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Ganeshkhind: Heritage Conservation Project

The work started with first documenting the existing situation followed by a brief proposal to set out the direction of the work. Undoing the recent layers of enamel paint from timber surfaces, cement paint on stone surfaces and removing all those accretions from the older surfaces of the temple was a slow and laborious process that went on for at least three months. A new technique of fine sand blasting where a controlled spray of finely ground garnet stone powder is forced on the surface with the help of compressed air was used to remove paint without damaging original surfaces. The same process, earlier would have involved chipping away with light hammers and chisels or blowing a flame through a blow torch.

The timber columns of the mandap that were showing signs of decay at the lower ends were partially replaced with good seasoned teakwood and stone chairs to arrest any further decay. Brick walls built around the timber mandap and as fillers in stone arches of the stone mandap were removed and replaced with teak wood railings designed to harmonize with the architecture. The problematic joint between the timber and the stone mandap was treated with lead flashings 2mm thick. This is because lead is an extremely malleable and highly lasting material for at least 200 years.

During this conservation and restoration project, new techniques and its economics were explored such as the craft related to re use of traditional materials like lime mortar, teak wood and basalt stone. The stone masons replaced some of the weathered basalt stones from the outer surfaces of the temple with similar material dressed to the same size, texture and fitted the stones in lime mortar which was a scientifically prepared hydraulic lime mortar. A new doorway was rebuilt as the older one was in a poor shape. All electrical wiring was re-laid using teak wood casings in place of the plastic conduits and casings. The historic well is covered and is inside a hall built by the temple trustees where there could have once been an open yard to the north of the mandap.

“The debates in the city and the country are gearing up with regards to the economics of conservation of historic and cultural property. This project is an example of how the financial support provided by a construction company is utilised not only for the conservation process but also to train and build capacity among company’s staff to carry out conservation work in future.”

Kiran Kalamdani

Partner, Architect & Conservation Expert at Kimaya

The timber mandap was probably constructed from the donations during Peshwa period, as it was common to build mandaps in the teakwood at that time. We see similar works undertaken during the period in several other temples like the Kasba, Jogeshwari, Gundacha Ganapati and Belbag in Maharashtra. The references are found in the two copper plates found during the repairs in the timber mandap where it joins the stone structure. The first is a 4” x 6” plate in Marathi and English dated 1885 May, by one Mahadeo Wasudeo Barve of Ratnagiri, Nevre Taluka, who repaired the Mandap. Soon afterwards another plate dated Oct 1899 is found that is in Marathi in the name of Martand Bapuji Jejurkar.

There was a time when the lonely temple was a small place away from the city of Pune. As the urban sprawl caught up with the temple modern buildings were built around it. The deepmals (light towers)that were built across the temple were claimed by adjoining property holders and other smaller parts of the temple that were once a part of the complete experience are now fragmented into zealously contested terrains.

It is now imminent that all the references be properly documented and also to treat the premises as a historic document in itself where no changes to its form and content are to be made to ensure long term protection of the structure. Regular maintenance of the timber work by applying linseed oil, repairs to the pointing of the stone masonry in the original style and material of lime and the use of lime based paints in the painting of the shikhar should form a part of the maintenance manual for the premises.

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