M and I have our little story linked to this temple (its 160 year old history apart). This temple was a mystery 2 months back. We scoured for it in the whole of Wadi area and MG Road (in rain and wind, in August) but failed to find it. So determined were we to locate it, we drove on the 2 wheeler, totally drenched, on crowded roads one Sunday evening and accepted confusing instructions from locals who had only vaguely heard of it. We stopped our search only when rain threatened to give us flu.
I was convinced the temple doesn’t exist.
Until, a friend, like a stork bringing happy news, informed us that his friend’s father has been a pandit (priest) in that very temple. Both of them led us there last Sunday (which incidentally happened to be my second-last day in Baroda) and very frankly, I had no hopes. I expected a really dilapidated, unimpressive temple.
I was quite wrong. The sight that met my eyes left me speechless (even though I did find the exteriors a bit bland).
This temple is located in the heart of Wadi area. You need to reach there by meandering through narrow housing lanes and I assure you, once is not enough to remember the way.
The upsetting thing is the temple is totally concealed by a high wall, which makes it impossible to picture an important monument inside. No wonder, hardly anyone has ever heard of it. It’s disappointing and worrying that such a gem is hidden from everyone and is not getting the attention, praise, admiration it deserves.
The temple was built by Gopalrao Mairal, a diwan during the regime of Sayaji Rao Gaekwad II. As per a story, he was quite wealthy and close to the King; he had even lent some Crores of rupees to the latter in time of need. Today, the 5th generation of Mairals are maintaining the temple.
The monument has been built using Gujarati and Marathi architecture. The arches, doors, ceiling and pillar supports are very colourful, blue, yellow, red and green very predominant. A unique combination of wood and marble has been used to build it. A Ganeshji idol, which is flanked by Riddhi and Siddhi (usually not spotted), is placed for worship. Pooja and aarti still happens here 3 times a day.
A strong resemblance can be seen with Tambekar Wada. The jaali work, flowery motifs and excess use of colour is common to both monuments.
We were shown around by current members of Mairal family who stay right there, maintain the temple and perform daily rituals. They were nice people and were happy to have interested visitors as guests.
This is a piece of art. A masterpiece.
Barodians, go and take a look immediately!
Others, DON’T MISS IT if you happen to be in Baroda during daytime.