Roads and Highways are built for people not cars. People use cars. The design of any infrastructure should first consider local people. Design should accommodate people and not the other way around.
Circa 1925 – Back Story – Paranjpe Wadi
Narayan Paranjpe was a government employee working under the British. Paranjpe used to own the land from the Bhavani Petrol Pump to the Laxmi Restaurant. This particular stretch of land was known Paranjpe Wadi. In the centre of Paranjpe wadi stood a cow shed. This was the place a few cows were tied and milk was extracted for domestic consumption.
Adi Shankaracharya Marg now a 6 lane highway was a narrow road. At a time only one car would pass one way. If there was a car coming from the opposite side. The car would have to go off the road to let the other car pass.
Narayan Paranjpe was spiritual person and would go to the Mahakali Caves to meditate. In the year 1925, Narayan Paranjpe had a dream. A God appeared in his dream and asked to be rescued from the the lake. (Yeah, sometimes Gods also needs humans to help them. )
By sheer coincidence the cleaning of Powai Lake was in progress. Paranjpe employed more people to dive down to see if they could find any murti (idol). After lot of searching they indeed found a murti of hanuman. The murti idol which is about 3 feet in height was heavy and had to be transported by bullock carts.
(Image credit – Sangeeta Prabhu)
Paranjpe was now looking for a place to install the murti. One of his closest friend offered him his place. It is then decided to transport the idol to his friends place. The bullock after reaching the place where the current Maruti Mandir stands, wouldn’t move. The bullocks tried to unshackle themselves. Exasperated, the people of Paranjpe Wadi decided to install the Maruti idol there itself. It was considered God’s wish.
The faith of devotees
On a regular Saturday, the temple gets about 20000 odd devotees. On Hanuman Jayanti, the number of devotees queing up could go upto lakhs. The word about the jagrut temple has usually spread via word of mouth. Devotees were recommend the temple by well meaning friends and colleagues. Most of the devotees are old timers. Most of them live in Powai and surrounding areas. Some prominent devotees like Ex-Corporator Chandan Sharma visits the temple every day. Many employees of IIT Bombay are ardent followers.
What is common about almost all worshippers is that they feel the temple shouldn’t shift. They are very sure, it doesn’t bother the traffic. One devotee showed me a video recording taken from the temple. The video shows that the traffic builds up because of the long Powai Plaza signal.
Many people who say India is never going to improve as people hold such blind faith. These superstitious worshippers come in the way of the development and progress.
Do people who are asking for removal of the tempe have thought about the following.
- Would broadening the roads solve the massive traffic on JVLR?
- Is building more roads the answer when most of our roads are a mess and pothole ridden?
The dance of the builder and the naive owner of the temple
Circa 2000 – Deal between the builder and the owner of Paranjpe Wadi
MMRDA and MSRDC has plans to widen JVLR. Narayan Paranjpe’s son Shridhar is now owner of Paranjpe wadi. A prominent builder of the area had got the wind of the news before it was public information. He has already done a deal with Paranjpe and the residents of Paranjpe wadi. The Builder is to give them a house right at the corner. A building was hastily made by the name of Maruti Darshan. The residents move into their new houses.
Maruti Darshan Building already in a Bad shape.
Agreement to move the temple to the new premises in Ram Mandir
While the rest of the Paranjpe wadi is sold to the builder. The temple is not sold. An agreement is signed with Shridhar Paranjpe. The mandir is to be moved to a premise in the same building aptly named Maruti Darshan.
The temple built for Maruti Mandir to shift. Now it is called Ram mandir.
Circa 2001 – 2002 – Devotees stage mass protest and even try self-immolation.
The builder as per his agreement builds the temple in Maruti Darshan. Plans are abuzz to shift the temple into these new premises. Word of the same spreads out. Outraged devotees organise themselves and stage huge agitation. The huge mass protest and the anger of the devotees lends the owner of the temple and the builder helpless. They forget their agreement of shifting the temple. The Builder makes a Ram Mandir in the premises meant for Hanuman Temple.
But the past is soon about to catch up
The Builder is accountable for the Promises made to the Government.
The Builder has acquired land from Paranjpe and sold it to the government for “X” amount. The builder hurriedly makes a building. The residents of Paranjpe wadi move into the building. Mr Paranjpe himself gets 2 flats in Maruti Darshan.
The Government pays the builder. The builder gives the residents of Paranjpe wadi flats. Fair deal?
Except the building doesn’t have an OC (Occupation certificate). Is part of the deal is still pending? The job of relocating Hanuman Mandir?
Without a occupation certificate, the owners cannot find a good buyer if they want to sell. Banks don’t give loans to houses if the documentation is incomplete. It is in the interest of the Residents and the Builders to shift the Mandir. The devotees are not going to empathise with the plight of the builder and the residents.
The government wants its agreement honoured. The temple owner and the builder also have their interest in shifting the temple, so the building could get a OC.
The matter goes to the court.
The Shivsena and BJP both have come to the rescue of the temple. There is a stay against the shifting the temple. The court has asked the Builder and the owner of the temple to settle their differences. The agreement signed by the Builder and Paranjpe about shifting of the temple. The Builder has to offer a place for the temple relocation to Paranjpe.
The reaction and wishes of the devotees
What is left to chance is reaction and the wishes of the devotees. I spoke to a devotee called Amit Agarwal. He and 3 of his friends, stood at the temple and gather 45000 signatures on Hanuman Jayanti.
There is owner who is now 92. The temple is a proprietorship concern. Mr Gyanesh Jayaswal a devotee felt the temple has been mis-managed. The owner was naive to get in to these agreement with the builder.
Public places are soon dying. The rich can afford to go to a hospital when faced with a life threatening disease and get a surgery done. The poor go to the temple to pray for their sick loved one. The brother goes to the temple, to wish for his sister to get married.
My only interest in writing this much lengthy piece is to protect our dying public places. Maruti Mandir is a public place in the hands of a private owner who people have trusted for so long. But looking at the state of affairs, it seems we could have done much better.
This is a subjective piece and constructed after talking to mostly devotees. I have neither spoken to the owner of the temple nor the builder. I don’t claim these are the facts. This is what I have gathered and formed a opinion about. You are free to believe otherwise. The writer is not responsible for any misinformation. The writer doesn’t hold himself to be a completely authority on matter of Hanuman Temple. You are free to check your own facts.
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