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                          Pune's  architecture

In the days gone by, Pune was a paradise of architectural splendour. The wonderful structures still remain, reminding us of their days of glory, but those days are well past them. Due to a lack of sensitivity and care for our past, these structures are now but a pale shadow of their beauty. Virtualpune examines the state of some of them.

The cantonment built by the British constitutes colonial architecture. They have a spacious verandah and a distinctive roof pattern. They were the most efficacious means of 'climate control' available to the British in those days. The portico, verandah, high ceiling and windows shaded by venetian blinds shielded the interiors of the home from the sunrays. Many of these structures were government buildings like the present General Post Office, Council Hall, Controller of Defence Accounts Office and Pune Archives. There are also a number of churches and a synagogue, Lal Deval. The large tower in the College of Engineering Pune is exactly like the one found in Milan in Italy.

Unfortunately though, many of these structures are in danger of being lost forever, especially in the case of wadas. Tenants occupy most of these, and there are only five or six wadas, typical of the Peshwa period remaining today. Many of these were burnt during the British rule. The few wadas that we have today are in a dilapidated condition or on the verge of extinction. If this ignorance continues, the structures are sure to collapse in five to six years.

The environment has a certain heritage value which most politicians, architects and administrators are not aware of. They require conservation. Losing one's heritage is like losing one's memory completely.

The issue of conservation has however received some kind of legitimate platform at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) level in the form of 'Urban Conservation Committee' set up in 1991. It comprises of the representatives of the PMC, state government, historians and members of Indian National Trust for art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Pune. The main function is to recommend steps to be taken for the conservation of old buildings, areas, precincts and artifacts of historical, architectural, aesthetic, and heritage significance.

Some buildings are more important because they are historical, some before they are novel or beautiful. The main problem that people face is the problem of costs, especially in the case of the wadas. Their maintenance costs are very high, therefore a heritage fund is being prepared so that these problems can be taken care of.

There are many people who care about the heritage of Pune, indeed of India. There are also those who have a lot of suggestions as to how to preserve this treasure. What the city really needs are devoted and sincere citizens to lend a helping hand, so that our children may be able to witness the splendour of an era gone by. As we move into the millenium, let us not forget the one before.