Story Title: Punya Nagari - Ancient Pune

By Sakshi Nadkarni
Word Count: 479

Pataleshwar Cave Temple

According to the evidence that was discovered by the Deccan College, Pune; human civilisation existed in Pune as much as 100,000 years ago! Scholars have found stone-age tools on the banks of the River Mutha and some in the Bund Garden area as well.

In pre-historic times, like the rest of the Deccan plateau, Pune is said to have formed a part of the Dandaka forest, which the Ramayana says was inhabited by demons! The Pune region seems to have been important as early as 90 B.C., when King Vedishri made Junnar (40 km. from Pune) the capital of his kingdom.

The recorded history of Pune begins in the 6th century A.D., and is closely associated with the history of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire and with the Peshwas, the Prime Ministers of the Maratha Empire.

Some say that Pune got its name from the temple Punyeshwar. The word may have come from the Sanskrit root 'poo', which means 'to purify'. The Poona Gazetteer (a geographical dictionary) explains that Pune is situated on the confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers. The meeting of two rivers (sangam) is sometimes called 'punya'. Hence the name Pune. The city has also been referred to as 'Punyanagari'. Pune has also been referred to as Punekavadi, Punevadi and Kasabe Pune at different points in history.

Copper plates from 758 A.D. and 768 A.D. show that an agricultural settlement known as 'Punaka Desh' existed at that time, where Pune is today. The plates indicate that this region was ruled by the Rashtrakutas. The Pataleshwar rock-cut temple complex was built during this era.

The temple of Punyeshwara was constructed on the banks of the River Mutha. Saint Namdev (1270-1350) visited this temple. Pune was a part of the Yadav Empire from the 9th century to 1327 A.D. It was later ruled by the Nizamshahi Sultans, until it was conquered by the Mughal Empire.

In 1595, Maloji Bhosale was appointed the Jagirdar (person who collects taxes) of Pune and Supe by the Mughals. His grandson, Shivaji the Great made Pune the first capital of the Maratha Empire. In the 18th Century, Pune became the political centre of the Indian subcontinent.

In 1625, Shahaji Bhosale appointed Bapuji Dhadphale as the administrator of Pune. He was one of the first major developers of the town and constructed Kasba Peth, Somwar Peth & Ravivar Peth. Construction also began at the Lal Mahal Palace, which was completed in 1640.

Shivaji Maharaj was crowned King in 1649, and ensured that Pune developed further. Budhwar Peth was constructed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Baji Rao became Peshwa of the Maratha Empire in 1720. The Peshwas fell into decline after their loss in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.

In fact, many people don't know that a sewage system constructed by the Peshwas is still working in Pune today!


Story Title: Chhatrapati Shivaji

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 577

Chhatrapati Shivaji

Chhatrapati Shivaji was one of India's greatest kings. He is most remembered in history for challenging the Mughal Empire and establishing one of India's most powerful kingdoms.

Chhatrapati Shivaji was born as Shivaji Bhosale around the year 1630 in the fort of Shivneri, which is located near the town of Junnar in the district of Pune. There are a number of versions about his exact date of birth. Even today, his birthday is celebrated on two different days.

Shivaji's parents were Shahaji Bhosale and Jijabai. Shahaji was a general in the service of the Deccan Sultanate and later became the Jagirdar of Bangalore. Since he had to go to Karnataka to look after his jagir, he left Jijabai and Shivaji in Pune, and entrusted his friend Dadoji Kondadev Kulkarni to look after them. At the age of 12, Shivaji went to Bangalore where he was married to Saibai. Though Shivaji married again later, his son, Chhatrapati Sambhaji was born of Saibai.

At the age of 16, Shivaji took control of the Torna fort. Then in 1659, he fought his first major battle: the battle of Pratapgad. The Maratha army was victorious and Shivaji himself killed Afzal Khan, the general of the army of the Sultan of Bijapur. The story goes that Afzal Khan was much bigger than Shivaji. A meeting was arranged between the two to discuss peace but both men had secretly carried weapons. As the two embraced, Afzal Khan tried to kill Shivaji but Shivaji fatally injured Afzal Khan.

After this the Marathas registered a series of victories which eventually led to them being recognized as an independent power. The focus of Shivaji then shifted to the Mughal Empire. His wars with the Mughals and their emperor Aurangzeb began in March 1657. While the Marathas won some battles, the Mughals also won some. When Shivaji needed funds for his army, the Marathas sacked the city of Surat and gained enormous wealth to replenish the Maratha treasury.

Because of this, Aurangzeb sent a massive army to defeat Shivaji under the leadership of Mirza Raja Jai Singh. This Mughal forces captured many forts from the Marathas, and Shivaji was forced to enter into a treaty with Raja Jai Singh. This treaty, called the Treaty of Purandar, was signed in 1665 and as per the treaty, Shivaji had to give up 23 forts and pay the Mughals cash as well. Shivaji also had to allow his son Sambhaji to serve the Mughal Emperor.

In 1666, Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to his capital Agra. But at the court, Aurangzeb made him stand behind the military commanders. This angered Shivaji so much that he walked out of the court in protest; but he was soon arrested. In one of the most daring incidents of his life, Shivaji escaped from Agra disguised as a laborer.

He then launched a campaign to re-conquer the lost territories and recaptured large parts of the territories that had been lost to the Mughals. He also sacked the city of Surat for a second time. In 1674 Shivaji Bhosale was crowned the Chhatrapati (Greatest King) of the Maratha Kingdom.

Shivaji fell ill and died in 1680 but continues to be remembered as a great Indian hero. He changed the art of warfare in India, by starting guerrilla warfare (where small armies can defeat much bigger armies). He also set up a navy. Chhatrapati Shivaji is undoubtedly the most important figure in the history of Pune and Maharashtra.


Story Title: Shivaji's Family

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 549

Shivaji's wife - Saibai

Chhatrapati Shivaji is undoubtedly the most iconic personality in the history of Maharashtra and one of the most iconic in Indian history. Other members of Shivaji's family also played a major role in history, but they are not as well known as Shivaji. While most people know that Shivaji's mother was Jijabai, other personalities of Shivaji's family are hardly known.

Shivaji belonged to the Bhosale family. Shivaji's grandfather was Malojiraje, who served as the Chief Mansubdar in the Ahmednagar Sultanate. He had two sons Shahaji and Sharifji. It is said that he had prayed at the dargah of a Sufi saint named Hazrat Shah Sharif and sought the blessing of having sons. So, when two sons were born to him, he named one after the Sufi saint.

Shahaji Bhosale married Jijabai who was the daughter of Lakhojirao Jadhav. Lakhojirao was a Jagirdar in the court of the Sultans of Daulatabad. Shahaji and Jijabai had two sons, Sambhaji and Shivaji. Sambhaji was the elder son. After a major military defeat, Shahaji decided to send his wife Jijabai and their younger son Shivaji to Pune while the elder son Sambhaji stayed with him in Bangalore. Sambhaji was killed in battle some time later.

Shivaji had many wives. His first wife who was his chief consort was Saibai, who was the daughter of the Raja of Phaltan, who belonged to the Nimbalkar dynasty. Soyarabai was his second wife, she was the younger sister of Maratha army chief, Hambirrao Mohite. Putalibai was another important wife of Shivaji.

Shivaji had two sons, Rajaram and Shambhaji. The eldest son was Sambhaji, he was Shivaji's son from Saibai, but he was considered as unsuitable for the throne due to his improper behavior. Shivaji had him imprisoned in the Panhala fort to try and correct his behavior. However, Sambhaji managed to escape. He later married Yesubai.

Shivaji's second son Rajaram, was his son from Soyrabai. A succession war broke out between the two sons after Shivaji's death. Initially Rajaram, who was 10 years old, was crowned Chhatrapati. However Sambhaji didn't accept him as the leader and escaped from the Panhala fort where he was imprisoned and managed to gain control of the crucial Raigad fort as well. He was then crowned Chhatrapati of the Maratha kingdom.

Sambhaji's reign saw many wars and conflicts and in the end Sambhaji was captured by the Mughal forces and was severely tortured before being executed. After his death, Rajaram was officially crowned Chhatrapati. After his death, the leadership of the Maratha kingdom fell to Tarabai, Rajaram's wife. Tarabai continued the struggle against Mughals and showed great leadership and strategic brilliance in keeping the Marathas strong. Tarabai was in charge from 1700 to 1707.

In 1707 Shivaji's Grandson, Shahu came to the throne. He had been captured by the Mughals at the age of 7 and remained so till the age of 25. He was freed after the death of Aurangzeb. He then challenged the authority of Tarabai and was crowned the Chhatrapati of the Marathas on in 1708.

Under Shahu Maharaj the position of Peshwa came into prominence. It was during his rule that the Maratha empire spread all over India. His successor, Rajaram II was more of a titular head (king in name only) as the Peshwas had the power.


Story Title: Shivaji's Major Battles

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 647

Shivaji in Battle

Shivaji was a revolutionary leader not just because he generated a sense of pride among the Marathas and made them into a major force, but also because he came up with new ways of fighting during war. He pioneered the art of guerilla warfare in India (a type of battle where small armies can defeat bigger armies by catching them by surprise). The Marathas also developed a navy. Here are some of the more important battles fought by Shivaji:

Battle of Pratapgarh:
One of the most famous incidents from Shivaji's life was his fight with Afzal Khan. This fight has become a part of Marathi folklore. The battle (known as the Battle of Pratapgarh) took place in 1659 A.D. The Maratha army won the battle in-spite of their opponents outnumbering them.

Afzal Khan was the leader of the Adilshahi forces. Shivaji was the leader of the Maratha forces. The fort of Pratapgarh is located on top of a hill. The story goes that before the battle, a meeting between Shivaji and Afzal Khan was arranged, to discuss peace, but Afzal Khan had a small dagger hidden in his coat. Shivaji, anticipating the danger, had decided to wear armour and carry a weapon of his own; and he killed Afzal Khan. This led to a Maratha victory.

Battle of Kolhapur:
Another major victory for the Marathas was in the Battle of Kolhapur that took place about one month later in 1659 A.D.; again between the Marathas and the Adilshahi forces led by their Commander, Rustam Zaman. The Marathas emerged victorious in this battle as well, thereby consolidating the gains made from the victory at Pratapgarh and strengthening their position.

Battle of Pavan Khind:
This battle took place in 1660 A.D. at Pavan Khind near the fort of Vishalgad which was close to the city of Kolhapur. Here too, the Marathas were taking on the forces of Adilshah, this time led by Siddi Johar, Siddi Masud and Shaista Khan. The Adilshahi forces had laid a siege to the fort of Panhala where Shivaji was at that time. (A siege is when one army surrounds the city or fort of another army and does not let anything go in or come out.)

The Maratha forces tried to lift the siege but they couldn't succeed. Eventually Shivaji escaped from the fort and reached Vishalgadh fort. After Shivaji got to the Vishalgad fort and the Adilshahi forces attacked the Marathas there, the Marathas won a decisive victory. This was the last major battle between the Marathas and the Adilshahi forces. After this victory the Marathas were recognised as an independent power.

Battle of Umberkhind:
This battle was between the Maratha forces and the Mughal forces led by Kartlab Khan. It took place in 1661 A.D., near the city of Pen in Maharashtra. This was another instance when the Marathas overpowered an army that was greater in number to them. Shivaji had cleverly surrounded the army in the Umberkhind pass and forced them to surrender thereby getting another major victory.

Battle of Surat:
Shivaji attacked the city of Surat with his army in 1664 A.D. The many wars and conflicts that Shivaji's army had fought had used up their money, so they decided to attack Surat, a wealthy city in Gujarat. The city of Surat was part of the Mughal Empire and the city was defended by Inayat Khan. The Mughals were unable to resist the Marathas who succeeded in ransacking the city.

Thus Shivaji, showed not only his bravery, but also strategic brilliance (planning skills). He redefined the art of warfare in India. His military victories also showed that he had capable associates. The Maratha armies always used the geography of the battlefields to their advantage. The forts built by Marathas used to be located on top of hills and were difficult to conquer. Shivaji also created a Maratha Navy.


Story Title: The Peshwas

Word Count: 510

The Peshwa was a designation created by Chhatrapti Shivaji that was equivalent to a modern day Prime Minister. The position was created to ensure effective administration of the Maratha Empire. The idea was that the Chhatrapati (King) was kept too busy by the many battles to expand and protect the Empire, and dedicated attention to administering the Empire could be given by the Peshwa.

Later, the Peshwas became a hereditary position (inherited by the children from their parents). They grew in power and became the rulers of the Maratha Empire from 1749 till 1818.

Moropant Trimbak Pingale was appointed as the first Peshwa by Chhatrapati Shivaji. The first Peshwa belonging to the Bhat family of Shrivardhan in Konkan region was Balaji Vishwanath, who was a good diplomat. One of his important achievements was the creation of the 'Maratha Mandal' or the 'Confederation of Maratha Generals'.

In 1719, Balaji Vishwanath's son Baji Rao I was appointed as Peshwa, which made the position hereditary. Baji Rao I was a brave Peshwa who never lost a single battle in his life. He defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Siddis, and the Portuguese and led the Maratha army into territories right up-to Delhi. During his reign, the Marathas filled the space left open by the death of Aurangzeb. Baji Rao built the Shaniwarwada in 1746, thereby shifting the residence and headquarters of Peshwas totally to Pune.

Baji Rao's son Balaji Bajirao (also known as Nanasaheb Peshwa) was the one who expanded the boundaries of Maratha Kingdom to the North-West, East and Central India. The Marathas lost the third battle of Panipat during his reign, which was a big blow to the Empire. After his death, Madhav Rao I defeated the traditional enemy of the Marathas, the Nizam. He also revived the relationship of the Marathas with the members of Maratha Mandal.

The death of Madhav Rao I led to instability in Pune. His younger brother Narayan Rao succeeded him, but was assassinated (killed) on the orders of his uncle Raghunath Rao. Raghunath Rao, (also known as Raghoba Dada) was responsible for expanding the Maratha Kingdom right up-to Peshwar. Raghoba Dada was brought down by Nana Phadanvis and then Sawai Madhav Rao came to power. But Sawai Madhav Rao's reign was overshadowed by the dominating Nana Phadanvis. He died under mysterious conditions where some people think that he committed suicide.

The reign of Peshwa Bajirao II saw the downfall of the Maratha Empire. He signed a treaty with the British forces in his territory, thus losing his powers to the British. The adopted son of Bajirao II, Nanasaheb II, the 'nominal' Peshwa (Peshwa without any power), tried to revive his kingdom with the help of a minister, Tatya Tope. He participated in the National uprising of 1857 along with other leaders in the country, but then he mysteriously disappeared.

The reign of the Peswas were the glory days of the city of Pune. The Peshwas were good administrators who built numerous building & parks, many of which still stand today. Shaniwarwada was their palace. In fact, parts of the water supply system implemented by the Peshwas are still running today!


Story Title: Pune under British Rule

By Eric Dastoor
Word Count: 510

Over the centuries, Pune has survived the dominance of different rulers from several noted dynasties. Pune was under British rule for a long time. The British took over the city of Pune in 1818. Pune, under the British, saw a lot of development as a city. Pune also gained importance as a centre for education during the British rule, and continues to do so.

The Maratha Empire came to an end in 1818 and after that the city of Pune was placed under the Bombay Presidency (a state). The city became central to the development of ammunition and firearms. During their reign, the British set up an extensive ammunition factory which still exists and is now used by the Indian Army. The first college in Pune was the Deccan College, which was established in 1821. It still runs today.

The Municipality of Pune was set up in 1858 and only saw its first elected officials in 1883. Five years after the first train ran in India, Pune was connected to Khandala by rail, in 1848. The British went on to establish a number of Peths: Ganj Peth (now known as Mahatma Phule Peth) and Navi Peth. The Deccan Education Society was set up in 1880 which led to the establishment of Fergusson College in 1885.

At the turn of the century, the Deccan Gymkhana Club was set up in 1906. Electricity first came into the city in 1910 which then lead to the establishment of Napier Cinema, Pune's first Cinema Hall. It ran silent movies till 1931, after which it became 'talkies'. This Cinema hall is still popular in Pune. (It is now called Westend Talkies). In 1933, Prabhat Studio was moved to Pune. It was the most sophisticated studio in Asia at the time. Today, Prabhat Studio it is the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

The Pune Railway Station was built in 1920 and 'The Deccan Queen' was inaugurated as the fastest train in India. (It traveled from Mumbai to Pune in less than 3 hours.)

Many of our freedom fighters were educated in Pune colleges. During the struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned at the Yerwada Central Jail several times. In between 1942 - 1944, he spent his sentence of House arrest at the Aga Khan Palace which today is a museum which people can walk through and see how the man lived.

The most visible aspects of British rule that they left behind are the buildings of the time - the good old English bungalows, with their verandahs (long corridors on the outside of a bungalow that give protection from the sun). Most of them are to be seen in Pune Cantonment and Khadki Cantonment. Empress Garden, named after the then Queen of England, is even today a popular picnic spot. The Khadakwasla dam, so important for our water supply was built by the British.

And, yes, the sport of badminton was first played in British Poona, and for many years the game was actually called 'Poona', until some (not so bright) spark named it badminton!