The cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is one of the oldest cities of the state, and is called the ‘queen of the Deccan plateau’. The city acted as a throne for the Peshwas of the Maratha kingdom, and continues to be of economic, cultural and political importance. Ranging from structures of heritage value to net zero energy buildings, Pune has a lot to offer, and here are 15 such places every architect must visit when in Pune.
1. AGA KHAN PALACE
This ancient palace designed by Architect Charles Correa and built by the Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III for the famine victims in 1892. This palace spans across 19acres and is famous for its majestic architecture opposing to its purpose. This palace also served as a prison for several Indian freedom fighters.
2. SHANIWAR WADA
This enormous fort built in 1732, was the seat of the Peshwas of Maratha Empire until 1818 after the Third Anglo-Maratha War. The fort was destroyed in the year 1828 by an unexplained fire, but the surviving structures are now maintained as a tourist site.The fort was built at a cost of Rs 16,110/- with Teak from jungles of Junnar, stone from Chinchwad and lime from Jejuri lime-belts. The fort was later added with fortification walls, bastions and gates, court halls and other buildings, fountains and reservoirs. The current perimeter fortification walls have five gateways and nine bastion towers, enclosing a garden complex with the foundations of original buildings.
3. COLLECTOR OFFICE
A building best described as the Power house of Pune is the new Collector office building that was designed over the existing site. The new structure has proved itself to be very eco-friendly when the architects decided to preserve some of the old stone structures and the 197 fully grown trees without depleting the established Eco-system while constructing this new 19797 sq m of structure. All the wings of the structure are connected by bridges at various levels.
4. SHINDE CHHATRI
This historic monument is a memorial built for Mahadaji Shinde Chhatri who served as the Commander in Chief for the Maratha army. With its exquisite architectural style reflecting Rajasthan’s culture, the carvings and the buildings stand as an example of fine Vaastu Hara rules and are made of yellow stone and black stone used for the base of the sanctum sanctorum. The English style colored windows and the carvings and paintings in the Chhatri symbolizes the cremation of Mahadji Shinde and is adorned with paintings and photographs of members of Shinde family.
5. ISKON NVCC TEMPLE
Built over the span of 6 acres, Iskon temple in Pune is one of the must visit places in the city for its architectural grace. The temple’s devotional centre is entirely made of marble with each pillar of the building engraved with two gopis and one elephant at the base. The gold-embossed altar doors and the transparent marble flooring glowing in diffused lights enhance the beauty of the building. Other important features of the temple are the lotus shaped dome with Lord Krishna’s carving and the 3D paintings that are featured on the interior walls.
6. COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
This Victorian-Gothic style premise built over 150 years ago is one of the eye catching must visit places in the city. This structure is a blend of the Maratha and Gothic influences with its signature crenellated brackets and parapets. This building was one of the first Gothic revival buildings in the country which was restored in 2012.
7. INFOSYS BUILDING
The unusual and unique dome shape with glass facade of the Infosys building in Hinjewadi attracted some attention towards itself. Popularly known as the descended UFO, this structure is the work of Architect Hafeez Contractor. This is a futuristic building, which is both sustainable and environment friendly.
8. TATA TECHNOLOGIES CAMPUS
Another futuristic building from the Architect of the Aga Khan Palace, Charles Correa, is the Tata Technologies Campus which is located right opposite to the Infosys Building. The architecture that is made for its local climatic conditions is the highlight of this structure. The glass facade is more comfortable for the tropical Indian climate and the building structure is built around 3 large courtyards which brings together the larger building units. The campus uses the concept of ‘Rent Houses’ of the US i.e, the workspaces that are leased out as small computerized offices. Ten such centers are placed around three courtyards, Each technical centre is self-sufficient house with accommodation, a triple-height sky-lit courtyard, an open terrace, a conference room, a pantry and toilets, so each room becomes a self sufficient independent house.
9. EON IT PARK
The Falling Lotus Blossoms EON IT Park, a complex of four buildings that resemble a lotus cluster spread over 4 million square feet, has a geometric structure inspired by the national flower of India. The structure looks like a four-leaf clover with an open space in the centre.
10. LAL MAHAL
The Original Lal mahal stands in the place of the present building constructed by the Pune Municipal Corporation in 1988. The original Lal Mahal was built by Shahaji Bhosale, father of Shivaji for his wife Jijabai and son, in 1630 AD. Shivaji spent 10 years of his childhood at the palace. Built in red brick, today it is an apt tribute to the great emperor with many representations on his life.
11. SHIVNERI FORT
Shivneri fort was not built by the Marathas and is believed to have built during the Satavahana rule. There are the remains of rock caves which are still evident on the fort, which points to the fact that it was Buddhist centre once. From there on, many rulers occupied the fort. It is a triangular fort, built on a hill, and is well-maintained with seven gates at the fort, each with a name.
12. VISHRAM BAGH WADA
This was the residence of Bajirao II till his defeat by the British. It consists of three storeys and was renowned for its woodwork. The facade of the palace in terracotta, white and brown, adds to the beauty. The gigantic wooden pillars and the wooden verandah are what catches everyone’s attention. There is a large hall on the first floor which is said to have been a dancing hall, where dances were organized for Peshwa’s entertainment. Spread across 20,000 sqft, this wada is a reminder of the peshwa rule in Maharashtra, their bravery, perseverance and also of their tragic stories.
13. SUZLON ONE EARTH
This building is an eco-friendly, self-sufficient headquarters of the company Suzlon. The campus is spread across 10 acres and is completely powered by renewable energy, including hybrid wind turbines, solar panels and photovoltaic cells. It is a net zero energy building, a pioneering step towards sustainable architecture, and hence is a must visit for architects.
Designed by Charles Correa, the campus has a large courtyard with many elements representing the expansion of universe. Many stone blocks are scattered along the diagonal of the courtyard, representing asteroids scattered in space. The campus has many similar elements to Jawahar Kala Kendra, designed by the same Architect around the same time.
Designed by Christopher Benninger, The Centre for Development Studies and Activities is a structure composed using 3 elements: Stone, glass and tiled roof. The whole structure is oriented in a way that natural light enters every block. The west side roof slopes at a steeper angle to accommodate for heavy monsoon winds coming from that direction. The 3 elements are held together using courtyards, outdoor pathways and stairs.