From War Stories to Love Stories, from discreet lanes to vibrant shopping streets, from the smell of incense in the temple to the colors of the fruits at the market, the Pune Heritage Walk is for everyone!
– Janwani’s description of the heritage walk
Janwani is a Pune based NGO which organizes the National Award for Best Heritage Walk winning walk every weekend. It covers 18 heritage sites spread across 2.4 km in two and half hours. The walk took us through the following sites:
1) Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Building
The walk begins at the PMC main building. The Poona City Municipality started functioning in 1858 and began to serve suburban Poona 1884 onwards. The civic affairs of Pune are managed by PMC that was established on 15th February, 1950.
The statue of social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule in front of the PMC building accentuates his contribution to the society. Mahatma Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls in India. As a tribute to Savitribai’s life and work, the University of Pune was renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University in 2014.
2) Shivaji Bridge
Shivaji Bridge which was built during 1919-1923 is also known as Lloyd Bridge. The bridge displays a combination of various architectural styles. Distinguished by the arched pillars there is a lovely floral pattern carved on in the Colonial – Mughal style.
3) Ghorpade Ghat
Ghorpade Ghat located on the Mutha River is one of the oldest ghats of Pune. The remnants of a tiny Shiva temple are found here which was washed away by massive floods. In 1961, a massive flood destroyed most of the bridges and water rushed into the old ‘peths’ and along Karve road and Deccan Gymkhana. Even today, one can witness the impact of the disaster left on the city at Ghorpade Ghat.
Peshwa Bajirao I laid the foundation of this palace on Saturday in the year 1730. Shaniwarwada was the seat of Peshwa rulers until 1818. Its remnants are now maintained as a heritage site.
5) Mujumdar Wada
It is one of the wadas (residential complexes) from the Peshwa Period which has stayed intact. Built by Sardar Abasaheb Mujumdar, the wada is well preserved and is connected to Katraj Lake through an aqueduct. This 18th century architecture has been preserved and is a treasure trove of music, holding manuscripts of 35,000 bandishen (compositions), ghazals, tappas and thumris in 175 ragas!
6) Fani Ali Talim
A ‘Talim’ or ‘Aakhada’ can be equated with the modern day gymnasium. It is a traditional place which was used for wrestling and body building. Wrestling, called Kusti in Marathi, has a long tradition in Maharashtra. Fani (means a comb) Aali (means a lane) Fani Ali Talim is one of the oldest talims in Pune.
7) Kasba Ganapati Mandir
The temple was raised by Jijabai – mother of Maratha king Shivaji in 1636. The temple has two gabharas. The exterior bricks as well as the inside floral designs bear a stamp of Peshwa era. The Mandir remains the center of attraction during the 10 days of Ganapati Festival. (Manache Ganapati-the Ganapati of honour- is a Pune-specific concept. According to it, five Ganapati Mandal namely Kasaba, Jogeshwari, Guruji Talim, Mandai and Kesari Wada are considered as the five Ganapatis of honour).
8) Lal Mahal
Lal Mahal or the Red Palace was established in the year 1630 by Shivaji’s father Shahaji Bhosale. It was built for Shahaji’s wife Jijabai and son Shivaji, where Shivaji spent almost ten years of his childhood. The Palace was prone to attacks by various enemies of Shivaji and as a result the original palace doesn’t exist anymore. The palace which exists is a reconstructed version of the original palace in the same place and it was done by PMC. The reconstructed palace depicts the life of Shivaji Maharaj during the days when he had to face tremendous attacks from many rulers.
9) Nana Wada
It was built in 1780 by Nana Phadnavis, Peshwa’s chief executive and accounting officer. Currently, the wada is under restoration process but one can find the wooden ceiling, arches, cypress-shaped pillars, motifs of banana-flower here. Nana Phadnavis built this Wada for himself and it is located to the south of Shaniwar Wada. One of the most remarkable forms of governance at that point of time included the ‘Diwankhana’ or the ‘hall of audience’. It is still intact in this wada and was built in the then- popular kalamdan style.
10) Bhau Rangari Ganapati
Bhau Rangari started the first celebration of Ganeshotsav (community/public Ganapati Festival) in Pune in 1892. Bhau Rangari, who was an Ayurvedic medical practitioner, kept his Ganesh idol open to the public because religious gatherings allowed for public exchange of ideas and information.
11) Tambdi Jogeshwari
Tambdi Jogeshwari temple is one of the oldest temples in the city of Pune and the idol of the goddess is regarded as swayambhu (self born idol). The temple was built by Trimbak Bendre in 1545 AD. It is the presiding female deity of the city. As the idol is red in colour it is known as Tamdi Jogeshwari (Tambi means red in Marathi). Many famous artists perform here during the Ganesh festival (The Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganapati is the second Ganapati of honour amongst the five in Pune). This site remains the centre of attraction throughout the year (especially during the Navaratri festival) as the carvings and the interiors of the temple convey a strong message which will always remain unparalleled.
12) Bhide Wada
This is the where the Phules started the first school for girls in India in 1848. It is seen by many as the first step towards women’s liberation in India. The concept of educating girls was then heavily opposed by the orthodox society. Despite being ill-treated, Jyotirao and Savitribai continued on with great determination and kept up their life’s mission of educating women. Savitribai Phule was the first woman teacher of India.
13) Belbaug Vishnu Mandir
The temple was built by Nana Phadnavis in 1769 and is managed by his descendents. The Maratha architecture with a blend of ornate woodwork marks the glory of this temple.
14) Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir
It is one of the oldest libraries of Pune formed as Poona Native General Library in 1848. After Budhwarwada, the original location of the library burnt away, eminent personalities namely Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, Lokhitvadi Gopalrao Hari Deshmukh, Krishnashatri Chiploonkar, Prof.Kero Laxman Chhatre, Daji Neelkanth Nagarkar, Vishnu Parshuram Ranade, Sonya Bapu Mande, Vishnu Moreshwar Bhide took efforts to reestablish the library in 1879. It still functions as a public library in Pune.
15) Mahatma Phule Mandai
Earlier known as Reay Market, it is one of the biggest vegetable markets in Pune. It was renamed as Mahatma Phule Market in 1938. The British government built it in 1885 and made it a centralized place for all the vegetable sellers. The building was built in then popular neo-gothic style. It has a very unique octagonal structure with a central tower.
16) Burud Aali
Aali means by-lane in Marathi and this area is named after the community that lived here. The lane behind the Mahatma Phule Mandai houses the families of bamboo craftsmen. One can find some of the best bamboo baskets, lampsheds, mats, curtains, etc in this area. Some popular aalis are Tambat Aali for coppersmiths and Kumbhar Aali for Potters.
17) Tulshibaug Ram Mandir
Naro Appaji Khire built this temple in 1761. The temple has unique carvings and one can find woodwork, stonework, and lime stucco-work here. Appaji encouraged shopkeepers to start various shops in this area so that the women who came to temple could buy the accessories which they require. This has resulted in the creation of Tulsibaug. Tulsibaug combines innovative thinking and local art forms
18) Vishrambaug Wada
This wada was built in 1807 as the luxurious residence of Peshwa Bajirao II. Miniature models of renowned heritage sites of Pune have been preserved inside the Vishrambaug Wada. The entrance and the balcony carved with wood work makes it one of the most captivating sites of Pune.
The heritage walk organized by Janwani ends with a fascinating cultural performance along with Marathi refreshments and Pune Kasba, the artisan’s corner. It is a way to generate employment for artists working hard to preserve the rich culture. The evening comes to an end with three performances; Lavani (traditional song and a dance combination portrayed on the themes of love, romance and socio-political situations), Bharud (folk dramas based on the ideas of Vedantic philosophy) and Powada (music and verse form praising historical heroes.)