Nanasaheb shrine neglect irks Peshwa family
Nanasaheb Peshwa’s samadhi on the Mutha bank is in a state of gross neglect today, covered with dirt and with stray dogs, cattle and drunkards to be found in its vicinity. The sorry state of affairs has prompted the Peshwa’s 14th descendant Uday Peshwa to urge the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to hand the shrine over to the family for its proper maintenance. About a decade ago, the PMC had spent Rs 60 lakh on reviving the Nanasaheb Peshwa samadhi, going in for murals and display of information at the site.
The PMC had roped in architect Avinash Sohoni and well-known mural artist Sanjay Dadarkar for the purpose. Describing Nanasaheb as the ruler who transformed the city into a modern centre of the Maratha Empire, Peshwa said it was sad that the city had now forgotten him. “It is an irony his shrine is in such bad shape, totally neglected by the civic body,” Peshwa said. “Many mural tile paintings and information about the Peshwa ruler has been stolen and broken by anti-social elements, as there is no guard to look after the place. Instead of keeping this place open, the PMC should enclose it and protect its dignity. The Peshwa family’s Devdeveshwar Trust is ready to maintain the shrine if the PMC give us the permission.”
Noted Maratha history scholar Ninad Bedekar also expressed displeasure over the sorry state of the Samadhi. “He was one whose life and work was known to even the people of Afghanistan and Iran in his era,” Bedekar said. “Nanasaheb was honoured with the title of ‘Savior of Hindustan’ by the then Mughal kings in Delhi.” Bedekar said Nanasaheb beautified the city by planting a lot of trees on hills around it and laid roads and bridges. “We should not forget that he made Pune a better place to live in,” Bedekar said.
Conservation architect and member of the PMC Heritage Committee Sarveya Dhongade said “The sad fate of Nanasaheb Peshwa shrine was put before the Heritage Committee meeting for more than 3 times, but unfortunately there was no progress on the issue,” Dhongade said. “Despite the committee suggesting the deputation of a security guard at the place after liquor bottles were found there, nothing happened. We shall certainly pursue the issue with the PMC.”
In her book ‘Glimpses of Pune Heritage - A Mosaic’, veteran heritage research scholar Samita Gupta stated: “Nanasaheb Peshwe constructed the Lakdi Pul (now known as Sambhaji Bridge), probably the first big bridge made with wood, in 1761 to link Kumbhar Ves (Potters’ Gate) on the north of Pune and the old city across Mutha river.” According to Gupta, Nanasaheb’s shrine was built by history scholars to pay tribute to the architect of the city.
Mangesh Dighe, environmental and river project head, PMC, stated: “The Peshwa shrine will be taken care of by us in coordination with other PMC departments, including Heritage and Building and Construction. We shall see to it that the place is not be affected by floodwaters in the rains. History lovers and the PMC have jointly cleaned the place in the past.” Shyam Dhawale, executive engineer, Heritage Cell, was not available for comment.
The 372nd death anniversary of Bajirao Peshwa, the father of Nanasaheb Peshwa, is to be observed by the Peshwa descendants on August 17-18. Mahendra Peshwa, a descendant, said an essay competition on Bajirao Peshwa, a human chain at Shaniwarwada and a pooja at the Nanasaheb shrine are planned on the occasion.