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Shree Ganesh Temple - Sangli

Ganapati Temple.

Of all the objects of interest in Sangli town in point of beauty and magnificence. Ganes temple is of the greatest attraction and draws hundreds of devotees every day. It is said and believed by one and all that the Patvardhan Sardars achieved power and success and ultimate greatness due to the blessings, of this deity. It is the Kuldaivat aof not only the Patvardhans but of at least more than half the population of Sangli. Besides the main temple of Ganes there are four more, but smaller ones, of Suryanarayan, Cintamanesvar, Laksmi-Narayan and Cinta−manesvari, which together with the chief deity forms the Ganapati panchyatan.

The construction work was started by the late Sri Appasahch Patvardhan and was actually completed in about 1844. The blocks of stone employed in the construction were brought from the Jyotiba hills near Kolhapur, a distance of nearly 64.37 to 72.42 km (40 to 45 miles). Those had to be brought on huge platforms which required about fifteen bullocks to pull.

The whole, including the former residence of the Chief, stands in a fairly large quadrangular court. The Chief’s residence is close by and facing the river, on which side there is a wall flanked by two bastions and loopholed for musketry. Sri Cintamanrav Appahaheb Patvardhan built the mandap at a later date. The stone used is of the same type as that employed for the construction of the original temple and the sculptural work and the designs are also befitting the original shrine. It was completed in 1952 and was inaugurated at the hands of Dr. Sarvapalli Radbakrishnan, the then Vice−President of India and the present President.

A huge and massive gate of red sand−stone, recently constructed, leads into the spacious courtyard planted with coconut palms and very many other trees and plants, in the midst of which stands the sacred temple of Ganapati. The gate has grandeur of its own and is the work of skilled architects and artisans of great repute. It is composed of three arch−shaped entrances, each crowned with a gumbos. The central arch is loftier and bigger than the side ones and has superb stone jali lattice work. They are also decorated with many other patterns and carvings. From the threshold of the gate one can have a complete view of the inside of the temple.

A finely decorated lofty door leads into the extensive mandap hall supported on eight highly polished and ornamented pillars. It has. Galleries on two sides having a number of arches formed in between very many pillars, also of polished black stout. Even the ceiling of the mandap bears lovely creeper designs, with a huge chandelier, with innumerable prism, hanging from the centre of the ceiling. In addition to the main entrance there are four more doors, two on either side. On the wall are reproduced sacred hymns from the Bhagvadgita.

The original edifice built by Sri Appiisaheb Patvardhan is on a dais of about 15.24x9.14 meters (50’x 30’) having about 14 pillars also of polished black stone. These pillars form ten arches and arc ornamented suitably. Of the same colour are the tiles thai pave the floor. In the gabhara is placed the white marble idol of Ganapati with Rdhi and Sidhi to the right and left, respectively. All these idols are housed in a small domelike structure also of white marble, which in turn is, installed on a 1.16 meters (3 1/2 ft.) pedestal of black stone. In the background is a mirror which besides reflecting the idols gives an excellent view of the front side of the temple. This part is approached by steps fixed at both the extreme ends. On the sanv platform but outside the gabhara,to the right of the visitor, is a casket of glass containing the chariot of Arjuna. While the chariot is of sandal wood, the images of Arjuna and Krsna are of ivory. It delineates Krsna preaching Bhagvadgita to Arjuna when he refused to right ihe Kauravas on the historic battle−field of Kuruksetra. The gabhara is crowned by a sikhar with a brass spire plated with gold. It bears various designs and carvings and figure−filled niches, In the corners there are smaller replicas of the main sikhar. There is a fine terrace above themandap,

The shrine is an excellent specimen of stone carvings and especially the glass−like polished stone−work evokes admiration. Unrivalled in its finish and magnificence, it has become an object of keen interest for the people visiting Sangli. Though over a century has elapsed since the construction of the original shrine it has not lost its beauty in the slightest degree. In the courtyard on either side there are two fountains, shaped like lotus flowers.

Of the remaining four temples of the pancsyatan, two, viz., Cintamanesvar and Suryanarayan are on the right side, arranged one behind the other, placing one of the fountains mentioned above in the middle. The other two, viz., Laksmi−Narayan and Cintamanesvari are on the left also arranged in the same manner. They are more or less identical replicas of the original edifice of the Ganapati temple and contain white marble idols of the respective gods and goddesses. Behind the temple of Suryannrayan there is the figure of a baby elephant shown to be Trampling a tiger under its feet. It is of black stone.

Ganes Caturthi festival is the most important of all and attracts thousands of persons. The temple enjoys inam grants made by the Patvardhans which continue till the present day. To look after the maintenance of the temple a Ganapati Pancayatan Trust has been created. In the backyard of the Ganes temple court there is a small black stone idol of Kuranesvari. It is housed in a small arch of stone. The goddess is said to fulfill the wishes of her devotees and hence people attach much religious significance to it. People visiting the Ganes temple generally take darsan of this goddess too.

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