History of Pune


Medieval Times
The original agricultural settlement had become known as Punnaka by the 8th century. The earliest evidence (copper plates dating 758 AD and 768 AD) reveals that this region was ruled by the Rashtrakutas. It came under Mughal rule in the 17th century.

Until circa 1818, it continued to be ruled by various dynasties, especially the Nizamshahi Sultans, Mughals, and the Marathas. During the mid 17th century, it became the temporary residence of the Maratha King Shivaji. In 1749 A.D, it gained prominence as the capital of the Peshwa, prime minister of the Maratha King Shahu. It was during this period that the city expanded considerably.

Pune's medieval roots are also evident in the number of its temples. The oldest structure in the city is the rock-cut temple of Pataleshwar, from the 8th century AD. The cave-temple complex is also called Panchaleshvara cave. This cave, once situated outside the limits of the old town, is now squarely in the middle of the city off the Jungli Maharaj road.

Maratha Empire
Pune is inextricably linked to the life of the Maratha hero and king, Chhatrapati Shivaji. The era of Pune's fame began when Chhatrapati Shivaji came to stay here with his mother Jijabai in 1635-36. They lived in a mansion known as "Lal Mahal," a monument can be visited at its original location in the city. According to local lore, the Kasba Ganapati Mandir, regarded as the presiding deity of the city (gramadevata), was built by Jijabai.

In the early 18th century, prime minister of Chhatrapati Shahu, Peshwe Baji Rao I wanted to make Pune his home, which was agreed to by the king. He built his palace on a slightly raised ground near the Mutha river. The fortified palace is known as Shaniwar Wada. Shaniwar Wada is considered by many to be the focal point of the old city of Pune. It was during the Peshwa period that Pune became virtually the Capital of India and center of peshwa rule that extended from Pune to Attock in Pakistan and Pune soon rose to prominence.

A historical fort at Kharda commemorates the Battle of Kharda fought between the Maratha Confederacy under the Peshwa at Poona and the Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1795.

After this event, the Maratha Confederacy started disintegrating and internal strife was evident in many incidents, for example the Battle of Poona in 1802 which took place near Pune between Hadapsar and Loni.

1817 saw a war breaking out between the Marathas and the British. A battle was fought in Kirkee (now "Khadki"), a town earlier outside the Pune city (though at present is considered to be well within the city limits). The Peshwas were defeated and the British forces took over the town. The British realized the importance of the city and built a large cantonment to the east of the city. Later, Pune was pronounced the Monsoon Capital of the Bombay Presidency. The city passed into British rule after the defeat of Marathas in the Battle of Ashti in 1818. Army bases established by the British on the outskirts of the city were later converted into cantonments of Pune and Khadki. The Pune Municipality was established in 1858. A number of esteemed educational institutes also came up here in the latter half of the 19th century, enhancing Pune's stature as an education hub.

A Center of Struggle for India's Independence from the British Rule During the struggle for Indian independence, Pune took its place as an important center for social and religious reform movements that were sweeping the country. The presence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak dominated the political scene for six decades during this period. It was the home to some reformers who were stalwarts of the national movement, like Mahadev Govind Ranade, R.G Bhandarkar, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde and Jyotirao Phule.