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Monday, April 26, 2010

Edition 16: University of Pune, Down The Memory Lane

As a city stretching its commonly known history four centuries back, the city of Pune offeres quite a selection of places where the past melts in the present without giving any hint of the legend behind it. The structure of University of Pune is one of those buildings which constantly appear as a symbol of the Pune. The university is identified with the Main Building. It is a monumental and Grade A heritage building, complete with the splendours of British Raj era. With a beautiful architecture and its tower project high into the sky bearing the flag of the University, it is without doubt one of the prominent monuments of the city. The office of the Vice-Chancellor, Dean's Chambers and Records Section are located in the Main Building. Meeting of various academic bodies are conducted in the four prestigious halls of the Main Building Viz., Yashwantrao Chavan Sabhagriha, Sant Dnyaneshwar Sabhagriha, Shivaji Sabhagriha and the Sant Gadge Maharaj Sabhagriha. After the rennovation, the building has acquired a renewed charm. The Legend The lofty Main Building of the University of Pune was once the residence of the governors of Bombay in the days of the British Raj. It was built in 1864 when Sir Bartle Frere was the Governor. Designed by James Trubshawe, the magnificent edifice was built in Ganeshkhind, on the outskirts of what was then called Poona. Architecturally, it defies classification though its spiritual antecedents are Italian and the 80 feet flag tower has been described as an 'Victorian rendering of an Italian campanile'. The building was inspired by Prince Albert's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The cost of residence was Sterling Pound 175'000 to build, nearly six times the amount raised by the sale of the Governor's previous residence. The building of such a palatial house in the aftermath of the cotton crash in Bombay was severely criticized and referred by the British Parliament as 'a typical instance of the extravagance and insubordination of the Governors of Bombay'. Sir Frere defended his action staunchly, even though the house was not habitable by the time he left India in 1867. His successor, Sir Seymour FitzGerald carried out the furnishing and decoration, and he in turn was criticized for being extravagant, especially for the sterling pound 500 chandelier in the ballroom-which still sparkles, adding to the grandeur of the Ballroom!

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