The Pune division of the State Archive Department boasts of a very valuable collection of oldest and rare manuscripts dating back to the Peshwa dynasty and times of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Now, in a first-ever step, talks are on to digitalise the four crore documents in a bid to preserve them and make themavailable to researchers all over the world. As of now, the documents, mostly legal in nature, are wrapped in 39,000 clothbundles.
Anuradha Khanvilkar, Assistant Director of Archive Department, Pune division, said that the Mumbai division has already begun working on the digitalisation process, and Pune division would soon follow suit.
“Around 80 per cent of documents are in Modi script containing certified copies of land and residency records, ancient maps, and alienation office records of the Peshwa dynasty. It’s a haven for researchers who visit the department for research. Many citizens wanting to know about the happenings from that time and information about their ancestors ask for the documents,” said Khanvilkar.
However, manual handling of these rare documents has increased the risk of damage and therefore, the decision to preserve them through digitalisation arose. The work will start in 15 days.
However, digitalisation is not going to be easy, as some documents are very long. “Every document need not be digitalised,” said historian Mandar Lawate. “Some papers don’t have historical importance. It is necessary to digitalise only those papers that are relevant for research.” He added that help from Modi script experts would be taken while digitalising the documents and they should be made available online as soon as possible.
After decline of Peshwa dynasty, British governor Mountstuart Elphinstone took over Peshwa 'daftar' and decided to preserve the documents. Earlier, they were preserved in the Wada of Nana Fadnvis, who was a Minister in the Peshwa administration. However, in 1891, the documents were shifted to the Archive Department established by the British government for preservation of documents.