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As the Nanawada crumbles...

While the finalization of Pune’s urban heritage list is still pending, despite seven years having passed by, heritage structures in the city are facing utter neglect or are being wiped off from the face of earth, thus burying a part of our rich cultural heritage. A trip to Nanawada revealed the sad fate of this once glorious Wada; despite once being declared a Grade 1 structure by the heritage committee.

Several boards atop the entrance proclaim the place to be different things. One says that it is the Nutan Marathi Private School, the other board states that it is the Karamvir Bhaorao Patil School. Others proclaim it to be the house the Vidya Prasarini Sabha’s Balak Mandir and the General Records office, of the Pune Municipal Corporation. . Sadly, they all miss the single most important fact and relegate it to the corners- that this is Nanawada.

Situated behind Shaniwarwada, next to Vasant theatre, the place where Nanasaheb Phadnis lived and managed the Peshwa’s empire. As you enter this building a sadness fills you. For what else can it be to see a magnificent heritage building rotting at its core?

The majestic balcony with a dome shaped ceiling is almost crumbling. The carved wooden arches,the pillars , the intricate carvings on the ceiling have withstood the ravages of time, pollution, misuse and even modernization. But the rest of the structure is simple lying wasted. Once you enter, on the left is an open space covered with putrid water that one has to negotiate to reach the stairs.

The wooden steps are in such a pathetic condition that there are steps that are missing and the whole thing is so rickety that it actually sways dangerously as you go up. Upstairs, the only thing that has surprisingly remained unspoiled is the carved ceiling. Intricate carvings on the jet-black wooden ceiling are the only pointer that mutely claim in their days of glory.

The floors are covered with dust and in some places have broken down. The rooms below are presently being used as a garbage bin of sorts. Discarded paper, cycles, tin, Mangalore tiles and broken sinks, and so on lie in a heap in a corner. On the front side lives Shatrughana Khandale, the residential watchman and his family. Says he, “I feel proud to live in the building which was once upon a time a prime institution.” He states that the building had what was then called the Kerunana Chattri, which was an observatory to observe the sky and the stars. This chattri was situated above the darbar which now lies locked. Says Khandale, “the reason why the wooden structure has not yet deteriorated is because it was put for a year in linseed oil, then water, and then exposed to the Sun.”With the exception of the lower portion that is used by Khandale, the rest of the Wada is locked. Steep steps lead to the hall upstairs and it is painful to watch the paintings and carvings on the wall outside the darbar rotting. All that is visible is the reddish background with ivory paintings depicting men and horses, all lined by intricate borders. At some time these great paintings have been covered with yellow oil paint.In 1907, the British laid he foundation stone for the building that was built as an extension Nanawada. It was meant for the New English School.

Today this building houses the record office of the PMC, the Nutan Marathi Primary school, the LN Kinkar Night School and a day- care centre for the aged. The house where Nanasaheb lived? That’s being taken care of by time.

 

 



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