VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE
Baramati. My birthplace. Baramati – half a decade ago, the then dusty mofussil town in the back of beyond, where I was born on the 12th of September in 1956, which has now metamorphosed into a vibrant oasis of agriculture, education and industry.
We visited Baramati on Saturday, the 1st of December 2007 – a visit so memorable, so delightful, so enlightening, and so nostalgic that I must tell you about it.
It all started on the spur of the moment, when my 75-year-old mother, who is suffering from an advanced stage of Age Related Macular Degeneration [ARMD] of both her retinas and is fast losing what little remains of her eyesight, suggested we visit Baramati, so that we could see the memories of her childhood. I too was keen to see my birthplace, where I was born and spent some of my earlier holidays, evoking in me nostalgic memories of the fun and frolic, the hurda parties at my grandfather’s farm, and was especially keen to see the much-praised state-of-the-art campus of Vidya Pratishthan and its modern College of Engineering at Vidyanagari about which I had heard so much.
We started off from Pune in the morning at eight thirty in our dependable Santro, picking up an ex-Baramatikar Bipin Pole, who had so readily agreed to accompany and guide us along, hit Shankershet road, crossed Hadapsar, and turned right and sped towards Baramati via the Saswad, Jejuri, Morgaon route. It’s a smooth drive, and soon we were negotiating our way up the Dive Ghat, glancing at the once brimming with water, now dry, Mastani Lake or Talav, down below to our left, crossed Saswad [where we would stop on our way back to meet my uncle], and soon could see the majestic Jejuri Temple atop the peak straight ahead. Crossing Jejuri, a pleasant drive, and soon we saw the famous Ashtavinayak Morgaon Ganesh Temple [where we would all pray and pay our obeisance].
At Morgaon we turned left on our final leg towards Baramati, leaving the Indian Seamless Metal Tubes factory to our right and as we crossed Medad Fort to our left we started to get a feel of the transformation seeing the excellent quality broad roads. As we approached the town I experienced a sense of déjà vu [I was visiting Baramati for the first time since the early nineteen sixties – after almost forty five years] as we approached Dr. Atul Pole’s dispensary opposite the then Shyam Talkies [now replaced by the modern and elegant Vidya Pratishtan Office Complex but the road is still known as Cinema Road]. It was almost noon; we’d covered the little over 100 kilometers distance in three hours.
Dr. Atul Pole [son of the illustrious “Pole Doctor”] and his charming wife were waiting for us with delicious upma and refreshing piping hot tea, and after refreshing ourselves we were off towards Vidyanagari, the campus of Vidya Pratishthan. Turning right on Bhigwan Road, past the canal, and the once narrow gauge [I remember traveling by the Daund – Baramati Toy Train] railway station adorned with its commemorative little steam engine as a remembrance of its heritage, we drove smoothly on the broad top quality road past the elegant court building and swanky well laid out colonies and soon reached Vidyanagari. It’s a pleasure to drive on the smooth spacious traffic-free roads – the roads here are certainly better that the roads in Pune.
The moment you reach Vidyanagari you feel as if you have entered another world. Vidyanagari’s truly impressive pristine, lush green, verdant campus, echoing with elevating silence, engenders within you that unique sense of tranquility and academic ambiance which is a sine qua non of a genuine learning environment. The museum is truly inspiring and exquisite – you’ve got to see it to visualize how dazzling and awe-inspiring it is. I was overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling as we strolled leisurely through the scenic soothing green campus.
Outside it had the old-world charm of the beautiful serene university milieu of yesteryear; inside the facilities and infrastructure were most modernistic high-tech state-of-the-art. A lovely symbiosis of nature and technology indeed!
In the good old days premier residential engineering colleges like Roorkee, BENCO and even the earlier IITs were located in self-contained campuses far away from the hustle-bustle and distractions of city life in order to facilitate holistic learning – the Vidya Pratishthan’s College of Engineering at Vidyanagari has similar favorable environs and academic atmosphere conducive to peaceful undisturbed learning and all round development.
We walk past students in their smart college T-shirts, admiring the rambling playgrounds, the superb well-stocked library, the neat hostels and faculty quarters and the impressive VIIT building and reach the magnificent College of Engineering building where we enjoy a fruitful interaction with a most pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic senior faculty member Prakash Gogte who tells us all about his premier institution. As we leave, I wonder whether someday I’ll be back in Baramati to be a part of this wonderful institution.
We now drive around the new parts of Baramati and arrive at the Maalya Varchi Devi temple and offer prayers. Then we drive back into the old part of Baramati, past the erstwhile Siddhaye hospital where I was born, down Station Road to my grandfather’s ancient majestic house which still stands strong. [My grandfather came to Baramati in the early 1920’s and his address was simple – KN Gokhale, BA. LL.B., Pleader, Station Road, Baramati].
Tears of nostalgia well up in my mother’s eyes as she goes around the ancient house – her childhood home. A school classmate and some acquaintances come to meet her and they are all so happy reminiscing and exchanging notes about their friends and families. Seeing the joy on my mother’s face I am glad we came to Baramati.
We see the important places nearby –the Siddheshwar temple, Bhuikot Fort [the earlier location of the court where my grandfather worked] and drive on the banks of the Karha river. It’s late afternoon now, and my mother has to be back home before dark owing to her vision deterioration, so we head back for Pune.
I’m glad we visited Baramati. Truly admirable breathtaking development and a marvelous transformation from the fleeting memories of the once dusty little mofussil town I had in my mind. I’m going to visit Baramati and rediscover more of my roots again and again – maybe next time by train via Daund. I hope they start convenient fast trains from Pune so that Baramati is as easily accessible by rail as it is by road.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2007
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.