If Raj Ghat Delhi represents the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, then Aga Khan Palace Pune is symbolic of his larger than life shadow’s crematorium. A Palace where Kasturba Gandhi respired her last breath on February 22nd, 1944 while, Mahatma Gandhi read Gita by her side for hours. Both Bapu and Ba were ‘subjected’ to imprisonment, during the Quit India Movement and Aga Khan Palace is where they were detained until Kasturba Gandhi made her way, into eternal peace. Which, is why this palatial structure represents a ‘significant’ historic event from the pre-independence days of India.
As much as, the Aga Khan Palace Pune epitomizes India’s freedom movement, this 19-acre property was originally built by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III to facilitate poor of the neighboring areas of Western India. A design curated in the late 18th-century which eventually became India’s most important landmark. However, back in the eighteenth century, this Palace accommodated famine victims of Maharashtra and later in the 19th-century, it was used as the detaining center for freedom fighters by the British government. Regardless, Aga Khan is a majestic architectural wonder which served as both the charity center and the prison for the Indian freedom movement, which led it to become the monument of national importance.
Aga Khan Palace is also recognized as the Gandhi National Memorial, as it served to be the prison for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife, and his secretary during the freedom movement. The prison room where Bapu was held, is now the part of a museum showcasing his clothes, utensils, letters, and pictures from the time he spent here. As depressing as, the historic-events may sound, the sprawling lawns and exemplary arches of this palace ignite a fresh breeze of perspective. Until 1970, before Aga Khan Palace, was turned into a prison, it served as the National Model School.
In the present time, this Palace houses both Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi’s memorials in the rear garden. Post freedom, the Palace was donated to Indian citizens as an act to mark Gandhi’s non-violence philosophies. Although, due to the negligence of the managing authorities, the Palace conditions had worsened by 1998 and only after, a protest was held in Pune in 1999, did the government look into renovating the damaged sections. Even today, the first floor of the building is shut down for the visitors as it holds old furniture and goods in a vandalized state.
Regardless, a trip to Pune is incomplete unless you have visited the landmark of national importance.