Mumbai 6 – Banganga tank – its history and mythological importance

Banganga Tanks

Banganga Tank

Banganga or Banganga Tank is an ancient[1]water tank which is part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex in Malabar Hill area ofMumbai in India.

Banganga Tank and Walkeshwar Temple c 1855

HistoryEdit

The Tank was built in the 1127 AD, byLakshman Prabhu, a minister in the court ofSilhara dynasty kings of Thane.[2][3]

It was rebuilt in 1715 AD, out of a donation for the Walkeshwar Temple by Rama Kamath.[4]The main temple, has been reconstructed since then and is at present a reinforced concrete structure of recent construction.

Banganga in MythologyEdit

Banganga Temple sikhara

According to local legend, it sprang forth when the Lord Ram, the exiled hero of the epic Ramayana, stopped at the spot in search of his kidnapped wife Sita.

As the legend goes, overcome with fatigue and thirst, Rama asked his brotherLakshmana to bring him some water. Laxman instantly shot an arrow into the ground, and water gushed forth from the ground, creating a tributary of the Ganges, which flows over a thousand miles away, hence its name, Banganga, the Ganga created on a baan(arrow).[5]

The Banganga also houses the ‘Shri Kashi Math’ and ‘Shri Kaivalya or Kawle Math’ of theGoud Saraswat Brahmins at its banks and samadhis of their various past heads of theMath.[6]

The area also has a Hindu cremation ground[7] which after 2003, received a makeover to house a Gas crematorium.[8]

The area still has an old Hindu cemetery consisting of samadhi shrines of variousAdvaita gurus, such as Sri Siddarameshwar Maharaj (1888–1936) and his disciple, Sri Ranjit Maharaj (1913–2000).[9][10]

TodayEdit

The tank today is a rectangular pool structure surrounded by steps on all four sides. At the entrance are two pillars in which oil lamps called diyas were lit in ancient times.

The tank, as well as the main Walkeshwar Temple and the Parshuram Temple belong to the Goud Saraswat Temple Trust, which once owned most of the property in the complex. Many Goud Saraswat Brahmin families (Rege, Anaokar, Mulgaonkar, Kenkre, Sakhardande, Sukthankar, Keni, Marudkar, Naik, Wartikar, Warerkar, Bidikar, Bhende, Prabhawalkar, Pagnis) used to reside / still reside in the Temple Trust buildings in the complex.

The tank is spring fed and so its water remains sweet, despite being located only a few dozen meters away from the sea. Apart from being a cultural hub, the place over the years has provided inspiration to many artists, be it on film or on canvas.

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