Go through the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) records for the last 10 yeas,and the woodwork at the Darbar Hall of Purandare Wada in Kasbapeth figures in the list of 59 Grade II heritage structures. At the site,however,instead of the 350-year old structure stands an apartment complex Surabhi Prestige. There is a shopping centre on the ground floor housing an auto repair workshop,a chemist and a bakery.
Not many in the area seem to remember the old structure that witnessed several remarkable events in the history of Peshwas. Constructed by Ambaji Purandare,the Darbar Hall was the venue of Bajirao Peshwa Is wedding. Mastani,the Rajput-Irani queen of Bajirao also stayed here. Ten years ago,with virtually no support from the civic authority and extensive construction in the nearby areas,the wada was brought down and this building erected. Ironically,the structure still remains in the PMCs heritage list of protected monuments.
In Block A of the apartment,55-year-old Sunil Purandare,the 10th generation of the Purandares,stays with his family. Inside his apartment,one finds remnants of the wada. Old handis (lamps) hanging from the ceiling try to fit into a more modern interior. Several framed black-and-white pictures from the wada adorn the walls. In their own way,these are the familys attempts at preserving bits of the heritage structure.
The decision of pulling down the wada was taken around 1996 after the halls foundation became weak. We were staying here together for years,but were unable to maintain it. There was no support or guidance from the PMC. In all these years we were never contacted. We didnt even know that it still features on the list, says Sunil.
He adds that in 2000,they contacted the PMC and asked for permission to demolish the structure. They had no problem with it, says 86-year-old Pramodini Purandare,who has witnessed the wadas slow decay. The apartment that stands today has occupied the 11,500 ft x 8,500 ft area that the wada was spread on. It was a two-storey wada with four wings in it, she adds.
The PMC is updating its list of heritage structures. Shyam Dhavale,head,heritage cell,PMC,says,If the wada isnt there,it will be removed from the list.