About Pune...

Pune is one of the historical cities of India with a glorious past, an innovative present and a promising future Pune has been popularly known as Queen of the Deccan, Cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pensioner's paradise and Santanchi Bhoomi or land of the saints as many great saints of Maharashtra had chosen Pune as their Karmabhoomi. If we have a look at Pune history, Pune was known as Punnaka an agricultural settlement in the 8th century. The earliest evidences found from the region reveal that the Rashtrakootas ruled this region during the same period. Later on, the city has been mentioned as Kasba Pune. Pune's medieval roots are also evident in number of temples and mosques. The present name "Pune" is derived from Punya Nagari (land of the sacred). The Pune Gazetteer explains the term Pune as Punya a holy place. In Hindu tradition, a confluence (sangama) of two rivers is sacred. Hence this city where there is a confluence of two rivers is Punyanagari. After the Rashtrakootas, Pune was ruled by the Yadava dynasty. After the fall of this dynasty, it came under Muslim dominance till the middle of the 17th century. The Rashtrakutas are believed to be the earliest rulers of the city. By the 11th century, it developed into a small town called Kasba Pune or Punavadi, under the Mughal rule. The most important period in the history of Pune was the empire of Peshwas. At this time the city became a centre for learning. Pune or Punyanagri as it is called has had a glorious past of nearly 1000 years. Pune’s history is both illustrious and romantic. The city’s historical associations are fast woven with Shivaji Maharaj, the Peshwas and Lokmanya Tilak. It was here, in the Lal Mahal that Shivaji boldly attacked Aurangzeb’s uncle, Shaista Khan and won back the lost territories. Later it was ruled by the Peshwas. When Bajirao-I became the Peshwa, he made Pune the headquarters of the army and the Shaniwar Wada was built, Also Bazaars and shopping plazas, Palaces and ritzy hotels, Temples, mosques, churches and even a synagogue to visit. This sprawling metropolis preserves its ancient forts, ornate palaces, lush gardens, shopping arcades, educational institutions and rolling hills. The Ganapati festival celebrated yearly, called the Pune Festival has made its mark on the tourist map of India. Pune is inextricably linked to the life of the great Maratha hero and king, Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The era of Pune's fame began when Chhatrapati Shivaji came to stay here with his mother Jijabai in 1635-36 A.D. Shivaji and his mother lived in a mansion known as "Lal Mahal," a replica of which still can be visited at its original location in the city. With the emergence of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who founded the Maratha Empire, Pune became known to the Delhi sultanate. Shivaji spent his early childhood in Pune at Lal Mahal, a palace built by his father Shahaji, where Shivaji's mother Jijabai lived for a decade. Dadoji Konddev Shivaji's mentor developed Pune city. He constructed a temple of Ganesha called Kasba Ganapati. This is the grama devata where invitations for all religious functions are first offered be it for a marriage, upanayana ceremony or any other functions. It was in this Lal Mahal that Shivaji attacked the Moghuls and defeated Shahistekhan, the uncle of Aurangazeb. After the death of Shivaji in 1680 A.D. and the cold blooded murder of his son Sambhaji, Aurangazeb named Pune as Muhiyabad. Pune gained importance during the period of the second Peshwa Thorala (senior) Bajirao who ruled from 1720 A.D. to 1740 A.D. The various mahals or buildings were constructed by different Peshwas. There are still remains of a fountain with thousand outlets called Hazari Karanje. It was Thorala Bajirao who expanded the Maratha Empire into north and central provinces. Nanasaheb Peshwa succeeded Thorala Bajirao Peshwa and ruled the Maratha kingdom from 1740 A.D. to 1761 A.D. He tried to control the Nizam and maintained peace. He was instrumental in urbanising Pune city and encouraged the setting up of Peths or wards in Pune. He constructed the famous Parvati Temple complex, a pride of Pune city. He designed a water supply system from Katraj Lake that lies to the south of Pune city. A number of temples and palaces were constructed during his time. Due to some misunderstandings in the family that ensued thereafter, the Maratha power came to an end in 1818 A.D., when the British led by Mount Stuart Elphinstone defeated them and established the British Raj in this region. During this period, the French, the Portuguese and the British powers established contacts with the Peshwas, sent representatives for various functions. Pune and Delhi were the only centres of power during this century. Pune has been recognised as a seat of learning and the Deccan College (1851) led the educational movement in Pune. Tilak, Agarkar, Bhandarkar and other luminaries of the 19th century studied in the Deccan College. They studied in English language, but a literary movement was started by organising the first Marathi literary conference in 1878 A.D. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, V. K. Chiplunkar and others took lead in this sphere of life. Tilak, Agarkar, Nam Joshi and Principal Apte founded the Deccan Education Society and its Fergusson College in 1885 A.D. The New English School (1880), the Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya (1883) and the MES Society's High School (1875) were started. Soon after, a high school for Indian girls was established in 1884 A.D. A new generation of educated Indians started the freedom movement under the leadership of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He started two newspapers, the Maratha in English and the Kesri in Marathi. Through these newspapers, Tilak aroused interest in national education, national language, swadeshi and swarajya the four fold aims for independence. "Swaraj is my birthright" was the slogan given by Tilak to the rest of India. Gopal Krishna Gokhale is another builder of modern India who established the Servants of India Society and represented Indian interests in the imperial legislative council. Mahatma Gandhi considered him his guru. Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve is yet another gem of modern India, who throughout his life fought for the upliftment of women, started a college for them and established the first Indian University for women, named SNDT Women's University. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1958. Senior Wrangler R. P. Paranjape is another luminary from Pune who sacrificed higher salaries and worked as the principal of Fergusson College for over twenty years. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule started education for women and struggled hard for the upliftment of the depressed classes. Shrimati Anandibai Joshi was the first lady to complete medical education in the USA. Thus, we find the origin of various movements - social, religious, educational, political, economic and literary, in Pune city.

The Pune Municipal Corporation administers the city. Its boundaries extend over 400 square kilometres and it has a population of close to four million. Thus Pune city has been developed into a Pune metropolitan area, just equal in area to that of Greater Mumbai. It is located 192 km (by rail) and 160 km (by road) from Mumbai and is 559 meters above the mean sea level. Being surrounded by beautiful hills and the Sinhagad fort, it has a temperate climate. Water, which is plentiful, is supplied to the city from Panshet, Khadakwasla and Varasgaon dams all located about 30 kilometers from Pune. Pune is among the greenest urban areas in the country with more than 40 per cent of its area under green cover. Situated at the convergence of the Mula and Mutha Rivers, Pune is the second largest city of Maharashtra and the 8th largest city of India. Home to many reputed colleges and universities, the city has earned itself the nickname of 'Oxford of the East'. Moreover, it is also been hailed as the 'Automobile City', for housing some of the best automobile manufacturers in India.

Mostly the Peths meaning market place in Pune are named after the days of the week, but some Peths are named after their founders. Let us have a glimpse into the origin of these Peths. Pune was a very small place in ancient times. People stayed around the present Mahatma Phule Mandai and Shaniwar Wada. But as the population started to increase, the boundaries of Pune started expanding. The Eastern Pune or the portion on the other side of the river is known as the old Pune. Recently developed areas are Deccan Gymkhana, Kothrudh, Karve Nagar and Pashan. The first Peth founded was Kasba Peth.

The Eastern Pune is the original Pune, as the city is very ancient therefore it does not look very well planned. The old Pune is divided into various Peths. These Peths were urbanized in different times by different people for some definite purposes. In these Peths the old construction could be seen even now, and the glimpses of the old traditional Pune. There are different reasons for different names given to the Peths.  A typical kind of atmosphere can be experienced in every Peth. People staying in a particular Peth have their own accents and life styles. There used to be a person who was known as a 'Mahajan', he was authorized to establish a particular Peth. He was responsible for providing various facilities to the residents of that Peth like providing Water Supply, Shops, Bazaars, Dharam Shalas and other facilities. He used to set up temples, Market Places, shops etc., the tax from these areas was also been collected by this individual, which he used to pay the Government every year.