Battle of Panipat 1761

Battle of Panipat 1761

Monday, February 29, 2016

Raviwar Peth Pune

Raivwar Peth

A walk through the lanes of Raviwar Peth.

Darpana Athale and Vaibhavi Agarwal of Pune Walks, proposed this trip. I was in two minds about going, wondering what architecture we would find there. A mention of structures around 200 years old and I readily signed up for the walk.

Raviwar Peth at first glance is a maze of lanes and by lanes. The deeper you go, the more chances of you getting lost...or so I thought...


Going back into history, Pune was once known as Kasba and the Kasba Peth of today was a residential area, trade was carried out outside the Kasba. With the increase in commerce, traders from different regions came and settled on the outskirts of the kasba. These traders opened their shops and built their houses on top of the shops. Raviwar Peth boasts of being in existence since the 1600's.
The houses they built have a peculiar style. As shown in the photographs below, they are linear, that is they were narrow at the entrance and deep inside.

The shop is on the ground floor. The first floor is a meeting place to conduct business. the second and or third floor is the residence. Most of these structures open on to the road.
The area of Raviwar peth extends towards Shukrawar, Somwar and Budhwar peth. A Peth means a Bazaar or Market. So essentially all these peths are market areas.
Raviwar Peth is a wholesale market. It is divided into many parts. Each part boasts of a different trade. At the end of each part there is a temple almost like a demarcation point for the end and a beginning of a particular trade. Also some ancient masjids are seen here.
Raviwar Peth was known as Malkapur in the 16 and 1700's. Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Shahaji Raje Bhosle, the Peshwa's and the British rule, has added a certain mix of Architecture and the business conducted here.
It is during the Peshwa rule that Raviwar Peth, as it came to be known, thrived as an affluent business centre.
Traders from different communities such as the Bohri's, Marwari's, Gujrathi's, Maharashtrians all came and set up their shops here. Living in perfect harmony, as they still do, we find remnants of their culture in their shops and living styles.
From hardware, Jewellery, Perfumes, Metal ware, Utensils etc. can be seen here. The names of the lanes or galli, in the Peth denote each area. There is Bhandi galli, Sugandhi Katta, Sarafa galli etc.

The Yevlekar and Dantale jewellers have been here since the 1800's. All jewellery in Gold, precious and semi precious stones was hand made. Infact today there is  only one Octogenarian gentleman, Mr. Bahulikar, who still makes hand made jewellery. This art will disappear unless it is revived again soon. Today all jewellery is mostly machine made.

Façades of buildings, some of which retain their original form, crumbling buildings with a few arches that remain intact tell us of the different types of architecture over the passage of time.
Here we find balconies, arches and windows, showcasing, art and architecture of the Mughal, Peshwa, Rajasthani and Colonial eras.

There are canopies and balustrades, intricately worked railings of balconies, in iron, cement and wood, crying out for attention.

Demolition work was being carried out to one of the structures and we could see the brick work, very different from what we see today. The bricks are square with a narrow width.These were known as 'Pustaki Veet', a brick shaped like a hard cover book. One such building had the year 1947 carved on it.


There are façades with a painted clock. Sadly the paint, has started peeling off through the ravages of time.
Most of these buildings today are in a dilapidated condition. With no maintenance and expensive to restore, they are either going to fall down or get demolished. Some of them, like the one shown below fall under the Development Plan of Pune and may be torn down.

New Modern Buildings will take their place. Box like structures with no grace or art will come up. This skyline is already mushrooming and the contrast is stark. Unfortunately in the coming decade these cement blocks will be our heritage.
It is heartening to see that students from VKPS College Of Architecture and MITID Architecture College are documenting these ancient structures for posterity.
The meticulous planning and execution of structures and the lanes of the 17th and 18th C., puts this haphazard and unplanned neo construction to shame. 
It is my personal opinion that each one of us should visit all the lanes and by lanes of our cities. The least we can do is to capture this legacy for the coming generations before it is too late.


Pramod K Yadav said...

Beautifully written and equally well captured through lenses. Superb description enabled me feel as if I saw everything through my own eyes. Appreciate your concern about condition of these buildings and strongly feel urgent need of attention of common people as well as Authorities to protect such precious architecture.

Yatin Tawde said...

Nicely written and well captured. I have written a story on the great Baji Prabhu Deshpande on my blog.