In these rapidly changing times, the labyrinthine bylanes of Pune’s peth areas continue to retain their old city charm. Here’s a peek at some old architectural marvels that have been preserved by their proud owners.
Intricate woodwork of the balcony railings, tinted glass windows that reflect rainbow colours when sunlight falls on them and the longstanding stone-walled wadas that hark back to a historical era- the lanes and bylanes of Pune’s peth areas have all of it.
Since urbanisation and globalisation swept sleepy Pune off its feet to turn it into a city that’s growing by the day, much has changed for this small old town of pensioners. While skyscrapers go up in the city, there’s still a slice of the past that remains rooted in these bylanes.
There’s change happening everywhere, yet there are some proud owners of such century-old or even older properties who are striving to preserve the traditional buildings.Walk down the lanes of the old city and you’ll find such structures and the people who have held them dear for years.
Purushottam Joshi, owner of the Waman Sadan in Shaniwar Peth, is one of them. Wadasare historical architectural forms characterised by stone walls, typical wooden staircases, and the chowk– an open space in the centre attaching one structure to the other. Waman Sadan, where a third generation of the family now resides, was built in early 1900s by Joshi’s father.
An octogenarian himself, Joshi wishes to hold on to his house and along with that, the fond memories of his parents.
“I have grown up in this house. There are so many memories. We have kept the wadain an excellent condition- there’s constant repair work and painting done to keep it in the best state possible. It is a piece of legacy and I wouldn’t want to let go of it just yet,” says Joshi.
He highlights some typical architectural features of the wada like the chowk, the typical kadi–koyanda (the unique bolts) and the four-brick-thick walls that trap the cold inside in the summers and keep it warm in the winters.
There are many such old buildings adjacent to Waman Sadan, but not all have been preserved by choice. Lying within 100 metres of the famous historic monument of Shaniwarwada, there are many constraints on the redevelopment of these wadas. However, there are many who have no complaints about the restrictions. Usha Bhide, owner of the 125-year-old Bhide Wada, says redevelopment is not an option for her.
“We have maintained our wada so well and we will keep it as it is. It’s a small, cosy property and the new buildings lack this homely feel,” she says.
While the likes of Waman Sadan and Bhide Wada still stand tall, there are hundreds that have been torn down across the city either for the purpose of redevelopment or due to safety issues. Skyscrapers are rapidly replacing the spacious single-storied houses, leaving behind little trace of the old times.
A simple stroll across the narrow paths of Shaniwar peth, Kasba peth, Budhwar peth and the adjacent areas reveals a plethora of architectural marvels, some crumbling, some still standing tall. As you drift into the lanes at the cost of getting lost, you find more such interesting buildings that clearly shout out ‘heritage.’ Not only are there wadas, but also multi-storied buildings from the British era that adorn the narrow streets on both sides.
Let’s take a peek into the golden days through this series of photos, and let the nostalgia set in!