You have you seen the famous Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati temple. There is hardly a person in Pune who has not visited this place. Rightfully, so.
But do you know what lies across the street from the temple? Its historical significance?
It is an important place, but unfortunately, one that’s not just in a state of disrepair, rather the subject of complete apathy. No amount of anguish on our part can bring out the true state of disregard for this place by the authorities. While this place should be declared a National Monument, it is barely noticed by the local authorities.
So the next time you are praying to Lord Ganesha at the temple across the street, turn around and note that you are near India’s first Girls’ School – Bhide Wada.
With girls education an important issue and one that is being tackled in a positive manner, it is important to preserve the historically important places as they are the beacons of hope and an ode to the struggles that have got us to where we are. The seeds of the professional success that girls enjoy today were sown here. Indeed, we are proud to see them be part of all walks of life from the Armed Forces to corporate life to the Arts, it’s important to not forget the role this school played.
Pre-Independence India was a place where women didn’t enjoy too many rights. While the struggles post Independence have been tough, prior to 1947, it was worse. Child marriage was the norm; girls’ education was not even a passing thought.
The seeds of the professional success that girls enjoy today were sown here.
Thanks to the efforts of social reformers like Savitribai Phule along with Jyotiba Phule and Fatima Sheikh, India’s first ever Girls’ School was set up in Budhwar Peth. The school gets its name from the location and owes a debt of gratitude to Tatyarao Bhide who offered some rooms in his home.
While getting the place was part of the struggle, social norms meant that Phule and Sheikh had to struggle daily. They faced the ire of the conservative residents around but continued to fight through the resistance they faced. With the passage of time, girl education didn’t just become essential, but also the norm.
While Pune has grown to include multiple educational and research institutions, it is important to preserve the heritage of the city. This is a place that offered girls education when it was almost a taboo.
Yes, there are efforts on to bring due recognition to this place. Court cases are on and movements like the “Bhide Wada Bachav Mohim” triggered the cause. We urge authorities to step in and give this location its due. Let us feel proud that the fire for girls’ education was lit right here.
This Teacher’s Day, let’s celebrate the original teachers of girls. The ones who fought for what was their right and stood firm in the face of resistance.
Photo courtesy: Bhide Wada Bachao Mohim FB Page