Okayama Friendship Garden or PuLa Deshpande Udyan on Sinhagad Road. (HT PHOTO)
Okayama Friendship Garden or PuLa Deshpande Udyan on Sinhagad Road. (HT PHOTO)

Pune city was home to 100 gardens during Peshwa era: historian

The Peshwas were fond of gardens or baugs as they called them and there were close to 100 baugs in the city 200 years ago but the concept of baug was nothing similar to what we have now as gardens
By Prachi Bari
UPDATED ON JUN 05, 2021 04:28 PM IST

Researcher and historian Mandar Lawate has found leads and references to prove that the city of Pune was truly a city of gardens. Lawate’s findings in old document writings in ‘Modi Script’ during his research on Peshwas has found that lakhs of trees were planted around the city creating various baugs.

The Peshwas were fond of gardens or baugs as they called them and there were close to 100 baugs in the city 200 years ago but the concept of baug was nothing similar to what we have now as gardens.

“During the rule of the Peshwas, Pune flourished in terms of green cover. Until 1818, there were at least 100 private ‘baugs’ (gardens), but they were unlike the gardens we see today. They were more of fruit bearing trees, flowering plants and food crops. There were no landscaped lawns or carved fountains and manicured trees that we find in gardens today,” said Lawate.

These gardens were found from Shaniwar wada into all four corners of the city as far as Bobdev ghat.

“What we know as Tulsibaug, Hirbaug, Belbaug, Chiman baug, Motibaug are not just names of areas but in the Peshwa era were actual gardens spread over acres of land. Now we identify Sarasbaug as one of the oldest baug created by the Peshwas,”said Lawate.

He found map etchings saved and salvaged by the Britishers from the old records from Shaniwarwada which distinctly show gardens of the city.

It was not just the Peshwas who had the gardens, but Pune then boasted of several Sardars as well as commoners having baugs like Purandares who owned tracts of land, which is now known as Nehru Stadium, or Vasantbaug in Bibwewadi, or the Bunglabaug near SP college.

The Peshwas before coming to Pune were residents of Saswad and they brought with them lots of trees of all kinds which were then planted in the city. It is said that there were 1.5 lakh mango trees planted throughout the city from Mandai to Parvati and beyond.

The second Bajirao although known for all the wrong things also had a green thumb where upon he brought coconut trees from Konkan and planted 25,000 trees in Shaniwar wada area.

“It is indeed a lesson for us to learn why Pune was hailed as green city, although many of the gardens then were private as compared to the gardens which are now public,” said Lawate.

Chandrakant Abhang, a history scholar said that the Peshwes were very particular about the city’s green cover. “There was a rule then too if a tree was cut then two would be planted in its place which is still applicable even today under the tree authority in PMC. That period also gave importance to the conservation and preservation of nature.”

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