There is pleasure in simple things!
“The Bliss at Aga Khan Palace in Pune!” I totally agree to this phrase until I visited this beautiful place in Pune. With a legacy of more than 125 years, the magnificent Aga Khan Palace in Pune stands as a glorious testament to history, heritage, and architecture. At the same time, its role in the country’s freedom movement places it amongst the most significant landmarks in India’s modern history. The palace had once served as a prison where Mahatma Gandhi and other eminent leaders of the freedom struggle were lodged. Currently, it serves as the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society and is a prime tourist attraction in Pune. I visited this place in one of the evenings during the stay in Pune.
It was Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III, the 48th Imam or spiritual head of the Khoja Ismaili religion and the All-India Muslim League’s (AIML) first president, who built this grand palace in the year 1892. He commissioned the construction of the palace to provide employment to the villagers in the famine-struck areas surrounding Pune. It took 5 years for the palace to be constructed and around 1,000 workers were employed in its construction. A total of 12 lakh rupees were spent to build this grand palace.
The Aga Khan Palace in Pune played a significant role in India’s struggle for freedom. Soon after Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement on 8th August 1942, he was arrested by the British officials and brought to this palace in Pune on 10th August to be kept imprisoned. He was accompanied by Kasturba Gandhi, his personal secretary Mahadevbhai Desai, Sarojini Naidu, Pyarelal Nayar, and Dr. Sushila Nayar. Gandhiji and his colleagues were kept in this palace for almost two years before they were released on 6th May 1944. During this period, Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi breathed their last within the palace premises.
In 1969, Prince Karim El Hussenim Aga Khan IV gave the palace to the Gandhi Smarak Samiti to show his respect towards Mahatma Gandhi. The National Model School was housed in this palace until 1970. In 1974, Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister of India at that time, visited the palace and granted a yearly sum of 2 lakh rupees for its preservation and maintenance. In 2003, it was declared as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Aga Khan Palace Architecture
Located within a sprawling campus, the palace is known for its brilliant Islamic style architecture. It is located on 19 acres of land that includes expansive, well-maintained lawns. The main edifice is built on an area of 7 acres and has 5 huge halls. One of the distinguishing features of the palace architecture is its Italian style arches. A wide corridor of 2.5-meter width encircles the entire building.
The palace is a three-storied structure with a floor area of 1756 sq. meters for the ground floor. The first floor of the palace covers a floor area of 1080 sq. meters while the second floor is built on 445 sq. meters.
“New Hope for Rural India” is one of the rare paintings of Gandhi that points to his engagement with the “Constructive Programme”. All of the paintings are clearly in want of restoration: the colours have uniformly faded, on occasion, there are pigeon droppings, and the wooden frames show signs of decay. Some paintings, shockingly, are now beyond repair. Gandhi is little more than a white ghost in “A Crusader for Humanity”; many of the other figures are blurred.
The rooms that were used by the Gandhis, now serve as a museum to them. They are spartan and simple in taste. The museum inside the palace complex has a rich collection of pictures, depicting almost all the important incidents in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. There are personal items of Gandhi’s on display like utensils, slippers, clothes, and letters as well as a number of statues – most notably one in the first, main room, of Gandhi and his wife, the palace also served as the venue for the famous movie ‘Gandhi’. Since 1980, the management of the museum, samadhis and campus of the Agakhan Palace is under the Gandhi Memorial Society. Prince Karim El Husseni, Aga Khan IV, donated the Aga Khan Palace in Pune to India in 1969, in the honor of Gandhi and his philosophy.
!This place holds a serene atmosphere. A place where you could spend your time peacefully while being immersed in the simplicity of the place. If you are in Pune or happen to be in Pune, do visit this beautiful place!
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None the less, I love to explore the beauty of western ghats, beaches, and forts. I am very fond of Scuba diving and snorkeling as it feeds my adventure hunger. In between, I plan for the major escapes in different states of India. I will try to Share my best travel experiences and moments with you. Please find me on the Hyperlocal discovery and social experience App called Cushy where a platform to share our stories and experiences about the places we travel, Download today!