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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stone Age to Shivaji empire and beyond: Book seeks to capture Pune’s storied past

Punyakatha: Pune’s Story of a Million Years is a coffee table book-cum-family encyclopaedia on the historical city of Pune, marking its transition from a Stone Age settlement to a reputed cultural, educational and economic hub

Written by Dipanita Nath | Pune |
August 23, 2021 2:30:39 pm
Stone Age to Shivaji empire and beyond: Book seeks to capture Pune’s storied pastA 225-page coffee table book, Punyakatha is meant for readers between nine and 90. (Express Photo)

From ostriches and hippopotamuses running wild to Roman traders passing through its bustling landscape, a book by Heritage India, titled Punyakatha: Pune’s Story of a Million Years, is attempting to capture the city’s storied past through the eyes of protagonists from a bygone era.

“I have been listening and studying a lot about Pune and have worked with heritage for several years. I have become convinced that most people, who live in Pune, have a very sketchy idea of what the city stands for. Pune has survived thousands of years and contributed a lot at the national level. The aim of the book is to make the people aware of their roots, identity and belonging,” says Manjiri Khandekar, who has conceptualised and edited the book.

A 225-page coffee table book, Punyakatha is meant for readers between nine and 90. The book is split into eight chapters, beginning with the pre-history and protohistory of Pune and the Satavahanas era, of which there are several inscriptions that reveal that Greeks and Romans came to Pune and contributed to the economy, to 800 years of various dynasties that ruled the city.

Pune of 2021 is about the environment of the city. “The narrative is structured as a trip taken by children on a time machine. In every era, they meet a protagonist, such as an aadi manav from pre-history, a mawla during the Shivaji era and a freedom fighter during the struggle for independence, who converses with the children about the time. There is more serious information given in boxes because everything cannot be put in conversations.

We talk about the economy and trade and a variety of cultures more elaborately. We have also covered a lot of aspects of history, politics to art and architecture,” says Khandekar, who spent four years working on the book.

The text has been contributed by an array of scholars, with a core team of Dr G B Deglurkar, Prof P K Ghanekar, Dr Ajit Apte and Dr Manjiri Bhalerao. It has been written by Kalyani Sardesai and enriched with more than 1000 illustrations, photographs and designs by Sunil Gokarn, Tejas Modak and Anant Dere. “The book is designed in a. way that families can explore together. Else, how will we take this city into the future? The future should not be about children looking towards the West and wanting to fly away,” says Khandekar.

The book, priced at Rs 2,000, is available at a 25 percent discount on pre-booking till October 1.

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