada five days ago. Buildings at the iconic site, where Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak started the Ganesh Ustav in 1894, were pulled down to make way for a multi-storeyed residential and commercial complex.
After reaching an agreement with the owner and tenants, Paranjape Developers put their bulldozers to work at the Wada located on Kumthekar Road in the heart of the city. With the historic relationship ending, following the flattening, Ganesh Utsav celebrations are expected to be a low-key next year. The Wada will have simple celebrations, as there will not be ample space to erect the pandal. The Wada was also the place where Tilak met Swami Vivekanand in 1915.
The redevelopment of Vinchurkar Wada had become a contentious issue, and was mired in debate since the last three years. Earlier, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between Lokmanya Tilak’s descendant Dr Deepak Tilak and Shashank Paranjape, executive director of Paranjape Constructions Ltd, wherein the developer agreed to allot 2,500 sq-ft to Vinchurkar Wada Sarvajanik Vishwastha Mandal to set up a memorial. Deepak Tilak, however, claims that the space allotted for the purpose is too little.
Ravindra Pathare, treasurer, First Sarvajanik Ganpati Trust, Vinchurkar Wada, said, “We will try to maintain and recreate the true sprit of this place in the new complex. The builder is providing us 2,500 sq- ft of space where the traditional Ganpati will be installed. A light and sound show has also been planned by us in collaboration with the builder next year.”
“We have to put up with some inconvenience, as the construction work is expected to continue for the next couple of years. There would not be any cultural programmes like in the past, and only the Ganpati will be worshiped during the Ganesh Ustav festival.” Meanwhile, Paranjape said, “This may be a good project for the city where we will provide enough space to install the 118-year old Vinchurkar Wada Ganpati. In the ground plus five-storey building, we would also make available an office for the Trust.
We are recreating part of the old Vinchurkar Wada to get the old traditional look of the place, and part of the exhibit will be given to the Trust.” “Though this Wada is a heritage glory of Pune, we have taken approval and all required permissions from the PMC,” Paranjpe added. Sharve Dhongade, member, PMC, Heritage Committee, confirmed that the civic body had given permission to erect a memorial at the new construction site.