The big orange flood comes to Pune usually in the month of July after continued rains for a week or more. It always comes as a surprise and it is like a day of festivities for lovers of the rivers like Mumbiram. Mumbiram had great curiosity about how the floods look at different points up and down the river. The Mula Mutha Sangam, the place where the two rivers meet each other, was one such place. As Mumbiram arrived there on this day, as we see in this painting, several enthusiastic groups of men and women playing Vajantri pipes and Tashe drums carrying pitchers of water with flowers and leaves, dancing, singing and throwing yellow bhandara and red gulal. What a surprise that was. It must have been already planned. It was the month of Shravan after all.
There are Shiva temples spread all along the rivers of Pune. This spot of confluence of the rivers is no exception. There is the main Sangameshwar, “Lord of the Confluence”. But there is also a very attractive stand-alone Shiva temple that we see here in this vision. It was built by Ahilya Devi Holkar, the lady who built temples all over India, including at Varanasi. The festivities here were spontaneous and enthusiastic. The location and atmosphere were perfect inspiration for such an event. The rivers were full and gushing but the sky was open and sunny. The sun was going down but the night was still far away.
Mumbiram thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere as can be seen in the detail he has shown of various activities that the celebrants engaged in.
Like many other spots along these rivers this spot also has important landmarks that not everyone knows. The Mutha is coming here from the left. The Mula is arriving from the front. Together they are going downstream to the right. Right in front on the wooded hill is the district magistrate’s residence.
The whole surrounding was replete with places of British colonial references. The legendary Mount Stuart Elphinstone had his residency next doors where the District Judge now resides. Vasudev Balvant was tried for sedition and rebellion just across the street. Straight ahead in the distance you see the hill of the Chatushringi temple. In front of that you see the tower of the Cowasji Jehangir Mansion sticking out over the forest. That is the forest where the “Forest Women” painting was inspired. On the right side across the river is farmland that is in the army reserved area. The legendary Lahuji Vastad left his body somewhere on that land. Mumbiram’s hero Vasudev Balvant, the rebel patriot who organized a gang of Ramoshi tribals, was a martial arts student of Lahuji Vastad. Mumbiram’s earliest Mang friend Tara Sadashiv Thorat lived at Lahuji Vastad Talim in Ganj Peth. Her sister Chhabi was one of Mumbiram’s earliest muses. Tara’s son Bhaarat travelled with Mumbiram to Vrindavan and to Usar of Thakur tribals who are holding Mumbiram’s “Iconic Krishna” painting. Mumbiram’s life in Pune was so beautifully interwoven.
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