I was privileged to be born into a family of history lovers. Otherwise, the beautiful Parvati hill that my home looks onto would have meant nothing more to me than what it is to most Punekars living in this area — a checkpoint for regular, long and solitary walks.
Even as a kid, I was always fascinated by this tall, majestic structure that was only a stone’s throw from my house. Luckily, my parents never brushed off my childlike queries surrounding its history, and with every visit to Parvati, I was laden with tonnes of trivia.
|Mrinal Kulkarni stands against the backdrop of Parvati Hill that has
not been ‘developed’ yet
I would also intently absorb all the historical references and stories about this beloved retreat of mine narrated to me by the noted historian, writer and theatre personality Shivshahir Babasaheb Purandare, who has practically been a neighbour.
He told me about the Peshwa dynasty who were ruling Pune during the era it was built and Nanasaheb Peshwa, under whose aegis the construction was completed and the many myths and tales revolving around the origin of the quaint, pretty little temple situated atop the hillock.
A quick trek up the 103-odd stone steps was an indispensable part of the daily exercise regimen that I faithfully followed during my growing years. The steps are rather wide and have large spaces between each other, so the workout would end up being pretty arduous.
But the breathtaking aerial view of the whole of Pune lying in the offing would keep me going and all my weariness would vanish once I reached the top. That feeling is inexplicable — when you breathe in the fresh air, take in the invigorating scent of wet grass and eucalyptus.
There’s a continuous gentle breeze, and then you savour a panoramic picture of your city laid before you on a platter! After that divine experience seeped in, it would also be a pleasure to look at the portraits of the historical figures that I had heard so many interesting stories about.
I would even take short nighttime hikes up there — yes, Pune was that safe back then! I remember how classy Parvati would look in the dark, all lit up and radiant!
Later, during my college days, Parvati became a secret meeting spot for me and my husband, or then-boyfriend Ruchir. We would furtively leave our houses, telling our families we were going out for a morning walk, and then hang out on Parvati!
Today, my in-laws’ residence is in Mitramandal Colony — again, a brisk walk away from Parvati. I think it’s grown to be my own, personal guiding light. Even today, I can’t help gazing at it in awe whenever I pass by this half-grey, half-lush green structure.
With most ancient wadas and houses in the city crumbling away due to neglect or being replaced by newer constructions, I believe Parvati is one structure that has managed to retain the quintessential old-world charm that Pune was once famous for. This holds true for the entire Parvati area.
The old eateries here like Relax and Annapurna, are places that locals throng to even now. They haven’t yet been replaced by fancy fine-diners, and the humble Neelayam is still the only theatre available to catch the latest releases! It’s almost like this part of the city is still trapped in a bygone era!
Parvati, especially, is just one of the few surviving traces of our city’s roots. It is also a symbol of our rich heritage — a rock-solid, long-standing reminder of our glorious past.
It may be slowly getting encroached by slums today, but it is one hillock that nobody has dared to touch for any ‘development’ work yet. I think the reason behind this is that it inspires a natural awe and admiration. Parvati may be 250 years old but it still commands immense respect, and continues to stand tall with a self-assured vanity and pride in the midst of a fast-growing metro.
Is a Pune -based actor, who has starred in Hindi and Marathi films and television serials. She talks about growing up in Parvati where nothing much has changed, just like the hilltop heritage structure
► I believe Parvati is one structure that has managed to retain the quintessential old-world charm that Pune was once famous for