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In July 1976, Mr. S.P. Malhotra one of Pune’s wealthiest and respectable gentleman had approached HH Gopal Krishna Goswami and had offered to donate a flat land admeasuring 35 acres atop the hill station Mahabaleshwar to Srila Prabhupada. For seeing the land, Srila Prabhupada along with HH Giriraja Swami Maharaja, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaja alongwith HG Hari Sauri P met Mr. Malhotra in December 1976 & visited Mahabaleshwar on 22nd / 23rd December 1976.
Giriräja suggested that it would be an ideal place for Srila Prabhupäda to sit peacefully and translate his books and the devotees could farm it and the foreign devotees could use it as a place to recoup their health. Srila Prabhupäda enthusiastically said he was willing to spend several lakhs of rupees there. He said residential quarters could be built and the householders from Bombay could live there.
In 1983, one of ISKCON’s well-wisher Shri. Narayan Rathi who owned a Laxmi Narayan temple, situated at Ravivar Peth, Pune, had been requested by HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj to allow few devotees to stay there and begin some preaching activities. When Mr. Rathi agreed, a few devotees were sent from ISKCON Juhu to reside there and do preaching. The devotees stayed in some rooms in the temple & would put up a book stall in the evening outside the temple. They would interact with the local pious people of Pune and speak to them about Krishna Consciousness.
Later after several months, somewhere in early 1984, Mr. S.P. Malhotra inspired his good friend Mr. Anklesariya to help in opening an ISKCON Center in his abandoned bungalow situated at 4, Tarapore Road. The bungalow & its boundary walls were totally in a dilapidated state & had required maintenance. There was huge overgrown grass in the premises which was infested with snakes and rats & there was no running water or electricity. HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj agreed to take the premises on rent & like this the first ever center of ISKCON was established in 1984 in Pune.
Gradually many people from nearby vicinities started visiting. For overseeing the affairs of the center, HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj appointed Mauritius-born HG Kurma Das prabhu as the first president of this temple.
Initially there was no deity, but photos of Sri Sri Radha-Rasbihari ji kept on a makeshift temple. A small rope demarcated the temple area. A year later, HG Dadibhaksh P (ACBSP) took charge as the president of the center.
Outreach activities then included meeting some prospective donors / life members apart from a public program held in Nehru Memorial Hall, which was advertised in News Paper.
HG Dadibaksh P got some basic facilities installed. He later rented a car for Rs. 3000/month, which would be used for preaching activities.
A signboard was put outside the premises. However many people who had some work at MG Road back side of temple, would frequently use the temple premises for parking their vehicles. A typical Sunday program would see attendance of approx. 20-30 people, mainly from the Malhotra family. Along with him Ramesh Thakkar was very good supporter of ISKCON from the beginning. Malhotra ji recollects that the first Janmashtami festival celebrated in 1984 was attendance of only 10 people. These were some life members made by ISKCON Bombay, who stayed in Pune.
Later, in 1986 HG Manihar Prabhu an Englishman & Srila Prabhupada disciple took over as the president. He was a Grhastha who had now adopted Vanaprastha Ashram & thus with his friend HG Rajashekhar P they took charge of the temple. HG Manihar P used to conduct some programs for families & children on Sundays. He was incharge of the temple for almost 1.5 years. Many more people started getting connected now.
In 1987, A sankirtan-bus of ISKCON Juhu temple was returning from Solapur to Mumbai via Pune. The bus housed beautiful deities of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai. Unfortunately, the bus met with an accident near outskirts of Pune & thus the large wooden Gaur Nitai aboard the bus were damaged. Those deities were then kept at Pune & after required repairs & worshipped by devotees. These are the same deities that adorn the altar as of now.
During 1988, HG Manihar P left the seva due to some personal reasons & HG Vrajendra Nandan P of Delhi was requested to take charge of the temple.
HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj used to frequently visit Pune, almost 5-6 times a year. That time he used to travel in car from the old-Mumbai highway. Devotees were taken to ISKCON Juhu for initiation. The first initiation ceremony in ISKCON Pune premises was conducted much later in 1997 by HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj.
While the temple activities had expanded and preaching had started to flourish, the then temple president HG Vrajendra Nandan P had to leave his services due to health reasons.
In 1990, HG Krishna Nam P, who was a Maharashtrian disciple of Srila Prabhupada took charge as the president. The temple which was with huge debt of approx. 5.5 Lakhs when he took over, but by his extensive preaching & connecting many life members, it came in positive balance. He connected some very important donors with the temple. He was doing extensive traveling & Bhagavad Katha for raising laxmi.
HG Krishna Naam P was also instrumental in installing the deities of Shri Shri Radha Kunjabihari ji. These deities belonged to Ramesh Thakkar ji & were lying at his home. Malhotra ji had seen those deities and insisted that such beautiful deities needed a better standard of seva. Thus Thakkar ji considered handing over the deities to ISKCON. They were brought in 1990 but wrapped in cloth till about Gaur Purnima of 1992.
A grand shobha yatra on two horse carts carrying deities of Radha-Kunjabihari ji & Gaur-Nitai ji was celebrated & then the deities arrived at the temple & a maha-abhishekam was performed for welcoming the deities.
In 1994, HG Jagjivan P (ISKCON Bhayander – Mumbai temple president then) took over charge of ISKCON Pune center. HG Gudakesh P also used to regularly visit the center.
HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj then requested HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj to kindly send few devotees for running the center.
Thus, in 1995 HH Vrindavan Swami took charge of running the center, but was later posted elsewhere for other responsibilities.
So towards the beginning of 1996 till early 1997, HG Krishnanand P was made the president. He took major responsibility to celebrate Srila Prabhupada centennial festival at ISKCON Pune. There was pada-yatra observed for 7 days from 2nd June onwards. Daily Kirtans were held at different areas of Pune. More than 15000 boondi packets were distributed during this event. Srila Prabhupada was bathed with Sahastra Tirtha jal. Sponsorship for this Kalash was Rs.3501/-.
During his time morning program standards became was very pakka. He was very disciplined & strict president in ISKCON Pune history. He used to stress a lot on Sadhana Bhakti.
Finally, in 1997 HG Radheshyam P (M.Tech, IIT Mumbai) took charge as the president. He has been the president since then and the temple has grown leaps and bounds under his leadership.
After HG Radheshyam P came in, the youth preaching and activities at temple multiplied. He was a very disciplined & educated person & thus many people became inspired by his association.
Many educated youth became full time monks and many families got introduced, took initiation and became well connected congregation members.
Many festivals including grand Janmashtami & Gaur Purnima, annual Bhagavat Katha by HH Lokanath Swami Maharaj, youth camps began under his leadership attracting thousands of people.
With over a decade of preaching efforts, a growing need for more space was felt. Thus the new temple land (ISKCON NVCC) was procured in 2007 and bhumi pujan was done by the hand of HH Jaiadvait Swami Maharaj & HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj.
Construction work began for a mega 40-crore temple complex spread over 6 acres of land. Inspite of several up’s and down’s the project was completed by HG Sri Guru Charan P and his team of dedicated devotees.
The ISKCON NVCC was formally inaugurated on the 23rd February 2013 by the then Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranav Mukherjee, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj, HH Lokanath Swami Maharaj, HG BasuGhosh P, HG Devakinandan P
The current management of ISKCON Pune (Camp) temple is being done under the leadership of HG Radheshyam P as the Temple President and a Temple Management Council (TMC) consisting of 8 members:
-Beautiful darshan of Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari & Sri Sri Gaur Nitai.
-Regular activities for kids, youth & families.
-Brahmachari Ashram with around 35 residential devotees.
-Training programs for those aspiring to become full-time devotees.
-Drona Prasadam distribution to visitors.
-Bakery items & Snacks available at Govindas Mahaprasad counter.
-Matchless Gift store for unique devotional items.
-Festivals & Bhagavat Kathas by eminent ISKCON speakers.
-Several satsang programs organized by devotees of Radha Kunjabihari Mandir in and around Pune city.
-Various festivals celebrated through the temple like Janmashtami, Gaur Purnima, Rath Yatras, etc.
-Harinam Sankirtan in different parts of Pune.
The Govinda’s Mahaprasad stall serves a variety of Bakery & fast food items which are made with good hygiene and quality. These are offered to the Lord and thus purify one’s mind and consciousness. We constantly strive to maintain the best taste as well as quality. We invite you all to experience the divine taste of Pure Vegetarian bakery Prasad at Govindas Mahaprasad.
The Gift stall offers a unique variety of devotional paraphernalia. Various gift items and deity paraphernalia like Deity, Deity Alter, Frames, Aarti paraphernalia, Lockets, Beads, Counting items, Bead bag, Aarti items, Cow products, Greeting Cards, Children items, Books, CD, Bags & baggage, Lord’s & special Foot wear, Clothing, Deity Dress, Deity Jewellery and many more are available at the store!
The Seva Office offers devotees an opportunity to render sponsorship for different services unto Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari ji & Sri Sri Gaur Nitai ji.
Hare Krishna Food for Life (FFL) is the world’s largest vegetarian food distribution program serving millions of meals daily, with projects in over 60 countries. With roots in the Vaishnava culture of charity and the distribution of pure food to all, the project is a modern day revival of the ancient culture of hospitality and a belief in the equality of all beings. Food For Life has been lauded by The New York Times and government relief agencies worldwide for its efforts worldwide.
Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-acarya, is the inspiration behind Food for Life. He stated in 1972 that “No one within ten miles of an ISKCON temple should go hungry.” Since that time ISKCON devotees have expanded a global network of free food restaurants, mobile services and relief programs establishing daily delivery routes in many large cities around the world.
Currently, with the given resources we are able to serve hot khichdi prasadam to everybody who walks in the temple.
For sponsoring Food for Life prasadam, please contact Seva Office.
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