Municipal authorities form squad to nab culprits
Bhor, a former princely state that is now the southern taluka of Pune district, is known for middle-era temples, ghats, buildings and wadas steeped in Maratha-style architectures. Now a municipal council, the town is also famed for British era bridges, step-wells and several other architectural structures of historical importance. Many Bollywood blockbusters such as Bajirao Mastani filmed major portions of the movies at the scenic locale.
However, over the past few months, the historical heritage of the city seems to be under threat from unidentified gangs that are allegedly robbing the place of its architectural wonders. The precious stone carvings are reportedly going missing from these early structures. Unable to nab the culprits, Bhor Municipal Council (BMC) has now formed a squad to crack down on the miscreants.
The municipal body has also appealed to the citizens to keep a tab on such antisocial elements.
Rocks engraved with nakashi art are apparently the prime target of the culprits. Stones from wells, building complexes, temples and old wadas are fast disappearing. BMC officials suspect that these priceless historical stone carvings are smuggled to be then used to adorn farmhouses in Pune and Mumbai.
Sachin Deshmukh, a local resident who works towards conserving the historical architecture, alleged, “Since past few months, heavy stones with intricate carvings are disappearing overnight. Many structures are getting defaced and weakened because of these illegal activities. BMC, which has the responsibility of protecting and conserving these assets, is not paying any attention to the grave crisis.”
“Most of the old buildings belong to the princely state era and are privately owned by the relatives of the then rulers called Pant Sachiv. But they mostly stay out of Bhor now. The other publicly owned structures such as ghats along the riversides, bridges, vrindavans, stone-carved water tanks, fountains, tombs and wells are being targeted by the robbers,” he lamented.
Babasaheb Jadhav, another resident, added, “The architectural wonders are testimonies to the past grandeur. The casual approach of the authorities is robbing us of our heritage. They need to seek help from the law enforcement department.”
“Conserving these assets would boost tourism in the town,” he added.
When asked, Nirmala Aware, president, BMC, elaborated, “The trend of stealing the engraved stone structures increased during the COVID-19 lockdown. We are taking action to nab the culprits and have also formed a squad to detect the miscreants. We have also appealed to the public to come forward and share if they get any specific information about the thieves.”