TO MAKE the Lal Mahal, childhood home of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, a more attractive tourist destination and a place of inspiration, the Pune Municipal Corporation has proposed to undertake the renovation of the building. One of the biggest changes relates to changing the entrance of the historical structure towards the west direction instead of the present south direction.
The Lal Mahal is among the famous monuments in the city and the present structure is a reconstruction of the original Lal Mahal that was ruined and razed in the 17th century. The structure was reconstructed by PMC 30 years ago. The monument is the childhood home of Shivaji where he stayed with his mother, Jijabai, and a place where the Maratha king had cut off the fingers of Shaista Khan.
The structure — next to the historical Shaniwarwada — has been developed as a memorial, holding a huge collection of paintings recording the significant events in Shivaji’s life, a statue of young Shivaji along with mother Jijabai, soldiers and fibre-made model of Raigad Fort.
In a proposal submitted to the city Mayor seeking renovation of the structure considered as “worthy of worship” by many citizens, the civic administration said the Lal Mahal is a place of reverence for many as the Maratha king spent his childhood here. “It has been an inspirational place for many and tourists in large number visit the place. The Lal Mahal stands to inspire the future generation and it would woo more people if the renovation is undertaken,” it said.
The main entry gate to Lal Mahal is presently from the south direction but it is proposed to be constructed on the west. “The gate at south direction is facing the narrow road which gets congested due to heavy vehicular traffic. The other buildings constructed in Shivaji era have entrance in east or west direction. The forts built by the Maratha king are either facing east or west direction. Thus, the construction of gate on the west direction would be good as it opens on a wider road and would not create a traffic problem,” it said.
There is need for open space after entering the compound of Lal Mahal, the proposal said. “The tourist on entering from the west direction would be able to first see the statue of Shivaji in his childhood days with his mother Jijabai.”
After taking note of the properties built during Shivaji era, it is seen that the main component of the structure during that time was wood and walls made of sand and limestone. The houses had sloped roof, used stones for pillars and safety walls. “The construction of sloped roof at the centre of Lal Mahal building and installing wooden frames and windows would enable a Shivaji-era look to structure from the outside,” a civic officer said, adding, these changes would help in making the structure more attractive and help woo more visitors.
The present artefacts at Lal Mahal includes paintings, statue of Shivaji in his childhood alongwith mother Jijabai, soldiers and fibre made model of Raigad fort. “We think that the displays are insufficient for visitors who want to know more about Shivaji era. If the artefacts are increased, it would pull more tourists and scholars,” it said.
The new displays would be showcasing management, planning system of the Maratha king along with notices, sample of letters, objects like weapons and coins etc. The terrace would be converted into an open gallery where the models and pictures of forts built by Shivaji will be on display.