By Marina Correa
Photography: Courtesy the architect
Kimaya Architects bag the Honourable Mention in the 2015 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for their restoration of the 16th century Parvati Nandan Ganapati Temple in Ganeshkhind, Pune…
Usage of traditional materials like stone, wood and lime; opening up walls to natural light and ventilation; exfoliating paint from stone and woodwork; removal of marble to uncover original basalt stone flooring… are among the several painstaking efforts taken by architects Kiran and Anjali Kalamdani.
They’ve approached the project by scrutinizing details and encouraging locals to share their folklore regarding the temple and its surrounding areas, strengthening their understanding of the evolution of this unlisted heritage property.
Further, a comparison with the buildings and temples built in and around Pune has aided in identifying the staggered manner in which this temple is built. The gabhara (inner sanctum) reflects the Yadava style, the shikhar (spire) follows the early Maratha style, whilst the sabhamandap (assembly pavilion) resonates with the late Peshwa style.
Throughout the phase-wise execution, intangibles like sensitivity towards materials, respect for the original legacy and care towards retaining the historic fabric of the temple reflect the mature choices and techniques employed to restore the temple back to its original form by undoing all the arbitrary changes undertaken over the years. For instance, out-of-context benches are replaced with custom-designed teak ones; choice of garnet powder over sand for removing paint from stone surfaces ensures no harm to surrounding surfaces and the like.
But, not everything is restored. New forms used as decorative elements have taken birth from inspiration found in oriental religious buildings, while the decayed and damaged brick wall of the entrance getaway is rebuilt in stone.
Literally and metaphorically heralding a new dawn - layers of grime are shorn off the brass Kalash (pinnacle) and plated in silver and gold. Interestingly, the project has patronized traditional services such as the fine art of polishing and cleaning metals, in turn sustaining the livelihood of local craftsmen.
Lastly, but most importantly, involvement of the local community in the project has created so much goodwill that vandalism and misuse of property are as far removed as possible.