1756, the fall of the pirate Angria and the destruction of his power at
sea at the hands of the English. It was the first achievement which
raised the English to importance in Western India. In 1761, the Marathas
were defeated at the third Battle of Panipat against Haider Ali, the
great Mughal ruler of North India. This news shattered Balaji Bajirao,
who died shortly afterwards, in the temple on Parvati hill in Pune.
The Maratha power was at the zenith of its glory during Balaji Bajirao's
(also called Nana saheb Peshwa) reign. Madhavrao, his second son then
took over, but had to constantly face administrative disputes with his
uncle, Raghunathrao. Ultimately, Madhavrao took Raghunathrao prisoner in
1768; the same year when the Mughals destroyed Pune. Madhavrao, also
called 'Thorale'or Greatest Madhavrao, is entitled to special praise for
supporting the poor and for his sense of justice. He took ill in 1771
and died in 1772. Narayanrao, Balaji Bajirao's third son succeeded the
throne as the next peshwa. In 1773, Raghunathrao, who had been
imprisoned by Madhavrao, in a room in the palace in Pune, escaped with
the help of the Mughals. Narayanrao was murdered at the Shaniwar wada in
Pune, owing to a conspiracy by Anandibai, Raghunathrao's wife.
Raghunathrao was proclaimed the next Peshwa, although he was not heir to
the title. Narayanrao's widow gave birth to a son, Savai Madhavrao, who
was legally the next peshwa. Raghunathrao maintained his kingdom by
signing treaties with the English, and relied on them for man-power in
exchange for money and territory. At the time, Pune was under a Maratha
minister by the name of Nana Phadnis. Raghunathrao died in 1782, leaving
behind him, two sons; Bajirao, who in 1817 confronted the British at the
Battle of Kirkee, in Pune; and the younger, Chimnaji Appa.
Nana Phadnis's craving for power never let Savai Madhavrao attain the
glory of the former peshwas. Nana died in 1800 and Pune fell into the
hands of the Sindia's; the former chiefs of Nana's army. They remained
in power for a short while and in 1802, Bajirao reestablished himself in
Pune, by signing the treaty of Bassein with the British. The capturing
of the Ahmednagar fort in 1803, proved British supremacy in the Deccan.
In 1804, General Wellesly proclaimed the Deccan in a state of chaos,
established military rule and the peshwas remained rulers in name only.
Towards the end of 1805 Sir James Mackintosh, the Chief Justice of
Bombay (1804-1811), came from Bombay to visit Colonel Close, the
Resident at Pune. The Residency on the 'Sangam'(confluence of the Mula
and Mutha rivers) Mackintosh describes as a set of bungalows, fitted
conveniently and luxuriously. Pune city had its principal streets paved
with stone, and was reckoned one of the best built native towns in
India. The Peshwa's residence, that is the Shaniwar wada, added to
Pune's glory. Between 1805 and 1811, under Colonel Close and for a short
while under Mr. Russel, affairs went smoothly in Pune.
In 1811, Mr. Russel was succeeded by the Honorable Mountstuart
Elphinstone. Bajirao was very disloyal to the British, and in November
of 1817, he declared war against them. This battle was fought at Kirkee,
that is the Cantonment area, in the east of Pune. The Peshwa fled and
the power of the country passed from the Peshwas to the British by 1819.
The rest of the nineteenth century witnessed a few minor uprisings in
and around Pune, but the British established their supremacy.
The first step towards establishing a municipal government in the city
of Pune, was taken in 1856, when the Pune Municipality came into
existence under the Act of 1850. The fact that Pune is not recognized as
a major tourist center, is probably because it cannot boast of
outstanding artistic specimens of architecture, like those of Delhi or
Agra. Yet, it is rich in its associations with the past.
In the early 20th century, the whole of India was in revolt against the
British; yearning for freedom. Mahatma Gandhi launched his movement of
non-violence, and people participated by the thousands in the 'Chale Jao'
('go away') struggle. Paradoxically, Pune witnessed violence when the
Chaphekar brothers killed a British police officer by the name of Mr.
Rand. On one hand, violence overrode the city, on the other,
improvements were made in the education of women and the abolition of
child labor. Independence was attained in 1947, but that was not the end
of violence. Once again, in 1962 and 1965, Pune witnessed wars against
China and Pakistan, respectively. Thus, Pune's history is rich. In 1778
A.D., Pune was a small settlement called Punwadi, consisting of ten to
fifteen houses. Then, nobody had dreamt that soon this Punwadi would
become the headquarters of the great Maratha rulers and the second
capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British raj.