Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vishwambaug Wada, Pune : A Photo Feature

Vishrambaug Wada was an luxury residence constructed for himself by Peshwa Bajirao II , around 1811.
Note: As per some sources the mansion was constructed on a land (Moti bagh) given as dowry (16.2.1797) by Bajirao IIs father in law  Sardar Dajiba Phadke (his daughter Sau. Radhabai was married to Bajirao II).

Then, it was supposed to be outside city limits, but the ever expanding Pune city has encompassed the mansion in its midst. It is currently located in what is now known as Sadashiv Peth, at an intersection of Laxmi Road and Bajirao Road. 

The mansion was said to have a beautifull garden around it. This garden was said to have been maintained by an gardner called Vishram after whom the mansion derived its name. ‘Vishram’ otherwise also means ‘rest’ and ‘Vishrambaug wada’ was aptly called the ‘resting place’.

Vishrambaug wada is a three storeyed building, which after the Peshwa era was used as a jail by the British and later converted into a Government office. From 1930-1958, it housed the offices of the Pune Municipal Corporation. The building was once torched by the firebrand revolutionary Vasudev Balwant Phadake, but was later renovated and put to use. Since the last five decades, the structure has been converted into a General Post office and also a Government Library. The frontal section thankfully was converted into a room for display of the Peshwai lifestyle. The work was apparently carried out by the famed historian Babasaheb Purandare.

The edifice is adorned with some beautifull teak work in the form of ceiling, lintel,beams,pillars,arches etc.

The porch below on the ground floor also has beautifull columns and serves as a rest room for the passerbys.

The entrance has a beautifull arch and an equally beautifull carved ceiling. One is led into an open courtyard surrounded by its various structures. 

A carved staircase leads one to the upper floor, which is the dewankhana . It often hosts periodic exhibitions (Punavdi te Punyanagari) displaying portraits, information about the Maratha era etc, and a general history of the journey of Pune city from being a small village called Punavdi to what is now called as Punya nagari (Pious city) or Pune.

The hall is decorated with yellow forded curtains and there is a gaadi placed depicting the seat of the Peshwas right below a statue of Lord Ganesha.

The ceiling is intricately designed and has period chandeliers. There are suru (cypress tree) trunk shaped with banana flower embellishments.

The floor is made like a mosaic having an elephant figure created by several smaller painted tile chips.

The balcony is especially beautiful and reminds one of ‘Meghdambari’ the intricately carved wooden cusp shaped umbrella adorning the throne of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The balcony is surrounded by an arcade of cusped windows (which seemed very much in need of repairs).

The balcony is supported by a Vyaal shaped buttress, and represents the fa├žade of the wada.

Vishrambaug Wada is an excellent example of Peshwa kaalin architecture. But unfortunately it has fallen a victim to the apathy of the authorities and the dust and pollution of Pune traffic.  The wada is in desperate need of renovation. Many of its windows have broken down and the entire building is in need of immediate repairs. 

It has therefore become very imperative to preserve this great remnant of our heritage. 

Text and Photographs : Abhijit Rajadhyaksha

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