Nagpur: Sangam Chawl, Cradle of the city’s heritage temples, boasts of having 200 years old temples of Karthikeya, Shiva, Hanuman and Krishna. Now some of them have become hangout spots for antisocial elements while some have been turned into residences by occupants over the last three generations.
The Buty family, which owns Shiv and Rukmini temples in the lane on either side, discourages visitors from entering the premises. Of the heritage structures, one remains desolate while the space surrounding the other is used to park vehicles.
Preeti Buty Shandilya, owner of Fortune Mall and a member of the Buty family, says that in earlier days people used to come to the temples just to worship. Now, keeping the premises free of antisocial elements is a tough job. “It becomes difficult to maintain a big structure. People should realize that it is a private structure owned by a family and maintained for private purposes,” she asserts.
A group of people could be seen smoking at the entrance of another Shiva temple, located inside the chawl. Pandit Ram Sundar Tiwari, he looks after a Hanuman temple located very close to the confluence of Nag River and Futala overflow stream, said that after 10pm, the group also indulges in drinks and other intoxicants. They also fight among themselves. We don’t interact with them or interrupt them, fearing their reaction. The pandit who looks after these temples comes in the morning and leaves by 5pm.
He also added that the Hanuman mandir was once without walls and his father have constructed walls around it since thugs would come and create ruckus.
Subramanyam Devasthan, one of the oldest Karthikeya temples in the city, is owned by a trust. GS Natarajan, secretary of the temple, said the land has been illegally occupied by families who built houses here back in 1990s. Natarajan, secretary of the temple said that the garden and well belonging to the Karthikeya temple have been spoilt. The sangam at the area, earlier used as a bathing ghat, is now pitch black flowing water. Trustees have lodged a case against the occupants, and proceedings have been going on since 1995.
In the chawl, a small Shiv temple is open to visitors. Inside the temple, some space is occupied by a tailor living next door. Noted city architect Pradyumn Sahasrabhojanee says that land ownership at Sangam Chawl is quite confusing. He said that-there is uncertainty about who owns it. Earlier, the land was free for whoever wished to build religious structures, since it was seen as a social cause. Today, however, some of them have been converted into residences.
Shubham Tiwari, one of the residents, says that their house has been there much before he was born. “We don’t know who owns it, but we do pay tax,” he says.