The Dhapooree House - Pune
Today Ganeshkhind might mean the Pune University to
most. But half a century ago it suggested the Government House, the
monsoon resort of the Governor of Bombay. Yet the name still evokes the
memories of that fateful night of 22nd June 1897. It was on this day
that Walter Charles Rand, Special Officer for Plague in Pune, who
invited the wrath of Pune residents for his atrocities, was assaulted by
the Chapheker brothers while he was returning from the Government house
after attending the Golden Jubilee celebrations or the Queens
coronation. The rest is history.
But before Ganeshkhind became the official residence
of the Governor, there was another house, at Dhapooree, where the story
really began. It was here that the political diplomacy of the British,
relating to the Southern Maratha Country, took shape. Today its tangible
and intangible traces have completely faded out of memory.
Pune has the distinction of being the monsoon
residence of the Governor of Bombay, now Maharashtra, for almost a
hundred and eighty years, through the period of stay has now been
reduced to a symbolic month. Even so the Governor today attends the
Independence Day celebrations on 15th August at Pune just as he presides
Republic day celebrations on 26th January at Mumbai,
Shri Sri Prakasa (1956-1962) was, perhaps, the last Governor who kept
the schedule of a stay of four months, away from Mumbai, residing at
Mahabaleshwar in May and at Pune from June to August.
Commenting on this practice Maclean, as early as
Even the Bombay Government stays
(at Bombay) sometime, from the and of November to the end of the
March, though in most years it takes itself off to Matheran or
Mahabaleshwar at the end of February, moves to Poona at the end of May
and does not till November come clown.
Pune, by then, had indeed become the second capital
of Western India. It was the HQ of the Army and of several government
departments. Maclean even thought
it can boast of the finest
Governors palace in India, a Council Hall big enough for a
Parliament of Western India instead of a dozen legislators who
assembled in it three or four times a year.
The new house at Ganeshkhind that was completed and
occupied in 1871 overwhelmed Maclean.
While the residency at Mahabaleshwar was clearly for
physical comfort, to avoid the hot and sultry summer of Bombay,
political expediency was undoubtedly the motivation for Elphinstones
choice of Pune for establishing a residency. It also came with a
premium, as the climate of Pune during the monsoon was as pleasant as
the English summer. Despite the inconveniences of travel and often
inclement weather, Elphinstone seems to have enjoyed staying away from
Mumbai and Parel for he built for himself a cottage at Malabar Point, a
bungalow at Khandala and often stayed at Ghorabunder with friends
in a small but handsome building, a very cool and convenient house for
this climate and commanding a magnificent view.