The Call of the Dying Tekdis of Pune

Anyone who has lived in Pune cannot deny the beauty of the city seen from a tekdi (hill). Tekdis are awesome for those looking for a ‘mini hike’ without worrying about a laborious climb. Tekdis have been the epicenter for friendly get-togethers, yoga enthusiasts, morning walkers, romance seekers (ahem!), photographers, and the like.
Yet, when it comes to saving tekdis, it is always someone else’s job, isn’t it? Be it the beautiful Taljai tekdi, ARAI tekdi, Law college road tekdi, Vetal tekdi–the underlying problem is the same. Humans have ensured to leave ‘footprints of progress’ on these tekdis resulting in a loss of important species of trees, and a decline in the number of birds.
A proposed eco-park at Vetal and Taljai tekdi sent alarm bells ringing amongst Punekars in 2014. While the proposal claimed to ‘improve’ the city with a beautiful garden, citizens and environmental activists emphasized that this can destroy the natural ecosystem of the tekdi. (Any manmade changes require the use of trucks to transport stones and concrete. This step itself leads to the destruction of already existing species of plants and living organisms.)The issues that can follow would be unimaginable.
A couple of years ago, a road was proposed through the Law college tekdi to ‘ease traffic’. Earlier last month, a proposal to cut down 96 old trees for road widening sent shockwaves among Punekars. Trees aged over 100 years were supposed to be replaced with new saplings. (Would that really help?)
While a large number of concerned Puneris have always strived to protect the tekdi and keep it clean, the responsibility lies with everyone. So, why should each one express concern over Pune’s tekdis? Is there a need to convert such areas into manmade parks and nature trails?

tekdi sunrise

The responsibility of caring for the tekdis cannot be forced upon people. The change happens when one understands the underlying problems of urbanization.
These are Pune’s Identity
Think Bengaluru and you think of gardens. Think Pune, and tekdis crop up in the mind. This is Pune’s identity. It cannot be lost for a concrete jungle.Wake up, Punekars!
They are the Lungs of the City
The open spaces on the tekdis support an ecosystem which would be hard to replace once destroyed. The forests on these hills are home to an interesting range of flora and fauna. Currently, endemic species have been on a decline. Environmentalists claim this happens due to unplanned plantation drives. Planting any species of trees (without a sound knowledge) does not balance the ecosystem. With an increasing number in pollution levels, maintaining the natural balance is vital. Trees are the source to the much-needed oxygen.
Tekdis are Money Savers!
You don’t really need to splurge an exorbitant amount on a gym membership. Why spend to exercise in an air-conditioned room when you have a beautiful setting for no cost at all? Nothing can beat the short climb uphill to set the pulse racing while watching the cityscape unfold below.
You don’t want to only Google it
Don’t wait for the day when you need to resort to Google to show your grandchildren what Pune’s tekdis were all about. The cool breeze and views of the bustling Pune city are best experienced when viewed from atop a hill (rather than a gadget).
The fate of any city lies with its inhabitants. Pune’s hills are calling out to us, but are we listening?
Feature Image courtesy:
Image courtesy: stockpicturesforeveryone