When you walk into the Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal in Sadashiv Peth, quite strangely, you’ll feel peace similar to that of the kind some temples provide.
Cool stone walls erected over a hundred years ago, high ceilings and large, airy rooms stored with historic books and documents, containing staggering amounts of information on bygone eras.
I was here to meet a highly trusted and respected historian of Pune, Mr. Mandar Lawate, who’s also one of the Trustees of the Mandal.
To be quite honest, initially, I didn’t quite know what, exactly, I wanted to converse about with him. And, not surprisingly, once we commenced our meet, I realised that the man has an astoundingly immense and in-depth historic knowledge of Pune city; this definitely wasn’t going to be the last time I saw him.
You could get history lessons from him the likes of which no educational institution can provide. Not only is he an authority on history, he’s also an expert on the Modi script. In fact, he teaches the script at the Mandal and you can go learn from him for a negligible fee!
I’ll write more on what I learnt from him about Pune in articles to come; rest assured the information will leave you dumbfounded, as it did me.
The Mandal, as it’s referred to by a lot of locals, was founded in 1910 by historian Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade and Sardar K. C. Mehendale at the latter’s palace located in Appa Balwant Chowk.
The reason for its foundation was to basically store and easily provide material for historic research, motivating researchers and historians to, well, keep digging (pun intended).
Although the organisation has done tremendous work, it’s gotten very little attention for it. In fact, I’m told that just the upkeep of the place alone would cost up to over a Crore, which the board has been trying extremely hard to raise via government funding.
Currently, the Mandal holds over 1,500,000 historical documents and 30,000 scripts, mainly in Marathi, Modi, Persian, Portuguese and English. Moreover, it has also preserved over 4,000 ancient coins and a few astonishingly well-maintained sculptures and inscriptions in its in-house museum.
The library here houses over 27,000 books and are available for free reading, although you can also borrow them for a very small fee!
Whether you’re a history student, seasoned historian and/or researcher, I urge you to visit the Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal in Sadashiv Peth. You really never know what you’ll get your restless hands on. Even if history is a subject you’re not interested in at all, just spend some time there to experience how peaceful it is, just like in some temples.