March 25, 2015
It was a pilgrimage after 18 years – a pilgrimage to one of the few places connected directly to Mastani, her property at Pabal where stands the baradari built by Baji Rao at the site of their marriage rites.
After tremendous efforts by the memorial committee, the site is being restored by the Archeological Survey, as per the rules. I drove down with my old friend Dr. Usha Ram, who also shares a yen for history.
The wall surrounding the Baradari site has been completely rebuilt, including the old styles niches all around; kota stone flooring slabs cover most of the inside of the property, save the baradari itself, the green overflowing kabar, the diya kund and the five mysterious graves that were not there 18 years ago on my last visit.
The kabar’s flowering shrub on top needs a close shave, as it is overflowing on all sides. It is surrounded by stones which need to be cleared away. And that ancient diya kund needs a healing touch yet.
But most of all, it is the baradari that needs attention. Once the wall and flooring was done, the attention shifted to the baradari, its damp and stained walls, the beams holding up the eaten away roof, the niches and the support holders in front.
Perhaps they once held up a front shade or chhaja?
The roof has been removed totally to make way for a fresh new one. The timber beams with design also await attention along with the front of the baradari.
The question that hangs over it all:
Can it all be done by April 28 or will Baji Rao’s death anniversary once again be held at Shanivar Wada? Let’s all hope that it comes about – but no haste at the cost of long lasting restoration.
High hopes are attached tothis restoration project. Once it is complete then some attention can be paid to the possible memorial to Baji Rao and Mastani at the site of her Wada land inside Pabal, today a wasteland with no trace of her exquisite old residence.
The tragedy is that right next door to the Mastani property, there used to be a grave of a Pir Baba. Well maintained, neat and clean with its green chadar, 18 years ago.
Now that one grave has grown to two, with a solid platform underneath and fences all round – once again, neat and clean and maintained; while the Mastani property, for which orchards and land was given to the family to maintain the property, was allowed to go so badly to seed.
Will Mastani’s woes ever end?