Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Baramati – Back to My Roots – a Travel Blog


Back to My Roots 
Travel Blog 

I wrote this travelogue around 15 years ago soon after we visited Baramati in December 2007. 

In order to revive nostalgic memories – I am re-posting this travelogue with a few pictures of this memorable trip to my birthplace. 

                              Maalya Varchi Devi 




My birthplace. 

Baramati – where I was born around 66 years ago – on the 12th of September in 1956 – then a dusty mofussil town in the back of beyond – 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 (she is 89 years old now) – 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 – she 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 where I spent some holidays in my early childhood – evoking in me nostalgic memories of the fun and frolic – the hurda parties at my grandfather’s farm – and I 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 8:30 AM in our dependable Santro – picking up an ex-Baramatikar Bipin Pole – who had so readily agreed to accompany and guide us along.

Soon – we hit Shankershet road – crossed Hadapsar –  and turned right and sped towards Baramati via the Saswad, Jejuri, Morgaon route.

It is 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 (Mastani Talav) – down below to our left –we crossed Saswad (where we would stop on our way back to meet my uncle) – and soon – we 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).


 Ashtavinayak Morgaon Ganesh Temple      


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 Baramati town – I experienced a sense of déjà vu (this was the year 2007 – and I was visiting Baramati for the first time since the late 1960s – after almost 40 years) – yes – I experienced a sense of déjà vu 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 12 noon. 

We had covered the little over 100 kilometers distance in 3 hours (with a stop at Morgaon).

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 – we crossed the erstwhile narrow gauge Baramati Railway Station adorned with its commemorative little steam engine as a remembrance of its heritage (I remember travelling by the Daund – Baramati Narrow Gauge “Toy Train”). 

We drove on smoothly on the broad top quality road past the elegant court building and swanky well laid out colonies –and soon – we reached Vidyanagari.

It was a pleasure to drive on the smooth spacious traffic-free roads. 

We observed that the roads here were 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 was truly inspiring and exquisite – you have 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 and BENCO  –and even the earlier IITs – they 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 maternal grandfather came to Baramati in the early 1920’s – and his address was simple – KN Gokhale, BA. LL.B., Pleader, Station Road, Baramati).


My Grandfathers House - Where I Was Born in 1956 

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 visited Baramati.

My Mothers School Classmates

We see the important places nearby – the Siddheshwar Temple, Bhuikot Fort – the earlier location of the court – where my grandfather worked – and we 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.

On the way back we visit my uncle LA Gokhale and his family at Saswad. 

Bipin, our co-traveller, Atul Pole, our host and my mother after Darshan

I’m glad we visited Baramati and witnessed the 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, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai so that Baramati is as easily accessible by rail as it is by road.

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