Crossing the Bridge to the City We Live in

“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing thing.”

If places could tell stories there would enough stories to last us through eternity. Have you ever thought about it? Take the example of the city we live in…it has seen centuries of change. Changes that would have added a lot to its history. As in a movie, there would have been stories, good ones, bad ones, sad ones, and some of them might have added to the glory of the city. If only the cities could speak, we could sit and hear those stories.

Often, there are stories woven around a city. In our daily hustle and bustle, we often forget these stories. A building here, a monument there – we seem to take these for granted and hurry towards our destination. They are just landmarks to us. But believe me when I say that these are not mere landmarks. Some of them are the living proof of the stories that played out in our city long time. Guess, you would have realized by now that the continuous learning session has something to do with history, landmarks and Pune city.

Yup, it was Heena and Rajlaxmi’s turn to present and they took up a very common topic today. Pune. A word that is on our lips – we live and breathe here, we call it our hometown. We really don’t need an introduction to the city we call home. Having said that, there was something very unique about this common presentation. It let us take a peekaboo on the history of Pune. The presentation also discussed topics that would make us proud to be a Punekar.

Rajlaxmi and Heena started the presentation with the city’s name – Pune. Pune’s name is derived from the word Punya. The city is situated on the confluence of Mula and Mutha rivers. The confluence is called Punya. Previously, it was called Poona, but the city changed its name to Pune in 1978. Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra.

Apart from the name, the presentation also took us to a tour of:

Bhide Wada School for Girls

It was in the city that Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai -Phule opened the first girls’ school in 1848.

The Film and Television Institute of India

Pune is the home to the Film and Television Institute of India. It was established in 1960 and since then it has become India’s leading film and television institute.

Yerwada Central Jail

The Yerwada Central jail also calls Pune as its home. The 512-acre jail has held over 5K prisoners and is the largest jail in Maharashtra (it is also one of the largest in South Asia).  It was built by the British in 1871 and has housed many Indian freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, BalGangadharTilak.

The BalGandharvaRangaMandir

With the FTII, can theatre be far behind in Pune? The BalGandharvaRangaMandir (named after the Marathi singer and stage actor BalGandharwa) is also in Pune. It has an auditorium and exhibition hall and is one of the most sophisticated and well equipped theatres of India.  The theatre’s cornerstone was laid in 1962, and the opening ceremony was performed in 1968. Pu La Deshpande, a Marathi writer, and humourist was instrumental in forming the idea for this drama theatre.

The Aga Khan Palace

The Aga Khan Palace is a part of our freedom struggle. It has served prison for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba, his secretary, Mahadev Desai, and Sarojini Naidu during the Quit India Movements. It is also the place where Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai breathed their last. That is one side of the Aga Khan’s history. Did you know the Aga Khan Palace had another story behind its origin? The palace was built by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III so that he could provide employment to the famine-struck villagers of the surrounding region.

Aga Khan IV donated the palace to the people of India as a mark of respect to Gandhi and his philosophy. It is also called the Gandhi National Museum. The palace houses a memorial on Gandhi and his ashes are also kept here. Kasturba’s memorials are also located here. The Aga Khan Palace was given to India by Aga Khan IV amid 1969.

Pune Cantonment

Also, known as Pune Camp, Pune Cantonment is a military cantonment that was established in 1817 for accommodating the troops of the British India Army. It is another piece of history that has seen India’s freedom struggle at close quarters.

National War Museum or Memorial

The National War Memorial Southern Command is a war memorial dedicated to the post-independence war martyrs. It was erected with citizen’s contributions and is the only war memorial in South Asia to do this. It was dedicated to the nation on 15th August 1998.

National Defence Academy

The National Defence Academy is the first tri-service academy in the world where you will see all three forces – the Army, Navy and Air Force being trained together. The infrastructure is massive and amazing. It has 32 football fields.

Whoa! What an amazing list of places just in the city. Never did we realize that Pune has been an elegant and eclectic mix of old and new till Heena and Rajlaxmi took us on this tour via their presentation. Another great lesson in Continuous Learning. Truly, it was a new way of seeing the city we have lived in and love a lot.

Heena and Rajlaxmi were not yet done with us. They had something else in store with us. Now that we were into the presentation theme, we haven’t had any activities for a long time. Heena and Rajlaxmi had an activity planned for us. It was a simple activity but one that tested our body and mind coordination to the core. It was called “Crossing the Foot Bridge.” It was easy but if you are not really coordinated, it was easy to make a mistake with this simple game.

As I said, the activity was simple. Heena and Rajlaxmi had made some footprints on several sheets of paper. They had placed it in a line but awkwardly.  When you walk, you put one foot over the other. In the game, they had us coordinate the correct foot to the one on the paper. Heena and Rajlaxmi had placed it in such a way that sometimes, you need to put the left or the right foot again instead of the other foot. In some places, we needed to plant for feet together.

It was a mind game as much as it was a physical game – something that had us remain alert at all times. We had to follow the pattern and cross the bridge. The body and mind coordination taxed us, but we loved playing this activity.

The session ended on a great note. The influx of knowledge, followed by the activity kept us on our toes mentally and physically. Hey, Heena and Rajlaxmi, thanks for such an invigorating session!

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