The architect working to restore the seven-century old Nageshwar Temple in Somwar Peth has said that the process will go on for at least a year.
Among the city’s thousand-odd dilapidated historical structures, the Shiva temple holds a high cultural and religious significance. It was redeveloped in the Peshwa period and even finds a mention in Saint Namdev’s literature.
A visit here was once considered as purifying as a visit to Kashi, the famous site of Hindu pilgrimage in Uttar Pradesh.
The government decided to restore it after its poor condition was noted.
When the Pune Municipal Corporation announced a list of 254 private and public properties for preservation and restoration, the temple was marked as a top priority. The state ISI acknowledged the history of the temple and declared it a protected monument but its condition had deteriorated greatly.
To inform people about the process of renovation, Janwani, a social initiative of MCCIA, organised a session by architect Shirish Kembhavi, who has been working on the project for the past one and a half years.
Kembhavi, who operates in association with Pune Municipal Corporation Heritage Cell members, cited many challenges faced by the team while restoring the temple to its old glory.
“The main shrine is of a typical Yadava structure with a stone roof, while the sabhamandap has been built in the Peshwa period by moneylender Aba Sheulkar. A continuous action of weather on the building fabric had led to a biological, chemical and physical alteration of the temple. Many incongruous installations like electric wiring and metal stands had spoiled the sight. Apart from that, the excessive vegetation growth and penetration of roots in the structure had posed a significant threat to the building,” Kembhavi said.
The process of restoration, according to Kembhavi, requires bringing the structure to its original form.
But till now, under the name of restoration, many unsuitable changes were made in the building like installation of shahbad floor, colouring the wall with oil paints and so on.
The restoration process is scheduled to go on at least for a year before the temple is opened for the public once again. The material being used for the structure includes limestone, teak wood and bricks.
Said Kembhavi, “The raw material is not being used as it is. A lot of efforts are being taken to match it with the original material. For example, the bricks used in the building are thinner than the bricks that are available today. We are reducing the breadth manually. The walls and stones are being coated with a chemical that would preserve them for years to come.”
The expenditure for the project was estimated to be two crore rupees earlier, but it was later increased due to hidden damages that came to his notice after a thorough ultrasonic defect mapping.
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