Pune’s ‘Heritage Walks’ have upper caste bias, claims film | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Pune’s ‘Heritage Walks’ have upper caste bias, claims film

The Heritage Walks of 90 to 120 minutes take citizens and tourists around the oldest parts of Pune and seek to capture the history, heritage and evolution of the city

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2017 23:20 IST
Prachi Bari
An Intach heritage walk in progress inside the bylanes of the old city of Pune.
An Intach heritage walk in progress inside the bylanes of the old city of Pune.(HT PHOTO)

The popular Pune Heritage Walks originally conducted on the weekends by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), have a deep upper caste bias, according to a film made by a city-based documentary filmmaker.

Gauri Patwardhan’s 51-minute documentary, ‘In a Shadowless Town’, has been selected for screening at the Public Service Broadcasting Trust’s (PSBT) Open Frame film festival at the India International Cenre, Delhi today (September 17).

The Heritage Walks of 90 to 120 minutes take citizens and tourists around the oldest parts of Pune and seek to capture the history, heritage and evolution of the city. Patwardhan’s film looks at how heritage walks in Pune seek to define the history of the city in a narrow mould, exclusive to the upper castes.

When asked by Hindustan Times, Supriya Mahableshwarkar, coordinator, Intach (Pune chapter) said, “Intach walks don’t exactly have a bias, as we try to be inclusive and cover diverse aspects of society and heritage.”

She said that Intach conducts two heritage walks in a month, including customised walks, theme-based walks - like the Ganesha Walk or tree walk, and on-request walks, and some open walks, all of which people can sign on for.

“We do cover diverse aspect of our heritage culture and craft and natural heritage. We begin from Shaniwarwada, but we have also covered Badi darga, close to Shaniwarwada as well as the Kumbharwada.

“We also cover Bhidewada where Savitribai Phule began the oldest school for women,” she says. Patwardhan said no city in India “has such a nauseating, sanitised Brahmin identity as Pune. Perhaps it is so because Brahmins were rulers here for about a century. It is very dramatic here. That also might be the reason why the non-Brahmin movement started in this city. I wanted to bring out the politics behind that sanitisation process.” Recently, Pune witnessed public outrage over a caste-related police compliant filed by a senior central government officer against her cook, for allegedly lying that she belonged to the Brahmin caste. The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) deputy director general (Weather Forecasting) Medha Khole withdrew her complaint after she faced public criticism on the issue. This entire episode showed how caste biases are deep-rooted in the psyche of highly educated people too.

According to Patwardhan, the heritage walks mainly take you through the architectural history of the various Peths created by the Peshwas – the Brahmin ministers, administrators and eventually, the rulers of the Maratha empire. Besides the old wadas, the walks include Mahatma Phule Mandai precinct including the old markets, the Tulshibaug Ram Mandir complex and the Vishrambaugwada, Kasba Peth through Somwar Peth.