The entrance of the main temple of Shree Devdeshwar ( meaning “Lord of Lords” ) is majestic. On the two sides of the entrance are the two Bhairavas–the demi-gods to represent the door attendants.They are made of blackstone and have been installed here recently in 1981. The entrance door is made of granite stone and is almost as big as one room. A pear-shaped archway looks colossal and is artistically designed to fit in a square frame. The entrance is decorated by arches, museum and samadhi sthan of Shri Nanasaheb Peshwa
The entrance steps take us to the courtyard of the temple. Sadar is the entrance part of a mansion; a receiving counter where an idol of Ganesh is kept. When this temple was inaugurated and the first pooja was performed, the Peshwas brought this beautiful idol of Ganesh from Jaipur. It is of North Indian style and of pure white marble. This idol of Ganesha is worshipped before commencing any work or activity.
The Main Temple
The main temple was constructed in 1749. It was built with blackstone (known as deccan trap stone) in mortar. The main deity, the Linga of Shiva is kept south-north, facing the east. The Linga is oval-shaped, six inches in diameter, red-black in colour with very thin wire-like lines on it. The upper part of the Linga has a reddish spot, resembling a topi (cap) put on it.
This red spot which is considered to be extremely rare gives it sacred importance. This stone is believed to have been brought from the river Gandaki, a tributory, which flows in Nepal. Such sacred stones are believed to be found only in Gandaki river. The Linga is fixed in brass seat of an unusual shape and cannot be easily removed. It is believed that underneath this Shiva Linga, the wooden sandals (Khadawa) of Chhatrapati Shri Shahu Maharaj, grandson of Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj have been kept. The same were brought by Nanasaheb from Satara after the death of Shri Shahu Maharaj.
The wall behind the Shiva Linga houses the idol of Shiva, with his spouse Parvati on one lap and his young son Ganesh on the other. The idols which are made of copper and brass, sit on a specially carved wooden seat.TheOriginal gold Idols
Originally Peshwas made these idols of pure gold and silver.
- Shiva – 6,33,702 tola silver
- Parvati -1245 tola gold
- Ganesha – 685 tola gold
White being Shiva’s favourite colour, his idol is made of silver whereas the other two idols are made of gold. These Idols were installed after performing all necessary religious ceremonies on Vaishakh Shuddha Panchami i.e. 23rd April 1749. (For reference readers are requested to refer to selections from Peshwas Diaries by Wad & Parasnis vol. III).
The idol of Lord Shiva is about one and half feet tall. He is shown sitting in Padmasana i.e. lotus position, his feet clearly shown over calves. He has four arms in which he holds (clockwise) an arrow, an axe, a bow and a trident (Trishula). The serenity on the Lord’s face is clearly visible. The workmanship of Parvati and Ganpati idols is flawless with every minute detail been taken into account.
The Main Idols of Shiva & Parvati
The silver and gold idols of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha were a matter of great pride and prestige to the residents of Pune city. The public feeling is expressed in the famous ballad written by the contemporary Marathi Poet Ram Joshi who states with pride that “the idols are yellow as they are of gold; and I am not bluffing; come and see the guards watching them with burning torches in their hands”. These idols were part of Peshwa’s personal jewellery and in times of emergency, they were shifted from Parvati Hill to Sinhagad Fort for safe custody. When Nizam’s troops invaded Pune, they were kept at Sinhagad.
During the reign of Savai Madhav Rao, the sixth Peshwa in line, the English troops advancing against the Marathas had reached Talegaon. The entire city of Pune was under the threat of war. Many people fled with their jewellery and valuables. The idols were taken to Sinhagad again. When Yeshwantrao Holkar instigated disturbances and fights in the city, the idols were again sent to Sinhagad fort. In 1817, when the Peshwa Bajirao II decided to stand firm against the British power, he sent his jewellery and these idols with one Pandurang Krishna Bapat, a very trusted servant, to Sinhagad.
Idols siezed by the British
On 2nd March, 1818, the British forces conquered fort Sinhagad and took the fort and the entire wealth of the Peshwas into their possession. These idols of gold and silver were also taken into the custody by the British army. However, when peace was restored, these idols and the silver cover (Kavacha) of the Sacred Bull were duly returned to be displayed in the Parvati temple. This gesture on the part of the British government was only to show their impartial and fair governance; an act which must have been highly appreciated by the people then.
Theft of the Idols
On15th July, 1932, the two gold idols of Parvati and Ganesh were stolen from the Kartikeya Temple. The Police authorities tried their best to find out the culprits but they could not succeed. Rumours started spreading, the most common being that the British government authorities were involved in the theft. The truth never came out and the two idols were permanently lost. In 1936, the new idols made of brass were restored and installed by Rao Bahadur Vaidya, one of the trustees then.
The reinstated idols of Shiva, Parvati and Ganpati are examples of fine Indian metal work.