Published On : Sat, May 6th, 2017

Exclusive: The Tekdi Ganesha Temple Tree stays!

As per glad news we just heard from Dilip Mase, Director of P.T. Mase and Company, who were asked by temple authorities to explore every avenue to save the tree, they did a lot of brain storming for continuous three days, making and changing plans around the aim of saving the tree.

Finally, just an hour ago, Dilip and his team of Engineers agreed upon the latest design whereby a new temple complex can be built without harming or disturbing the tree.

Three cheers for the vigilantism showed by aware Nagpurians which brought pressure on the temple decision makers which resulted in the life of a grand old tree being saved.

May be, as we wrote, the Vighna Harta Bappa ordained it??!!


Now, that the good news is given, we will rewind and give you the complete unabridged story of how and why things had come to such a pass and the decision made to ‘sacrifice’ the tree.

As, per High Court orders, the Ganesh tekdi Mandir itself had to be felled!

We, at Nagpur Today became involved in the issue when we heard that a 100 years old Peepal (not Banyan as first reported) tree was going to be felled to make way for an ‘expansion’ of the Mandir building.

The Mandir authorities had even begun preparing for the action by doing a Puja of the tree before ‘sacrificing’ it. You can see the red cloth tied to the base of the tree and some dried flowers hanging from it as a result of the puja.

The news was spread widely and suddenly a ‘Jhad Bachao’ mood began getting manifested, which resulted in the halting of the ‘sacrifice’. ( We ourselves find it strange that when hundreds of tree were ‘sacrificed’ for road widening or for Metro we were mute spectators,or were not even aware of which trees were to go, then why did this Peepal tree evoke so much protectiveness? Was it because it was in a Mandir and became more sacrosanct? Or just that we became aware of the ‘gory deed’ before hand?! Whatever was the reason, the protests had some effect).

The effect of the outcry

The news had been flashed 3- 4 days ago. What was the status now, we wanted to find out… so we made our way to the Ganesh Mandir to find out first hand what was happening.

Where is this tree?

As we parked our car inside the temple premises, and went to remove our shoes/ chappals at the designated place, we asked the attendant which ‘tree’ it was? (He needed no explaination!) He pointed to the tree directly in front of the inner gate as we enter the actual temple premises. There is stood, solitary, royal, tall – overlooking the temple complex, but with that sinister cloth died round it! Marked out, as if, for the ‘bloody sacrifice’.

Tree may only be trimmed, we were first told…

We made our way to the temple office where the senior most person present then was ‘Head clerk’ Dilip Chute. When we asked him what the status was he said ” you guys have created such a hue and cry that no action is being planned for at least a week. Otherwise, all permissions had been obtained – including from NMC. Now we hear that it may only be trimmed but you need to speak with the President or the Secretary of the Society that runs the temple to know facts.”

“It’s on High Court orders that we had to plan this” disclosed Secretary, Shri Shriram Bapurao Kulkarni! ( Secretary of ‘The Advisory Society of Ganesha Temple).

” The Nagpur High Court gave us an order in October 2016 to demolish the entire Ganesh temple – and other buildings too – and build new ones. “

This order was given on a PIL filed by a devotee himself, one Shyam Agrawal.

The whole story…

The Ganesha Mandir stands on 0.67 acres of land that actually belongs to the Indian Army but is on lease to the temple. Devotees had been praying to an ancient ‘swayambhu’ (Self manifested) Ganesha idol that had been discovered during the Bhonsle regime at the very spot where it stands now – under a Peepal tree!

After independence, when a temple was sought to be built round the idol, the land was taken on lease from the army.

About 40 years ago, a ‘modern’ temple complex was erected round the diety; the Structural design of the buildings was done by reputed Structural Engineer, P.T. Mhase.

Cement was very scarce in 1975 which resulted in weak buildings!

According to Dilip Mase, there was rationing of cement during the period 1971 – 1974. This was when Antulay was C.M. of the state.

“The Maharashtra Govt. had introduced a cement- like material called Sagol which was supposed to have good binding quality. It used fly ash generated from Thermal Power stations as one key element. Anyway, within 2 -3 decades, all the buildings built using this material started falling apart – including the RSS headquarters. They all had to be pulled down and rebuilt.”

The temple buildings also bore the brunt.

“Whenever it rains, some part of the structure comes down” said Kulkarni.

“For some years now, we are ensuring the temple walls stand by giving them support (teku) and also building supporting towers.

Initially, a brand new temple was planned by the ‘earlier’ Society which had planned an expenditure of Rs. 15 crores. It was going to be a marble temple!”

Many of the temple trustees did not want to spend so lavishly and disagreements ensued. Two groups were formed – Kulkarni group and Lakhichand Dhoble ( old President) group and elections were fought. Kulkarni group won and stayed Dhoble’s plans.

Irked by this, one devotee went to court, and filed a PIL.

“The temple society has enough money in its coffers, but is not willing to spend it to build new temple even though devotees lives are at risk due to old and crumbling structure” he pleaded. “The infighting has resulted in inordinate delays.”

The High court decided in his favour and now it is legally binding on Kulkarni, Secretary, Pundlikrao Janjal, President and their other society members to demolish the old and rebuild the entire temple complex – which now has smaller temples of other deities like Hanuman, Shivji, Bhairavnath and a Goddess too.

Because of this, the stream of devotees making their way to the temple everyday is 2000 to 2500.

On days such as ‘Chaturthi’ the number can go from 15,000 to 20,000 also. The more the people visiting, the greater the risk becomes of an old and unstable building. Plus now there is the High Court directive…

“We understand the sentiments of the people who want the tree to be saved – so we have sent a formal letter to Mase and Company asking for their advise on whether the old building can be demolished and new structure built without felling the tree. We understand that moving is out of question.”

Though there are about a dozen trees in the complex only this one is closest to the main Ganesha temple walls.

“Whatever decision emerges, will be ‘Bappa’s’ . He will indicate what He wants…” Kulkarni had concluded.

Initially we were unable to get Dilip Mase on phone. Turns out he was busy in the temple and tree issue only.

Finally we could speak to him an hour ago when he disclosed that they have finally succeeded in arriving at a plan to save the tree.

“We have had to move the foundation wall of the Ganesha temple by some feet and also move the Bhairavnath temple wall.
Some extra cost is involved but as we were told ‘people’s sentiments are more important’. Religion and worship is after all, all about sentiments!”

We are happy that we have been able to save the tree…

Finally, the red cloth can be unwrapped and another puja held to ‘apologize’ to the tree and all the birds ( mostly parrots) who nest on it and whose habitat was also going to be destroyed.


—Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)