Pune -> Sinhgad -> Pune -> Lavasa -> Ajanta -> Ellora -> Aurangabad ->Mumbai
Continued from here
We were up early for the part of the Pune trip I was most eager about, the heritage walk. We got to the location at 7 am and headed off with a small group, 2 locals, one American and the 2 of us being guided by a Dr.Ajit Apte. And how wondrous it was. Some highlights of what we learned
- Mihrab : An ornamental indentation in the wall of a mosque, which marks the direction of the mecca. Mihrabs vary in size and color but are usually shaped like a doorway and decorated with tiles and calligraphy to make it stand out.
- Ganesh patti or Kumbha patti : A wooden strip on the top of the entrance door to the house, that would either have a Ganesh or a kumbha design (coconut and betel leaves in a small pot) was carved out as a sign of auspiciousness
- The grills in a couple of homes had the bust of Shivaji or Queen Victoria as part of the design.
- Shaniwarwada : was where the kings resided, there were other areas for the commoners(done up in Agra style) and comb makers. It had walls of 2-8ft thickness and stairs within the walls themselves.
- Kasba Ganapati temple : The male deity of the town and the first idol immersed during visarjan in Pune. Also, it’s considered auspicious to give the first wedding invite to the temple here.
- Lal Mahal : We saw the gate closed and sighed in disappointment seeing the working hours of the place. Our guide, however, tweaked the gates to open them up! Though the building is a reconstruction atop the original structure that was there, the place itself holds great value for being the location of one of the the greatest commando attacks in the history of the world. The attack on Shaista Khan by Shivaji with a troupe of 2000 that wilted down to 50 as stages of the attack progressed made for a gripping tale.
- Shaniwarwada : Arguably the most popular with 5 gates. Spikes added on the door to prevent elephants who were then used to crash it open. The sun and moon symbols on it to indicate the longevity of the empire.
- Origin of the surnames Fadnavis : clerk/officer in charge and Peshwa : Chief minister. We also learnt of the popular Nana Fadnavis who handled all the affairs of the Peshwas.
- Shizam wood and Burma teak used for construction still resist termites and decay because of its oil secretions.
- Nana Wada : A night school for the underprivileged and a day school run in the premises of a historical building made my day.
- Baji Rao: the only unbeaten general.
- Bhausaheb Rangari : I’d heard of the story of the Ganesha festival being used to unite people and bring the masses into the fold of the freedom struggle. But hadn’t heard before of this gentleman whose home was the start of this. He was a renowned doctor of repute and the most memorable part of the walk was the door to his house, that could be unlocked from inside and from outside without a key and I was the proud person of the group to figure out the latch. This was to allow escaping freedom fighters to enter quickly and evade the police.
- Tambdi Jogeshwari : the temple that housed the female town deity and protector. It was also the 2nd location that got the privilege of visarjan of Ganapati.
- Bhide wada : My personal favourite historical place on the walk was a non-descript location that was the first place in the region where girls were educated by a native person. Near it was also the first library for the vernacular (Marathi) language.
- Mahatma Phule Mandai : was the vegetable and fruit mandi ironically named after the person who opposed its construction with public money.
- The Sree Ram mandir in Tulsibaug with monkeys sculpted all over. The Nagarkhana housed a traditional musical instrument called Chaughada that is played every day. Both are located next to the Laxmi road that was the commercial street of Pune since days of yore.
- Vishrambagh wada where we ended our walk was a pleasant place where people would come to be entertained with music or dance. It had beautiful lamps all over the ceiling.
On the guide’s recommendation, we had our breakfast at the popular place ‘Sri Misal’ after a wait in a mercifully quick moving queue. We got back to our car for the rest of the day and headed to the other spectrum of time at Lavasa, the modern private hill city.
The drive was beautiful all through the way once we crossed the city’s traffic that refused to let us leave comparisons with Bangalore aside. We sat down by the lake we passed by just after the toll to relax a while and enjoy the pleasant breeze and view the surrounding hills.
A little further and we reached the planned township. Built surrounding a water source, we headed straight to the promenade for a heavy meal after which we strolled around the area. It was a nice place to explore on foot/on hired cycles and had options for water sports.
What I’d enjoy the most, however, was just sitting by the water on a bench and reading or gazing into the landscape. We left there and got to the hotel after returning the car later that evening.