Tulshibag Ram Temple owner restores structure on his own

Babasaheb Tulshibagwale, the owner of 251-year-old Tulshibag Ram Temple, a Grade I heritage structure, is restoring the temple on his own and is doing it without civic body’s help.

Work in progress: Restoration work underway at the 251-year-old temple. The plot that holds the place of worship is also home to a famous market for brass and copper utensils. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

“We deliberately avoided taking any kind of help from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC),” Babasaheb said. In addition to the temple, the one-acre plot of land also has 30-odd shops that sell brass and copper utensils.

Men at work: Work in progress at Tulshibag Ram Temple. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

A descendant of Peshwa Sardar Naro Appaji Tulshibagwale, Babasaheb has so far spent Rs 50 lakh from the treasury of his own trust, Ramji Devasthan Trust. He also received donations from several philanthropists and history lovers in thecity.

For the future
“This place belongs to my forefathers and I want to keep it intact for the future generations. Unfortunately, the temple and its surrounding has deteriorated and needs restoration. The repairing and cleaning work will not stop until it is completed. So far we have spent Rs 50 lakh on restoration work and same amount might be needed to complete the remaining work,” Babasaheb said.

Only once
The only time Babasaheb approached the PMC was to take permission before he commenced restoration work, as the temple is a heritage structure. Executive Engineer of PMC Heritage Cell Shyam Dhawale said Tulshibag is a privately owned place. “We granted permission to the owner on the condition that he hires a conservation architect who can work as per Archaeological Society of India (ASI) norms and directives. Even we are monitoring the ongoing work,” Dhawle said.  Conservation architects Kiran Kalamdani and his wife Anjali have been carrying out the restoration work at the temple for a year now. 

Work in progress
“So far, we have removed the colour of the temple’s wooden frame to give it a new look by preserving it with linseed oil. The granite flooring has also been repaired. At present, we are working on the huge shikhar (spire) and are planting 15 varieties of tulsi saplings around the temple. Our aim is to restrict the present number of shops, 30, around the temple to preserve the structure’s historical importance and keep the surrounding clean,” Kiran Kalamdani said.

Shubhada Kamlapurkar, a historian and an architect who visits the temple regularly with her students, said the temple was the city’s centre of cultural and religious sentiments. “The place must become a tourist attraction,” she said. 

Did you know?
Nanasaheb Peshwa build the Ram temple under Sardar Naro Appaji’s supervision in 1761. Initially, the temple was surrounded by a flower garden and had massive wooden gates at north and south ends. The temple also has a Nagarkhana (drum room) and the drums are played on religious occasions, especially on Ramnavmi to celebrate Lord Ram’s birthday.

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