(Last Updated on : 09/02/2010)
The historical legacies of the different rulers of Pune
are to be found in the various historical monuments of Pune. Not only do we find here the grandiose palaces of the Marathas, but a number of civic and military constructions undertaken by the British. One of the prime attractions among the historical monuments of Pune is the Shaniwar Wada
or the Saturday Palace.Wadas served as the residence of the Peshwas and this was one of their most important palaces. The Shaniwar Wad was built by Rao, grandfather of the last Peshwa in1736. Originally an imposing residence for the Peshwa, with guesthouses, gardens and fountains, it was gutted by fire in 1791, 1812 and 1828, so that today only the massive outer walls remain.
Even though it has been built in the mid-18th century, the quadrangular enclosure is designed on mediaeval lines, with high walls, towers, embrasures and loopholes. Faced in dressed stone and brickwork, there are four corner towers projecting well beyond the walls and one to the centre of each side. The walls have a continuous walkway protected by a loop-holed parapet. The beautifully engraved arches, the Ganesh Darwaza and the remarkably constructed Ganesh Rangmahal which was the Hall of Justice are an impressive display of the might and strength of the Marathas. The principal entrance is via the Delhi Gate, in the north wall facing the river. The entrances are protected by huge doors studded with elephant spikes. The spikes on the Delhi Gate are over 12 in long
There are two powerful bastions that flank the Delhi Gate
.A central portion rising between them forms a balcony with two rooms behind. It was from this balcony that the Peshwa Madhava Rao Narayan fell to his death in 1796.It was at the same site in 1773 that the young Peshwa Narayan Rao was murdered by his guards. It has a tall pointed archway 12 ft wide, closed by spiked and studded teak doors, the spikes arranged in eight horizontal rows, each 6 in apart. Inside the gateway is a rectangular hall with recesses and guardrooms to each side. A recent discovery has been the Hazari Karanje or Fountain of a Thousand Jets. It is a lotus fountain from which 197 jets of water issued.
In front of the palace is a war memorial to the Maratha soldiers who fell in the First World War.
In the nearby Budwar Peth is the Visram Bagh
. It is a perfect example of a Maratha palace, with beautiful columns, a courtyard and wooden entrance porch.
The Lal Mahal
of Pune was built by Shivaji`s father, Shahaji Bhonsale, in the year 1643 AD. He set up this palace for his wife Jijabai
and son. It was the residence of Shivaji for many years till he captured his first fort. The Lal Mahal is made up of red bricks. There are four umbrellas on the roof which is the chief attraction of the place. There is a statue of Jaimata, Shivaji`s mother which stands tall here. Also among the statues are those of Shivaji in his youth.There is a Jijamata garden here which is now a recreational park for the kids. The Pune Municipal Corporation refurbished the Lal Mahal in 1998.The Lal Mahal is a major attraction among the various monuments of Pune.
Lying towards the outskirts of the town is the Parvati Hill and temple
. A long series of steps and ramps leads to the top of the hill, where there is a temple built by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao
in about 1758. On the north-west side of the perimeter wall is a Moorish window, where Baji Rao is alleged to have witnessed the defeat of his army at Kirkee in 1817.
Set beautifully amidst the six acre Bund Gardens is the Aga Khan Palace
. It is an elegant building replete with salons and suites. It was built in 1860 as an act of charity in order to provide employment to the people of Pune who had been severely affected by famine. This palace however is more than just that. It is a historical landmark. Mahatma Gandhi
and certain other leaders of the Indian National Congress
were imprisoned here during the Quit India Movement
of 1942. After the Quit India Resolution was passed, Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba were held here under house arrest. . Today it is maintained as a memorial to him. Kasturba Gandhi, his wife, died here and her memorial tomb stands on the estate.
Opposite the Bund Gardens are the Bund Hills, where the British mounted artillery in November 1817 to secure the river crossing. The Puma Kuti Palace
, built by Sir Vithaldas Thackeray, lies at the top of the hill.
Also very famous among the monuments of Pune is the Shivneri fort
. It is the birthplace of the great Maratha leader Chatrapati Shivaji
.It was a well known historical military fortification. The boundary wall of the fort was built extremely high so as to protect it from enemies. A life like statue of Shivaji can be seen standing at the entrance. Located in the middle of the fort is a water pond called the Badami Talab. An interesting find here is a beautiful mosque with two towers joined by a graceful arch. Seven doors have to be crossed before the fort can be accessed.
The Shinde Chattri
is a memorial built as a tribute to the great Maratha nobleman Mahadji Shinde.He was the Commander-in-chief of the Maratha army under the Peshwas.There is found here a painting of the warrior made is silver, with a flame coloured turban and an elaborately designed shawl. Kept at his feet are the original Puja vessels that he used to use while praying to his family deity.
Also found among the historical monuments of Pune are various architectural constructions of the British colonial rulers.
There is a cluster of civic buildings in the centre of the city. Sir Robert Sassoon`s House, Garden Reach
, is a historical monument of Pune. Set behind elegant gothic iron gates, it was built between 1862 and 1864 and designed by Colonel Sir Henry St Clair Wilkins; it is constructed of local grey stone with a corner tower capped by an iron cupola. The gardens are beautifully laid out. The rooms are paved with marble. The dining-room is connected to the house by a long open gallery with a verandah to each side. Beside this is an open room used during the Feast of the Tabernacles. Copies of Italian statues adorn the house, which is enriched with stained glass. The ceiling of the drawing-room was decorated by local artists in imitation of the ceiling at the former Government House nearby at Ganesh Khind.
The Sassoon Hospitals
were designed in English Gothic style by Wilkins and Melliss in 1867.It was funded by Sir Jacob Sassoon. The hospitals lie at the end of the Arsenal Road. In 1909 the hospitals were expanded and new buildings erected to the designs of John Begg to commemorate the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales three years earlier. Outside the main gate is a large war memorial, commemorating local losses during the First World War.
The Council Hall
, measuring 63 feet long and 20 feet wide is a repository of interesting pictures. Found here are paintings of Sir Bartle and Lady Frere, Lord Napier of Magdala, Sir Salar Jung
, the Gaekwads of Baroda
and several other local worthies. Opposite lies the Record Room
or Daftar which contains records of the Peshwas.
The Lloyd Bridge
was built in 1922.It provides access across the Mutha River
for the Mumbai
Road. Opened by Sir George Lloyd, Governor of Mumbai, it is 514 feet long, crossing the river in a series of eleven spans into the heart of the city.
, designed by Colonel A. U. H. Finch, was opened in 1875 to replace an earlier wooden structure built to mark Lord Wellesley`s
victories in India. It is 482 ft long.
On the west bank are the District Courts
, designed by Major Melliss in tropical Gothic style, and Poona Engineering College (1859), a grey stone Gothic range. The Sangamvadi is a long stone range on the site of the original British Residency, which burnt in 1877.
University of Pune
now occupies the former Government House, southwest of Kirkee railway station. It was designed by James Trubshawe and is dominated by a high water tower, capped by an open iron cupola. It is a rambling building in grey stone with pink granite dressings loosely inspired by Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Inside, the principal rooms are the drawing-room (complete with minstrels` gallery), the ballroom and a cool recessed courtyard or cortile on the garden frontage. The outer walls arc enriched with stone medallions of former governors.
The Deccan College
is a long, handsome Gothic range in grey trapstone designed by Colonel Sir Henry St Clair Wilkins in 1864. The Library contains a collection of portraits of former principals, including Dr Wordsworth, a nephew of the poet, and Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, the first Parsee baronet.
In front of the Shivaji Memorial Hall in Pune is a notable bronze equestrian Statue of Shivaji
. Standing over 30 ft high, the statue V. P. Karkomar .It was unveiled in 1928 by Sir Leslie Wilson.