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Pune Parvati Temple – History – Architecture Of Parvati Hill Temple

Parvati Temple is an unforgettable landmark in Pune, Maharashtra. The temple complex of Parvati is located atop the Parvati Hill and the surrounding area and steps which lead up to the temples stands out as a landmark in the skyline of the city. Here is a look at the history and architecture of the Parvati Hill Temple. The temple is around 9 km from Pune Railway Station.


It is believed that the deity ‘Parvati Bhawani’ manifests itself and cures its worshippers of their ailments. Many such accounts are available in history. It is believed, that the mother of Navlogi Tavre Patil was cured of her ailment because of her devotion and worship of the Goddess Parvati Bhavani.

History Of Parvati Temple

There was a widespread belief that Parvati Bhawani help in early cure of diseases. Numerous people found relief after offering prayers to the Goddess. Nanasaheb Peshwa’s mother also had a similar experience. The Peshwa therefore constructed this temple.
The traditional deity of the Peshwa dynasty ‘Shambhu Mahadeo’ or Deveshwar is located in the main temple. At the four corners of this temple are located the smaller temples of Surya, Ganapati, Bhavani Devi and Vishnu. The murti of Goddess Parvati is located in the temple of Goddess Bhavani also known as Ashtabhuja Devi.

The Parvati temple bears a close relationship with the rise and fall of the Peshwas. In 1755 AD, Nanasaheb built his wada (house) on Parvati. Even today, this wada is used for rituals and the preparation of Puja.

Apart from this, Ragobadada built the temple of Kartik Swami. That he amongst all the Peshwas built the temple of general of Devas, Lord Kartikeya, is a reflection of his marital spirit and great pride.

The Vishnu temple was built by Nanasaheb around 1758 AD which completes the entire temple complex.

Looking at Parvati temple from an architectural point of view, it seems that this temple complex has been designed to be viewed from a distance.
Because of its height over the surrounding area this temple complex was also used to keep a watch over the city of Pune and its surrounding area. The last Bajirao Peshwa viewed the progress of the battle with the British at Khadki, from a window in the cloisters of this temple.

The temple complex was established with a view to promote physical fitness, and even today hundreds of people take advantage of the physical exercise by climbing up the big zig zag steps reaching all the way to the top of the temple.

Importance Of Ramana Ganpati – Parvati Hill

The height of Parvati is approximately 90 meters. 108 large and winding steps lead the temple complex. The ‘Ramana Ganapati’ is situated at the foot of Parvati hill. During the reign of the Peshwas a lot of importance and encouragement was given to scholars, and to education as a whole and a large open area was reserved for this purpose near the ‘Ramana Ganapati.’ In the month of August – September, a large congregation of learned scholars from all over India used to assemble here. This was known as ‘Ramana.’ Astrologers, poets, learned men, Veda scholars, philosophers and physicians used to come to Pune and were honored according to their merit.

The complex of Ramana Ganpati consisted of many Dharamshalas. Today, except for the temple nothing survives.

Some Important Structures On The Way To The Top Of Parvati

As we start climbing the steps, we come across the ‘Sati Samadhi’ or a monument of Sati on the 32nd step. On the 75th step we come across the Gymnasium and the place where there used to be an armory of guns. There were cannons here upto 1875  AD. Later on fearing the great freedom fighter Vasudeo Balwant Phadke the British removed them.
Next important stop on the way to the top is the Ghadyalkhana.

Next was a Nagarkhana which was demolished in 1970 by ignorant Hindus. The design and orientation of Nagarkhana was in such a way that the Sun’s rays at Sunrise on March 23 and September 23 (the days when nights and days are of equal duration) used to pass through the windows of Nagarkhana and fall directly on the body of the murti.

The Main Temple On Parvati Hill

The temple of Devadeveshwara, is surrounded by a two storey high octagonal fortification. Balconies project from the second floor. A store room was constructed while laying the foundations of this building. It is believed that a tunnel led from this room to the Shaniwar Wada though no evidence of this has been yet found. The northern side consists of a three storied fortification. The ground floor of this fortification is formed of an arcade. To the east is the Gokha or Gawaksha. It is a terrace like structure with three windows. Music used to be played from this spot at the time of the pooja. In front of this there is a fortified stairway, which leads to the Peshwe Wada. Four staircases lead to the top of the fortification wall.

Sculptures of two dwarpalas done in the Chalukyan style are p laced on both sides of the entrance to the Devadeveshwara temple. These sculptures are place in two chhatris and are made of cement, and these are most incongruous being of a much earlier style. The temple belongs to the 18th century whereas the sculptures are of the 7th century. The arches and original woodwork of the windows are all destroyed due to lack of maintenance.

The new jali, chhatri and other reconstruction done to the existing structures do not match with the architectural style of the age.

The four subsidiary shikharas and the main shikhara of Devadeveshwara are each topped by a beautiful copper kalasha. In 1760 AD, these kalashas were given a coating of 1079 tolas or 1.5kg of gold. At the time of war, the Nizam stole these kalashas and destroyed Parvati. In 1760, Madhavrao Peshwa had these kalashas remade.

Nanasaheb Peshwa installed the silver murti of Lord Shiva which weighed 6337 tolas. The golden idol of Goddess Parvati weighed 1.5 kg and that of Ganapati weighed 0.75 kg. These original idols were stolen in 1932 AD. The original murtis were never recovered. New ones were made. Goddess Parvati sits on the right lap and Ganesha on the left lap of the four-headed murti of Lord Shiva.

Ram Joshi in his ‘powada’ says, ‘Uma and Mahaeshwara are being worshipped. This glittering yellow idols are indeed of gold. Soldiers guard the images in torch light.
A Shivling of black stone stands in the center of the Gabhara. Nanasaheb passed away in 1761 AD in the Peshwa wada on Parvati. The portraits of all the Peshwas, and the Samadhi of Nanasaheb are maintained here.

Next to the Peshwa wada stands the ‘Kartika Swami Temple.’ The murti in this temple were broken many times and were reinstated. The architectural style of the temple is of the post Peshwa period. The Shikhara has upachhatris and a fluted kalasha. The temple is surrounded by a wall.

Vishnu Temple Atop Parvati Hill

After climbing up a slope on the southern side for about 200 meters, we reach the Vishnu temple. Out of the 24 forms of Lord Vishnu, the ‘Madhava’ form standing on Lakshmi Yantra is adopted here.

The murti is about 1.5 meters tall and carved in black stone. When the temple was built the shikhara must have been designed in the meruprushta or Parvataswaroop form of Laxmi yantra. The shikhara is not of the conventional tall tapering form but is different with a stepped pattern. Architects of this time must have sought to establish a relationship between the murti and the shikhara on top. The murti of Lord Vishnu on the Lakshmi Yantra, the Shikhara and the surrounding fortification matches with the style of the rest of the temple and creates a harmonious effect. On the South and the Western sides of the temple are the burnt ruins of wada. The height of the temple is about 25 meters. The shikhara is octagonal in form while the base is rectangular.

The intricate carvings on the shikhara of the Vishnu temple, the designs of vines on the shikhara and upashikharas of the Kartik Swami Temple, the shape of the Devdeveshwar temple, and arrangement of the kalashas show a marked influence of the Rajput, Mughaland Gujarat style of architecture. The science of mantra tantra and mystical prayers were in great vogue during the Peshwa period. An influence of these mystic sciences in the designing of the shikhara of the Vishnu temple is evident.
The temples of the Parvati complex used to be painted in a special Maharashtrian type of coloring and Abasai murals used to be drawn on the walls.

The Parvati temple complex also has a temple of Lord Vitthal though it is not a part of the original complex and has been added much later.

Source – The Temples Of Maharashtra (1989) – Gopal Krishna Kanhere – Published by Maharashtra Information Centre.