The Lost Kingdom - Mahatma Phule Mandai, Pune

The Lord just might be watching you!

My first rendezvous with the concept of ‘a Photowalk’ was at the Mahatma Phule Mandai, Pune. It was 21st of Oct 2010 when me and a couple of my friends decided to go for a 'photowalk'. I borrowed a DSLR (since i don't own one) and there we were standing in front of Mandai at 6 am! But boy did we know what an amazing experience it was going to be! The place is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet with its offerings of ethnicity, energy and serenity within the chaos. It very aptly is the quintessential Pune that is by far lost with the exponential blow-up of the city. The crowd, be it the shopkeepers or the buyers, exemplifies the perfect ‘Kaamashi Kaam theva’ attitude or infamously tagged as ‘The Puneri attitude’. But watching them show off that attitude is a pleasure in itself (of course until it happens with you). It puts a smile on your face may be because a joke was made out of someone or may be because it gives you the feel of what original Pune was like.

Having said that, I also have experienced the benevolent half of these people. When you point your camera on to their faces, they do not reprimand you or charge on you with their quiver of Marathi swear words or angry gestures. They rather keep their arrogance in their scabbard and pose for you, even if their shop is packed with the Sunday crowd. They get excited on seeing the big camera every single time. They smile, pose and if not anything they just stand still wondering what the gadget I was holding was! It is then that you understand that these ‘Punekars’, those everyone loves to criticize are just very simple hard working (up to a limit) individuals who try to protect their interests by being stingy and arrogant. I would call it their defense mechanism. Some prefer physical combat, others might prefer indirect physical or intangible damage, but Punekars, I think prefer offhand comments and stinginess.

The Divine Intervention!

He actually did pose that way for a few seconds before he ran off.

I came across an array of people here; old people trying to make ends meet, young industrious individual trying to make a mark, some other old people who should have retired long ago but still working just because it’s a habit now and some others wasting their youth over chillum. Amongst this struck me an old man, sitting by a pillar enjoying the morning healthy sun, doing some calculations and resembling Rabindranath Tagore. He was sitting peacefully on a Sunday morning enjoying his retired blithe life. And that is probably the life I desire post retirement; peaceful and stress free. (The pictures of some of these people are at the end of the article)

   Moving on to what Mandai feels like. Well it’s an absolute bonanza for artists and writers alike. It offers you a certain firsthand intimacy with history. The almost 128 year old structure equipped with more than 1400 stalls illustrates a blend of the new and the bygones. When the morning light pierces through windows placed atop, it gives the perception of divine intervention as they used to show in the old Ramayana and Mahabharata shows. The early morning light beaming through, fills the place with positive energy and freshens the mood. I suggest you to try going here on an early Sunday morning with an open eye and mind, and not shopping bags. I bet you’ll see a whole new side to this historic structure and the people.

The Royal Advisor of the Lost Kingdom!
The dude who resembles Mr. Tagore

The wise Old Man of the Lost Kingdom!
The Aam Aadmi of the Lost Kingdom!
The industrious Businessman of the Lost Kingdom!
The ignorant hence happy toddler of the Lost Kingdom!
The royal Weirdo of the Lost Kingdom!
The shy Princess of the Lost Kingdom!
The wicked Queen of the Lost Kingdom!
The 'High' King of the Lost Kingdom!

Camera: Nikon D3100 with Nikorr 18-55mm


  1. Pictures are beautiful! Very well written!!

  2. Aray lai bhari....... ekdum jangi blog ahe.... mazhya jangi partysarkha.... more to come........ :) :)

    1. tujhi jangi party ajun kahi anubhavayala nahi milali :-P

  3. Your pics are superb!! good work!

  4. I especially liked the use of the epithet "The lost kingdom" for Mandai. Beautiful pictures... and how apt! The writing is very engaging.

    1. Thats probably the best comment i got so far :-D
      Thanks a lot