Raj Bhavan Pune
The Dhapooree House – Pune
Today Ganeshkhind might mean 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. On this day, 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 of the Queen’s 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, though 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 over the 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 1875, remarked, Even the Bombay Government stays (at Bombay) sometime, from the end 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 Elphinstone’s 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.
The Governor House, Pune today contains “Punya Bhushan”, the official residence of the Governor during the stay at Pune. “Punya Lakshan”, “Punya Chintan”, are the other VVIP Guest Houses, which are being used only for the stay of the High Profile dignitaries like Hon’ble President of India, Hon’ble Vice President of India, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Hon’ble Home Minister of India, and Hon’ble Chief Justice of India.
Some 412 Acres of land belonging to the Governor House, Pune has been leased out to the University of Pune on a lease agreement of 999 years for the larger interest of the public. Also some 10 Acres of land of Governor’s House has been transferred to Yashawantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration, Pune.