Recently, I got a peek into a city’s heritage where I have lived in for the longest time – The City of Pune rich in its history, culture and traditions. Though I believe, I don’t belong here (and I don’t belong anywhere), I am in love with its heritage. This weekend, I was a part of the heritage walk organized by Virasat Pune. It was both interesting and insightful led by a very intelligent guide – who holds doctorate (PhD) in administration techniques of Shivaji Maharaj. So, you can imagine he was not just a guide, but a walking encyclopedia! Here’s what I got to know about Pune and want to share with every Punekar:
- The famous door of Shaniwar Wada is merely symbolic and never used: Shaniwarwada was built in the 18th century and was the seat of Peshwa rulers until it was conquered by the British. The main gate of the complex faces the north side. As per Vaastu Shastra (traditional Hindu system of architecture which means ‘science of architecture’) Hindus believe the main door of a house must face in the east-west direction. However, it does imply Peshwa’s ambition to conquer North of India and that is believed to be a reason for such a fortified design of the gate. In fact, it is also dubbed as ‘Dilli Darwaza’ and symbolizes aggression of Bajirao Peshwa against the Mughal rulers of the north. Similarly, the statue of Peshwa Bajirao on a horseback situated in front of the wada door faces northward too for similar reasons!
- Nana Fadnavis’ personal temple is very well maintained. The family still maintains a personal Lord Ganesha temple admist the hustle-bustle of Laxmi road. Its spic-and span and a pristine heaven on the busy laxmi road. We are not allowed to take pictures, but the amount of efforts led by the family in restoration and maintenance will make every Puneri proud!
- The British were very jealous of our traditional architecture. Isn’t that ironic? Everyone drools over British architecture and they were jealous of ours. It’s a well-known fact that the Brits did not take effective steps to put off the fire in Shaniwar Wada, hence it is believed that they were conspirators behind theburning of The Wada. However, by constructing the top of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai 10 feet higher than the top (Kalas/Kalash) of the Ram mandir in Tulshi Baug (the highest structure then in the market area) they just proved the point!
- We should not take pictures at Kasba Ganpati. Our famous gram devta is on the hit-list of terrorists and hence it’s recommended by the Pune Police we do not take pictures and geolocate it. Hence status like these are not required- “Aww so glad to visit and get our gram devtah’s blessings. Ganpati Bappa Morya! #KasbaGanpati, #LordGanesha #Temple #Blessings”
- We had an equivalent of a Marine Drive designed for PuneThe Nava Pool is the bridge that connects Shaniwar Wada to Pune Municipal Corporation and has semi-circular sides. The idea was that we can sit on the sides, meet, interact without disturbing the traffic. I love the special places the British designed to enjoy a great view with the foresight to manage the traffic. Today, alas with the river running dry and cleaning project still underway it may not be as picturesque as it was designed to be.
- Vishrambaug Wada is amazingly restored and must be visited: Vishrambaug Wada is a mansion (wada) again built by the Peshwas (Bajirao Peshwa II) in the early nineteenth century. The mansion which also had caught fire is getting restored by the Pune Municipal
Corporation (PMC) under the Heritage Corridor Plan. Restoration is extremely detail oriented painful process and the Pune Municipal Corporation is doing fantastic job. I am planning to take my family to visit it and I think everyone should to laud the efforts of PMC.
- Bhau Rangari Mandal Ganpati is symbolic Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom and good luck. However, the statue by Bhau Rangari mandal in Pune depicts – anger, aggression and killing of the demon. Many people who watch ganpati always wonder- how can the Vighnaharta, which means Vanquisher of obstacles is killing someone. Well, the truth is the idol killing a demon is symbolic and a rare form of Lord Ganesh. The mandal dates back to 1890s when the struggle for freedom was at its peak. It was a depiction of the ideas of Indians killing the British Raj!
I am so glad I could explore my city. Taking a walking tour with an insightful historian who can make these ancient structures come alive was an incredible experience. I hope to become sort of a walking junkie!
So this year my mantra is to explore my own city before I set to travel the world!