It is situated 560 metres (1,837 feet) above sea level on the Deccan plateau, on the right bank of the Mutha river. Pune city is the administrative headquarters of Pune district and was once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire. In the 18th century, Pune became the political centre of the Indian subcontinent, as the seat of Peshwas who were the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire. Pune is considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Since the 1950s and 1960s, Pune has had traditional old-economy industries which continue to grow today. Furthermore, the city is also known for manufacturing and automobiles, as well as government and private sector research institutes for information technology (IT) education, management and training, that attract migrants, students, and professionals from India, South East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Pune is also one of the fastest growing cities in the Asia-Pacific region. The ‘Mercer 2015 Quality of Living rankings’ evaluated local living conditions in more than 440 cities around the world where Pune ranked at 145, second in India after Hyderabad(138)
Early and Medieval
The circular Nandi mandapa at the Pataleshwar cave temple, built during the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Copper plates dated 858 AD and 868 AD show that by the 8th century an agricultural settlement known as Punnaka existed where Pune is today. The plates indicate that this region was ruled by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The Pataleshwar rock-cut temple complex was built during this era.
Pune was part of the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri from the 9th century to 1327. In 1595, Maloji Raje Bhosale was appointed the jagirdar of Pune by the Mughal Empire.Pune was ruled by the Ahmadnagar Sultanate until it was annexed by the Mughals in the 17th century.
Pune was part of the Jagir (Fiefdom) granted to Maloji Bhosale in 1599 for his services to the Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar. His grandson, Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire, was born on Shivneri fort not far from Pune. Shivaji was brought up by his mother in Pune. Pune changed hands a few times between the Mughals and the Marathas in the period of 1660 to 1705. When Chhatrapati Shahu succeeded to the Maratha throne in 1707, he decided on Satara as his capital but his chief administrators, the Peshwa and the real power behind the throne later on, decided on Pune as their headquarters.
In 1626, Shahaji Raje Bhosale (father of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj) appointed Rango Bapuji Dhadphale as the administrator of Pune. He was one of the first and the main developer of the town, overseeing the construction of some markets and residential areas like Kasba Peth, Somwar Peth, Raviwar Peth, and Shaniwar Peth. After the destruction of the town in raids by the Adil Shahi dynasty in 1630 and again between 1636 and 1647, Dadoji Konddeo, the successor of Dhadphale as administrator, oversaw redevelopment and construction of the area. He stabilized the revenue and administration system of Pune and the neighboring towns of Maval . In addition, he developed effective methods to manage disputes and to enforce law and order. Construction began in 1631 on the Lal Mahal. The Lal Mahal was completed in 1640. Jijabai is said to have commissioned the building of the Kasba Ganapati temple. The Ganesha idol consecrated at this temple was and is regarded as the presiding deity (gramadevata) of the city.
Despite bitter opposition from some Maratha Jagirdars, Shivaji was crowned Chhatrapati in 1674, thus founding the Maratha Empire. He oversaw further development in Pune, including the construction of Guruwar Peth, Somwar Peth, Ganesh Peth, and Ghorpade Peth. Shivaji encouraged the development of dams in Parvati and Kondhwa regions of Pune for agriculture purposes. Pune and its surrounding villages provided manpower for Shivaji’s efforts to build an army during the period from 1645 to 1680. Between 1660 and 1670 the town was captured by Mughal General Shahista Khan, but was recaptured by the Marathas in 1670 after the Battle of Sinhagad. Shivaji often used Pune as his transit base during his major campaigns such as Varhad-Karanja (1673), AhemadaNagar District (1675), Karnataka (1677), and Jalna (1679). During the 27-year-long conflict between the Marathas and the Mughals, the town was occupied by Aurangzeb from 1703 to 1705; during this time, the name of the town was changed to “Muhiyabad”. Two years later, the Marathas recaptured Sinhagad fort and later Pune city from the Mughals as had been done in 1670.
An equestrian statue of Baji Rao I outside the Shaniwar Wada, who is credited with successful expansion of Maratha power in North India (circa 1730 CE)
A memorial commemorating The Great Peshwa Shrimant Madhavrao I, who (with assistance from Maharaja Mahadaji Scindia) resurrected Maratha power in North India (circa 1770 CE) Chhatrapati Shahu, grandson of Shivaji, realized the importance of Pune and asked most of the Maratha army to be stationed in Pune because of its central location. Various regions such as Konkan, Khandesh, Marathwada, South Maharashtra, North Karnataka can be reached from Pune in just 3 to 4 days. He also asked his army to report to the Peshwa at Pune location for fast expedition, finances rather than relying on Satara, the seat of the Chhatrapati. In 1720, Baji Rao I was appointed Peshwa (Prime Minister) of the Maratha Empire by Chhatrapati Shahu of Satara. He selected Pune as his base and started construction of Shaniwar Wada on the right bank of the Mutha river. The construction was completed in 1730, ushering in the era of Peshwa control of the city. The patronage of the Maratha Peshwas resulted in the construction of many temples and bridges in the city, including the Lakdi Pul and the temples on Parvati Hill. Bajirao Peshwa also constructed an underground aqueduct to bring water from Katraj Lake to Shaniwar Wada. The aqueduct is still operational. Pune prospered as a city during the reign of Nanasaheb Peshwa. He developed Saras Baug, Heera Baug, Parvati Hill and new commercial, trading, and residential localities. Sadashiv Peth, Narayan Peth, Rasta Peth, and Nana Peth were developed in this era. The Peshwa influence declined after the defeat of Maratha forces in the 1761 Battle of Panipat but Pune remained their seat of power until their final defeat by the British East India Company. In 1802, Pune was captured by Yashwantrao Holkar in the Battle of Pune, directly precipitating the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803–1805. During this period, Sardar Apajiram Sahasrebudhe was the Kotwal of the city (further adopted Kotwal as surname)
Government House of the British authority to Gunesh Khind at Poona in India, seen from the east, around 1875. Leiden University Library, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. Fergusson College, founded in 1885 during the British Raj, the first privately governed college in India.
The Third Anglo-Maratha War broke out between the Marathas and the British in 1817. The Peshwas were defeated at the Battle of Khadki (then spelt Kirkee) on 5 November near Pune and the city was seized by the British. It was placed under the administration of the Bombay Presidency and the British built a large military cantonment to the east of the city (now used by the Indian Army). The Pune Municipality was established in 1858. Navi Peth, Ganj Peth (now renamed Mahatma Phule Peth) were developed during the British Raj.
Pune was an important centre in the social and religious reform movements of the late 19th century. Prominent social reformers and freedom fighters lived here, including Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Dr. Raghunath Karve. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar resided in Pune when he enrolled in Fergusson College in 1902.
In late 1896, Pune was hit by bubonic plague. By the end of February 1897, the epidemic was raging with a mortality rate twice the norm and half the city’s population fled. A Special Plague Committee was formed under the chairmanship of W.C. Rand, an Indian Civil Services officer. He brought troops to deal with the emergency. Although these measures were unpopular, the epidemic was under control by May. On 22 June 1897, during the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the coronation of Queen Victoria, Rand and his military escort were killed by the Chapekar brothers. A memorial to the Chapekar brothers exists at the spot on Ganeshkhind Road (University Road) between the Reserve Bank and the Agricultural College.
Pune was prominently associated with the struggle for Indian independence. In the period between 1875 and 1910, the city was a major centre of agitation led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The city was also a centre for social reform led by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, feminist Tarabai Shinde, Dhondo Keshav Karve and Pandita Ramabai. They demanded the abolition of caste prejudice, equal rights for women, harmony between the Hindu and Muslim communities, and better schools for the poor. Mohandas Gandhi was imprisoned at Yerwada Central Jail several times and placed under house arrest at the Aga Khan Palace in 1942–44, where both his wife and aide Mahadev Desai died.