The guesthouse where Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray used to stay on his visits to the city has now turned into a pilgrimage spot for various political party workers and other people.
Guesthouse owner Agasti Kanitkar said that since the demise of Thackeray, party workers and ordinary residents of the city who could not fulfil their wish to meet Thackeray at his residence Matoshree in Mumbai before his death or attend his funeral have been visiting his guesthouse in Samarth Apartment, Mukund Nagar, to pay homage.
Thackeray died on Saturday and lakhs of Shiv Sena workers and admirers attended his funeral in Mumbai. “I couldn't make it to visit Balasaheb in Mumbai and also couldn't attend his funeral and that's why as soon as I heard of his demise I came all the way from Nigadi to Mukund Nagar just to take a glimpse of the guesthouse where he used to stay whenever he came here for nearly 10 years,” Madhuri Godambe, an MNS worker from Yamuna Nagar in Nigadi, said.
Three-time corporator and BJP leader Rajendra Shilimkar said he shared a cordial relationship with the Shiv Sena supremo and had had long chat sessions with Thackeray at the guesthouse.
“The same place is now filled with a void," Shilimkar said. “In 2002, I was contesting the municipal corporation election from Mukund Nagar. When I heard that Balasaheb was in the city, I went to the guesthouse for his blessings. After that I used to visit the house whenever Balasaheb used to come to the city.
However, on Monday when I came here to pay tributes to him, the empty house made me emotional.” Owner Kanitkar said he would never sell the house and preferred to keep it empty in memory of Thackeray.
“Since two days, more than 50 Puneites, including political leaders, have approached me and asked to see the house, particularly the bedroom where Balasaheb used to spend his time reading books or chatting with visitors,” he said.
He said many famous personalities like BJP leader Uma Bharati, Ram Jethmalani and NCP chief Sharad Pawar used to come to meet Thackeray at the guesthouse. “Balasaheb used to visit the city and stay her till the year 2007,” he said.
Kanitkar said the doors of the guesthouse would always remain open for Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and the entire Thackeray family, including MNS chief Raj Thackeray. “Rajsaheb also used to come here and stay along with his uncle,” he said. “This house will always be open for him.”