Wednesday 25 February 2015

Pune Heritage Walk

In 2011, when my husband announced that his company is transferring him to Pune, I jumped with excitement. The first thought was, Pune is where the Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji grew up in, and freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar had their base in, and I'm going to be in that place. I had enjoyed history immensely in school, so much so that while the History teacher narrated tales of wars and freedom struggle, I almost went back in time, lived the story and came back fully charged. 
When I got to know that The Western Routes organizes the Pune Heritage Walk, I was eagerly waiting to join. That time finally came in February this year. My husband and I, along with an Indian friend, his Japanese wife and adorable child set out on a fine morning to discover the heritage of Pune. The walk was conducted by the founder of The Western Routes, Jayesh Paranjape, a very friendly and informative person. Do dig up information on the best places to eat in Pune, if you ever happen to meet him..:-) 

The trail took around 4 hours and Jayesh took us to some wonderful places to eat too. (read misal pav, sabudana wada, aloowadi and endless glasses of fresh sugarcane juice)

This post is more of a picture story, for I strongly recommend that you participate in the trail yourself if you get an opportunity, for all the juicy details from history..:-) 

The entrance to the Shaniwarwada fort, which was constructed in 1746 and was the seat of the Peshwa rulers. The houses inside were made of wood and were destroyed in a massive fire in 1828, so one can see only the foundation of the buildings which were made of stone. The foundation stone of the fort was laid on a Saturday that is why the name 'Shaniwarwada'; 'Shaniwar' meaning Saturday and 'wada' meaning , houses.

This is the close up of the gate of the Shaniwarwada. There are huge spikes on the surface to deter the elephants from the enemies side from tearing down the gates.

Inside the fort...

The events pertaining to Shaniwarwada  listed chronologically on a marble stone. It's an interesting piece of information that the ruling Peshwa, Bajirao, had a second wife, called Mastani, and since she was not very welcome in the family, there was another entrance gate made dedicated for her, and she could not enter the fort from any other gate. Their story had now been made into a Bollywood movie by the name 'Bajirao Mastani'.

The family tree of the Peshwa rulers..

The stairs leading to the upper floor and rampart..

The picture below is of one of the houses in Kasbapeth. Notice the old Pune style of architecture juxtaposed with Queen Victoria's image on the metal railing.  This was to show the family's loyalties to the British during the pre-Independence era.

This is the Kasbapeth Ganpati, which is a 'swayambhoo' Ganpati, meaning the stone naturally assumed the form of the Elephant headed God, Ganesha. It is said that when Shivaji along with his mother, Jijabai, arrived in Pune to settle down, the Ganesha appeared around the same time in one of the ministers backyard. When the news was conveyed to Jijabai, she took it as an auspicious sign for her son, to make Pune as one of his main bases to rule the kingdom. Photography was not permitted inside. The architecture and the wooden carvings and beams inside are still well preserved even after 400 years.

Notice the inlay of brick work. Pune, in those days was known for brick making and bricks were custom made according to its use. You will also notice how the bricks are arranged, some vertically, some horizontally. That was unique to the houses of old Pune. It was only after the British arrived that the brick size was standardized, as was the laying of, of the same.

One of the wadas in old Pune..

Nanawada, where one of the important Peshwa ministers, Nana Phadnavis lived. It was built in 1780 and now the building functions as a school.

Look closely at the photo and you will see the image of a banana flower (kelphool) carved on wood. This is a recurring motif in Pune's old architecture and was used in all the houses, temples and forts.

This is an unusual image of Ganesha, killing a demon with one of his tusks.

Loved the brick patterns...:-)

The riot of colours in Mandai, the wholesale market...

 An old library ...

The entrance to Visharmbaug wada, which was home to Peshwa Bajirao, the second.

The place was being renovated so we could see the upper floors, but I loved the vibrant colours and the wood work from whatever I could see...

An old well inside..

The Indian gargoyle outside Vishrambaugwada..Notice the motif of the banana flowers here too..:-)

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Thursday 19 February 2015

Wall Art in a Pune school- Sayajinath Maharaj Vidyalaya

When I was working on the earlier mural, a gentleman stopped by and introduced himself as the Principal of a Marathi medium school near Alandi. He said he would love some artwork in his school and he would arrange for our transport to and from the school (from Viman nagar), food/tea and also the paints. We would just have to gift our time and service there. I thought it was a great deal. It was super amazing when an anonymous sponsor appeared to supply art material too. This being a government aided school receives little funding and we were happy to cheer up the walls, the students and everybody there. I was again accompanied by my dear friend Urmila this time..:-)

Thursday 29 January 2015

Road trip to Sindhudurg

To make the best of the long weekend around Republic Day, we decided to do a  road trip to Sindhudurg. This post is picture heavy because pictures speak a thousand words! :-)

The drive was lovely meandering through the mountains and sugarcane fileds....

Fiery red chillies that go into making the fiery Kolhapuri masala, in Kolhapur.

All along the way we saw tractors loaded with sugarcane on their way to sugar mills.

Shreeyog Paryatan- our home-stay in Padave village in Sindhudurg district.

Our room....

It was surrounded by mango, cashew and coconut trees

Mr and Mrs Kadam, our lovely hosts. Their only son, Lt.Col. Manish Kadam, was martyred in 2008 in Kashmir while fighting militants and was awarded the Kirti Chakra. In spite 
of their loss, they exude such inspiration, love and warmth. They treated us like their own children, asking us what we would like to eat, and giving us all the possible help and 

information. While leaving Aunty gave me a huge hamper with Malwani masala, thalipeeth flour, home grown raddish, raw bananas, mustard greens and what not...and both of them said "Come back as our daughter and not as a tourist". They are so large hearted. We feel blessed having met them.

Sunrise from our room..

Our hosts' vegetable garden. They grow all kinds of vegetables and fruits. We saw chickoo, raddish, brinjals, mustard, spinach, etc

Narrow village roads...just a hair's breadth between 2 vehicles...

Market in the village with fresh produce...

We took a ferry from Malwan to reach the Sindhudurg fort.

Approaching the Sindhudurg fort which was built by my childhood hero Shivaji maharaj, on the ‘Kurte' island...I remember our History teacher narrating tales of Shivaji almost bringing him to life with her narration. I would open the text book only to discover that the details that she gave were her own research and none of it was in the text book!!

It took 500 stone splitters and stonebreakers, 200 blacksmiths, 3000 laborers and hundreds of skilled artists who toiled very hard to complete this fort in a short span of three years.

The floor of the entrance....

The main entrance is concealed in such a way that no one can spot it from outside. At a time when Samudra Gaman (travelling by sea) was banned by scriptures, this construction on an island represents the revolutionary mindset of its engineer.

The zigzag pattern of outer wall was built so that the enemy would be visible from any point inside the fort and the troops inside could fire their guns and cannons effectively.

The ancient Hanuman temple at the entrance....

One of the best preserved forts of the Marathas, the 48 acre Sindhudurg fort has a four kms long zigzag line of 9 meters high and 3 meters wide rampart with 42 bastions.

 Inside the fort there are three wells for drinking water, which is a nature’s marvel as the sea surrounds the fort on all four sides.

Inside the fort....

The massive walls were designed to serve as a deterrent to approaching enemies and to the waves and tides of the Arabian Sea.

From where Shivaji's army scanned the seas for enemies..

Shivaji's hand print cast and preserved in limestone. I was surprised that it's just a little bigger than my own palm!! Inside the fort there is also the only temple dedicated to Shivaji, where he is worshipped as the deity. On display is the first sword used by Shivaji, an 'ekdhari' (sharpened only on one side), and measuring 4 feet. The handle was intricately
carved. Photography was prohibited inside.

The steps were very steep. May be Shivaji's men were very tall!

The foundation stones were laid down firmly in molten lead and were tested by putting them in boiling water to check for endurance.

On the way to the fort, there was brisk business even on the water..!!

We had finger-lickng awesome Malwani food at our home-stay. Too bad that we are vegetarians as sea food is the actual Malwani speciality.

We were treated to sumptuous Malwani food which we devoured admiring the garden as the birds chirped away!

Next day we went to the Tarkarli beach- exactly my kind of beach...with no people around..!!

Can you spot the little crab?

Apparatus to break coconuts like a pro...

I thought it's better for me to draw something in the comments book, because the hosts would have a hard time deciphering my handwriting.

We returned home at sunset...

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