Within a month of being listed as a heritage structure by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the 250-year-old Vinchurkar Wada has been razed to the ground, to be replaced by a modern five-storied commercial-cum-residential complex.
Civic officials now say they had no objections to the wada being brought down as, after including it on its heritage list, they decided that it has no archaeological value. Built by Sardar Vinchurkar,who served in the Peshwa Darbar, the wada located on Kumthekar Road, has two significant historical associations.
It was where Lokmanya Tilak launched his newspaper Kesari in 1881 and, more importantly, it was the venue for the city’s first community Ganeshotsav celebrations in 1894. The wada was sold to construction firm Paranjape Schemes in mid-2011, as reported by this newspaper.
The structure was added to the civic body’s list of heritage structures after the sale, coming in at No 83 on the list of 85 Grade-III structures. However, civic officials now say that the structure was important by association, rather than having archaeological value.
• Construction has already begun on the 1,783 sq m area where the wada used to stand. The far corner (top, circled) is where the city’s first community Ganpati puja was held
Shyam Dhawale, executive engineer and in-charge of PMC’s heritage cell said, “The wada is indeed included on the list of heritage structures. However, before permission for re-development was given, a committee formed of heritage cell members visited the wada and inspected it.
It was found that the wada has no archaeological value. Rather, it is simply associated with historical figures and events. Therefore, the committee took a unanimous decision to approve the re-development of the property.
|The wada had fallen into disrepair over the past few years
However, this will take place on the condition that the new construction will include a gallery showcasing the history of the wada and Lokmanya Tilak.” In their letter dated November 8, 2011, the committee said, “It is a British-era structure, built of stone.
While re-developing, it would be better to use the same architectural style on the front and retain the same elevation of structure as the old construction.”
BJ Yelikar, conservation assistant, Archeological Survey of India (ASI), said, “If PMC has included the wada on their heritage list, they should have preserved it and not given permission to demolish it completely.
However, it is the local body’s decision and it is their list.” Shashank Paranjape, director, Paranjape Schemes said, “We have taken permission from PMC and have already started construction.
In keeping with the conditions of the agreement, we plan to tell the history of the wada through audio-visual displays and have also given 250 sq ft of area to the Ganpati mandal.” The Tilak family however, has accepted the demise of the wada.
Dipak Tilak, greatgrandson of Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak said, “Lokmanya Tilak was a tenant in Vinchurkar wada till 1903, when he bought Kesari wada. During his stay at Vinchurkar wada, Swami Vivekananda had stayed with him for some time.
In 1894, Tilak started the Ganpati festival in Vinchurkar wada, which is why it is special for the family.” However, Dipak felt that since Vinchurkar wada has not been in good shape of late, it was necessary to bring it down.
“I just hope Lokmanya Tilak’s memorial is developed as promised and that the historic look of the wada is recreated in the new construction,” he added.
History of the wada
Built by Sardar Vinchurkar, who served in the Peshwa Darbar, Vinchurkar wada was witness to the country’s Independence struggle.
Kesari, the newspaper edited by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was launched at the wada in January 1881. The city’s first community Ganpati puja was also performed at the wada in 1894.
During Tilak’s days of residence at the wada as a tenant, Swami Vivekananda came and stayed with him. Over the past few years however, the wada had fallen into disrepair