“History is nothing but a fable agreed upon” – Anonymous.
The statement has never failed to amuse and appeal to me, partly because I can think of no argument to refute it, and partly because it explains and complicates everything we know about our history as of today.
Pune is essentially a city of history, tradition and lore; we have numerous forts, structures and temples to prove the fact. However, it is also true that over the last few years, some secrets got lost in the passing. Here are a few secrets from the history of Pune that may still be unknown.
The Secret Behind ‘Nal Stop’
One of the most well-known junctions on the streets of Pune, the history behind why it is so named is equally amusing. It is believed that an ancient water supply system existed under the streets of Pune and the last point for that water system to dispense clean, drinking water was the erstwhile Nal Stop. Hence, the name ‘Nal Stop’- the last stop for water to be dispensed in the city.
July 12, 1961
The events of this day changed the course of history and the geography of the city. As Pune slept in the wee hours of July, a storm was brewing elsewhere. The catchment area of the Panshet dam faced heavy rainfall and against better judgement, water was released. The dam could not bear the pressure and burst, causing heavy floods in the city. To give you an idea, the entire first floor of Garware College was submerged; a house on the banks of the River Mutha still shows the level that the water rose to. Most of the city was devastated- areas like Gokhale and Lokmanya Nagar were only set up to rehabilitate people affected by the flood, thus contributing to the map of the city as we know today.
Lakdi Pul – A Work of Hasty Construction
The four-wheeler bridge that we know today is often regarded as one of the finest examples of architecture. The Lakdi Pul was however, hardly a well-thought-out project; it was hastily constructed so that Nanasaheb Peshwas and his troops could return to Pune after suffering a massive defeat at the battle of Panipat.
The Home of Mastani
Mastani- the warrior princess, the courtesan, the concubine, the wife or simply a daughter of the Raja of Bundelkhand. The second wife of Bajirao Peshwa, she is believed to have been maligned only because of her descent. The mother of Bajirao Peshwa – Radha Bai, did not approve of this union and thus, sent Mastani away. The Peshwa constructed a palace for her called Mastani Mahal, which is now the site of the Mrutyunjayeshwar temple in Kothrud. The original palace was torn down and some remains can still be witnessed at the Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum.
The Sarasbaug Ganpati Temple
If you are a true-blue Punekar, you would know that the temple at Sarasbaugh is also called ‘Talyatla Ganpati’. This is because, in the olden days, the Parvati Hill, where the temple stands today, also had a pond which is called ‘Tala’ in Marathi. History has it that many war strategies and planning used to happen in the temple and the boats carrying the Peshwas used to be sailed by African sailors so that they would not pick on the Marathi language being spoken.