There’s no denying that we all are obsessed with our work lives, mostly because we spend so much of our time at work. But there are so many other things in the world worth knowing, worth experiencing, worth looking at which we usually miss out. So, for those who don’t find time from their hectic schedule, I’ll sometimes write about the research I’ve done for my books – something different, amazing and downright surprising, but facts mostly. Yes, I’ve been writing – am trying to get my first book published and on my way to finish writing my second.
So today, I’ll write about Pune (where I’ve spent most of my life and where the plot of my first book develops) and I’m sure this info is as captivating to you as it was for me.
Did you know Pune is known to have existed as a town since 937 AD? In 1637 Pune included the four Peths (localities) of Kasba, Shaniwar (meaning Saturday), Raviwar (Sunday) and Somwar (Monday). Funny, the localities to be named after the days in a week! In 1663 Mangalwar (Tuesday) Peth was added and Budwar (Wednesday) Peth was added in 1703. By the time Shukrawar (Friday) Peth was added in 1734, the population of the seven Peths was about 25,000 people. The population of Pune district on January 1st 2010 was approximately 1,05,24,224.
But what really captured my attention, was the ancient underground water supply system in Pune, which is considered as an engineering marvel as it could supply water to practically the whole of Pune then, without the need for motors and pipelines, which are used everywhere in the world!
Water Supply During the Eras of Shivaji and the Peshwas:
In 1750, one of the knights of Nanasaheb Peshwa, Sardar (meaning knight) Naro Appaji Tulshibagwale, built Katraj Lake to arrange for water supply of Pune city. In year 1778 Sardar Anandrao Raste brought water to Rasta Peth (named after him), from Kondhave village which is located 7 miles east of Pune.
In year 1790 Sardar Nana Phadnis directed well water from Narhe Ambegaon village located 6 miles south of Pune city. He directed well-water by means of an Earthen Duct. This water was said to be of very good quality, and was being collected in a tank at Sadashiv Peth area of Pune city. Ruparam Choudhari also brought water by pipe to Shukrawar Peth and Bhavani Peth areas of Pune city.
Damming of Ambil Odha (meaning Stream)
The Ambil Odha was dammed at Katraj in 1755, creating two lakes. The upper one is for settling silt, and the lower one for providing water. The course of the Ambil Odha was changed around the same time, and a temple built at Saras-baug (garden), which was a marshy area along side the odha course.
The reservoir created by the damming of Ambil is the Katraj Lake which is located 10 km south of Pune city. This historic water supply system comprises huge ducts and underground tunnels originating from Katraj Lake of the city to the historic Shaniwarwada Fort, the ancient seat of the Peshwas.
An earthen duct channelizes water to Pune city from the wall of Katraj Lake. This duct measures 2’ 6” in breadth and 6’ to 7’ in height. Between Katraj to Shaniwarwada there are about 125 openings. This eight km long duct opens out into several fountains, baths, wells and water tanks (Hauds). Some of these, such as the Kala Haud and the Nana Haud, were functional as late as the 1970s, but the PMC has forbidden the use of it as the water is no longer potable and could be hazardous. At that time, it is said, this water supply scheme was able to supply approx 29 lakh litres of water per day.
Details of the underground water system is also mentioned in the book ‘Punyacha Pani Puravtha’ (meaning ‘Water Supply System of Pune’), published in 1914. But the exact location of the system, its origins, its exact route and the ancient system of filtration had always been a mystery and no serious efforts were done to find out the details.
This Katraj water supply scheme played vital role as Pune was flooded when Panshet dam tumbled down in 1961. Today however, water from the Katraj reservoir is not potable and cannot be used as drinking water.
The dams built by the British:
From about 1600 AD, the British East India Company had started trading with, and controlling many parts of the Indian region. The British brought with them new ideas of how to plan cities. In 1860, they set up the Pune Municipality and military settlements or cantonments at Khadki and Pune. They also created water supply systems for these new settlements. These are:
Khadakwasla Dam in 1876, Pashan Dam and Mula-Mutha Bund in 1848.
Now that I’ve presented all this info, I’m sure most of you didn’t know all this already. Did you? Because, it took me a lot of effort to find and confirm all these things. So, why not share this article with your friends and improve their knowledge of Pune as well? Click on the Share Button below and spread the word.
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