PUNE UNDER VARIOUS RULERS
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The origin of the city ‘PUNE’ takes us back to the era of 758 AD and 768 AD. Some sort of proof has been found such as the copper plates which tell us that Rashtrakootas ruled the Pune region at that time. The name PUNE has originated from the Marathi word ‘punya’ meaning a holy place. It is the cultural capital of Maratha people. Earlier it was called as Poona. Presently, it the second largest city in Maharashtra. Now, due to the presence of several prestigious educational institutions Pune is also called as the ‘Oxford of the East’. The city is very well known for its manufacturing and automobiles industry. It has a very strong economic base which is why the industries still strive to grow.
Pune has a very interesting history. Several kings ruled the city. But there were mainly three rules that glorified the city and made it well known. With the rise of Maratha Empire ( Shivaji) the city got popular. After this the Peshwas ruled for a long period of time. During their monarch the city witnessed so many social and cultural changes. Then came the British rule. During their rule modern developments happened such as Municipal Corporation established, several educational institutions were opened and industries grew.
This thesis mainly discusses various aspects such as social, cultural, political, and economical rather than sticking to a particular one aspect. The main reason behind this is, Pune as a city has gone through so many things and so the history is very complex. In order to understand the history various factors need to be looked upon.
PUNE UNDER SHIVAJI RULE (1674 – 1680)
Shivaji also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was an Indian emperor. He was born in 1627 in Shivneri fort which is now situated in Pune district. As the past suggests he was a great political and military genius, a great visionary who crowned himself as the king of Maratha in 1674. It was then in seventeenth century that Maratha in Pune got independence under the guidance of Shivaji Maharaj. As far as Pune is concerned it was developed by his mentor Dadaji Kondev. Pune became known to Delhi Sultanate with the emergence of Shivaji Maharaj. It was in Lal Mahal, Pune that Shivaji attacked the Moghuls and defeated Shahistekhan (uncle of Aurangzeb). But his major breakdown came with the battle of Pratapgarh which was against Afzal Khan which made him the champion of Marathas overnight. After the death of Shivaji, the cruel policies of Aurangzeb forced the Marathas to declare the Maratha war of independence which led to the concentration of power in the hands of Peshwas who lived in Pune and increased the Maratha power day after day. By the time Shivaji’s career was about to descend he captured 360 forts, including Kondana (Sinhagad) which is situated in Pune.
However, Pune reached its peak in the golden era of Shivaji. It went under various cultural, architectural, economical, political developments.
ECONOMY UNDER MARATHA
Pune was earlier a small and a casual town which came under cold blooded attacks from Nizamshahi, Adilshahi and Mughal rulers from time to time. On one instance it was implicitly destroyed by Adilshahi attack where psychological, economical, and overall administrative fabric of Pune was destroyed, physically as well as spiritually. However Jijabai, the mother of Shivaji Maharaj decided to get the city into its proper shape. With the help of close intimate and well experienced administrator ‘Dadoji Kondev’, she fortunately managed to uplift the city. The economic development of the city was kick started by making propitious beginning when Kasba Peth Ganpati Mandir was revived and the concerned idol placed traditional glory. After this the economic structure started developing at a faster pace. It is often asserted that the powerful administration of DadojiKondev and the influential personality of Jijabai helped in reinstallation of Maratha pride. And later the Shivaji rule provided a sense of security which in return offered a conductive atmosphere for economic development in those days in Pune.
400 -500 years before Shivaji ruled, Marathi language in mainstream livelihood was integrated in Pune. The saints introduced Varkari Sampradaya and devotion to Gods through poetry and Abhangas. With Brahmins having power and influence over the society with their Sanskrit and Marathi skills the society was transitioned from Sanskrit and mixed lingual. Saint Gyaneshwara translated Bhagwad Geeta to the common people in Marathi . Then at that time people had the freedom to choose their religion. Shivaji went a step ahead and set free the power and courage linked with the saintly culture which was declining from Islamic rulers. But still Marathi was a prosperous language and existed much before the Shivaji rule in Pune. Shivaji’s achievements are exceptional and hence Pune still holds true with the culture it has inherited since.
Apart from the above mentioned cultural aspects, Pune has a very deep history with respect to the forts that were built during the Shivaji rule. Every monument has its own history, glory and importance. Of all the forts, the ones which hold more significance are listed below.
It was built by Shahji Bhosle, father of Shivaji Maharaj in the year 1643 AD. It was built for his wife ( Jijabai) and his son by the time Shivaji captured his first fort (Torna fort) he resided in Lal Mahal. It is basically made with red bricks and there are four umbrellas on the roof top which is a major center of attraction. There is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj in his youth also there is Jaimata’s (Shivaji’s mother) which stands tall. There is also a recreational park for children by the name of Jaimata. Also Shivaji got married to Saibai in the same palace.
It is one of the most famous forts in Pune. The great Maratha leader Shivaji took birth in this fort. The walls of the fort were built very high so as to protect it from the enemies. It was a well known historical military fortification. At the entrance there is this huge statue of Shivaji Maharaj. In the middle of the fort there is a pond located called as the Badami Talab. One needs to cross seven doors to get access of the actual fort. But one interesting thing is a beautiful mosque with two towers connected by an arch.
The establishment of the fort dates back to some 2000 years ago. Many battles have been fought in the fort. There are ancient cravings on the walls. The fort was under the Mughal emperor in 1932, since then there has been fights that were fought very frequently to get control over it because of its prime location. There were only 2 gates built at prime locations for the entrance and the exit. Kalyan Darwaja and Pune Darwaja both sighted the southeastern and northeastern regions respectively. Even though the owners of the fort kept changing, the Marathas were the ones who ruled this fort for a longer period of time. By 1818 the East India Company had a control over India, so the fort had to be surrendered to them.
SHIVAJI AND MARATHA POLITY
The early childhood years of Shivaji were full of wars and scarcity of food in Maharashtra especially in Pune region. Mughal army pursued Shivaji’s father through the Ghats and down to the Konkan and he was also an insurgent from the Mughal service. Shivaji and his mother Jijabai kept on shifting from one fort to another because Shahji’s forces that were reinforced by Bijapur were unsuccessful against the Mughals. Shivaji and his mother were able to settle in Pune only after 1636 when Shahji was forced to go into with Bijapur. The administration of Pune region confirmed by the Bijapur government was best owed to Dadaji Kondev where Shahji was able to get a grant. The rights were divided such that the hereditary rights were given to three villages and also the Deshmukh rights of Indapur , some seventy miles southeast of Pune. Apart from these hereditary rights, Shivaji’s father also held Mokasa of the Pune region. The Mokasa grant was connected particularly in triangular shape to the theNira River on south, the Bhima River on the Northeast and a portion of the Ghats on the west. It almost ran a hundred miles to the east and the west and also to the north and south. Not much about Shivaji’s early life can be determined.
The Pune region was highly affected by the 1630 famine and by the wars and conflicts that lasted for almost two decades. Dadaji Kondev went to develop the jagir and went to repopulate but it was never a tranquil process. In 1644, Shivaji was involved into factional disagreement that resulted into his arrest and segregation of his estates. Two nearby chiefs , the Khopde and the Jedhe Deshmukhs were instructed by Bijapur government to forcibly grab the estates but the order was extracted before it was implemented. During this time the Shivaji surfed the hills around his jagir and took over the hill fort of Sinhagad. Dadaji Kondev died in 1647 and Shivaji took over the administration. His act directly challenged the Bijapur government. Shivaji took the fort of Torna through proper planning and seized the larger treasure he found there. In the next two years he took over the Chakan fort which is near Pune and it guarded northern road into the city. At the same time Shivaji invested the money found in Torna to built new forts five miles east from it, on top of the hill. The fort was named Raigad which served as the capital for over a decade. Since the Bijapuri government was in crisis due to the illness of its ruling king, challenges were quite possible. Shivaji, got struck against rival Maratha families in the same locality and in the same year. Shivaji continued strengthening his father’s jagir. He then won the fort commanders of Indapur and Baramati and more importantly he took over the fort of Purander.
Between 1650 and 1655, Shivaji engaged all the soldiers and the Deshmukhs , fought against the opposition and got control of the Pune region. By defeating more families, he built another fort near Raigad and named it Pratapgarh. He managed eight more passes that travelled through the Desh and to the Konkan coast to the Ghats. By the end of 1659, Shivaji got complete control over the Pune region.
From 1669-1630, Shivaji was attacked from all ways. Shahista Khan (the Mughal emperor) occupied Pune and made it his headquarters. Aurangzeb appointed Raja Jaisingh of Amber after Shivaji looted Ahmednagar and Surat. He made careful military preparations and opened the operation of blockade of Purandhar. Finally, a treaty was concluded at Purandhar after Shivaji had discussion with Jai Singh. By this treaty Shivaji had to give away 23 forts with surrounding territories including Raigarh which produced revenues worth four lakhs per year to the Mughals.
PUNE UNDER PESHWA (1720 – 1818)
Till the Peshwa rule Pune’s economy was not much developed. Pune was made the capital of the Peshwa’s, who were the administrators of Maratha Empire. So, obviously the economic activities and the population increased rapidly. The major economic activity was trade especially the trade of all kinds of luxury goods. However, when Pune came under British rule the growth and well being of the city was highly affected. This was because in 1818 the Peshwa rule descended into failure. By the 1840s, with the establishment of fortress, construction of railway line and post offices the city resuscitated. And the opening of several schools, universities and colleges like the Science College and the Deccan College in 1865 and the Fergusson College in 1885, made the city a center of education. Most importantly, in 1858 the Poona Municipal Corporation was established. Still most of the old industries continue to grow and Pune has had a traditional old – economic base.
It is the most important aspect in our society wherein we study how the lives of people used to be earlier, what all did they suffer and also what type of ill practices prevailed earlier. In the Peshwa rule the backward class people were the mere sufferers and the high caste people enjoyed much power and liberty.
If we study the social culture of Pune especially under the Peshwa rule, we get a clear idea of how inequalities based on birth existed. In the concurrent society, the Bramhins enjoyed a very high position that eventually led to disparities between the people who were Bramhins and those who were not. It should be recognized that the dominant community in Pune during Peshwa rule were all Peasants. The degraded status of the backwards should also be looked upon that prevailed during the Peshwa rule. They forced many oppressive laws and rules that the downtrodden had to abide by, in attaining upward social mobility. One example could be, it is found that when the Marathas and the Peshwas ruled Pune the Mahars were not allowed to enter Pune before 9am in the morning and after 3pm in the afternoon for a very silly reason that their bodies will cast longer shadow during that time and that it will fall on the upper caste people. These people were also told to tie a black thread around their neck so that they can be easily recognized. They were also required to hang a pot around their neck to spit because there spitting on the road would pollute the streets. Also they were deliberately told to wear the clothes of dead bodies, walk barefoot. They were forbidden from entering the temples and hearing the religious hymn. They were made to take part in public duty in such a way that they could not cultivate their own land.
Another remarkable feature of Peshwa rule in Pune was the practice of Sati which was observed during the 19th century. The status of Hindu women was like a slave. She was treated like a product which was meant for enjoyment purposes.
One can easily figure out that in 19th century was completely governed on the basis of caste, creed, religion, and region.
It is often said that your political choices impact your social choices.
Bajirao I made Pune the capital of Peshwa rule. During their rule from 1712-1804, the Peshwa Dynasty took Maratha kingdom to new heights of glory. The effect of Maratha rule was reduced, after the tragic Battle of Panipat in1761. Then their rest of the era was full of family conspiracy and political plotting. The leading role in this was played by Raghunathrao (the younger brother of Nanasaheb) who wanted to have power for which he had to kill his nephews Madhavrao I and Narayanrao I. In the year 1775, the power was exercised by Madhavrao II (son of Narayanrao). Most of the city aristocrats came from the Chitpavan Bramhin Community during the Peshwa rule.
The other event that signifies political agenda of the Peshwas in Pune is The Battle of Koregaon. Two battles were fought one in 1818 and the other one recently on January 1, 2018. The East India Company and the Maratha army of king Bajirao II clashed with each other. The Battle was won by the British and since then the victory is celebrated every year by the mahars (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra). Back in the nineteenth century the British favored the mahars in recruiting them in the military troops. At the Battle of Koregaon, they formed majority in the British contingent. The event of victory of the Mahar majority over the Peshwas (who belonged to the upper caste) has played significant role in raising the dalit pride and imposed a political identity in them.
In my opinion when we talk about culture, the one thing that strikes my mind is the fact that our society reflects our culture. And that we get to know the glorious past of our ancestors through monuments. One such historical monument that holds an important position in the cultural history and tells us about the past is Shaniwar Wada.
It was once the place of great Peshwa rulers. During the rule of Bajirao I the fort became a seat of major political power. It became noticeable so much so that it is now a symbol of the city and its culture till date. In 1827, a fire broke out and destroyed the fort. However the cause of fire is still a mystery. It is basically situated near the Pune railway station. The architecture of the fort tells us about the capability of the Peshwas in the field of town planning. The entire Shaniwarwada is planned so beautifully that it has gardens, fountains, courtyard, offices and residential quarters.
The fire destroyed the whole fort. All we can see now is just outer stonewalls of the fort, small gates and fortification. There are names given to all the gates. The main gate is called as Dilli Darwaja. While other gates are named as Mastani Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja. Still now Shaniwar wada is one amongst the exotic tourist attractions. On the walls, one can see paintings that portrays scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The sixteen petal Lotus shaped fountain at the middle of the fort symbolizes the beautiful and delicate craftsmanship of those times.
COLONIAL RULE (1818 – 1947)
Eventhough the Britishers ruled Pune for quite a long period time, their history cannot be put in terms of social, political, economical and cultural aspects only. The colonial rule has a very different historical perspective. Or in other words, it has history which can be mentioned in the form of educational development, social reform, nationalism and city development as well.
In 1817 the Third-Anglo Maratha war occoured between the Marathas and East India Company. On 5th of November, at the Battle of Khadki the Peshwas got defeated and the Britishers took over the city. As soon as the britishers came into power, Pune became an important political center along with Delhi. Pune was put under the Bombay presidency’s administration. And the british built a large military cantonment to the east of the city.
In 1851, with the establishment of the Deccan College, Pune took a step ahead in becoming the educational hub of India. In the same era there came many social reformers who made improvements in the field of education. For example- Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls (in 1848) in Pune. They also fought against untouchability in 1852.The independence movement was also going on in the same phase.