Sawai Madhavrao was the youngest member to be conferred Peshwa paraphernalia, at the age barely above a month. The trusteeship of operating the Maratha affairs fell on the consortium of ministers led by finance minister, Nana Phadnis. Against the backdrop of Narayanrao’s (father of Sawai Madhavrao) homicide and looming hazard to his security from enemies of the state and close to residence, Nana Phadnis was personally dedicated to upbringing of the young Peshwa.
In order to entertain the young youngster and divert his consideration from private tragedy, Nana Phadnis launched him to company of animals at a young age. This assortment of animals was distinctive of its sort in the Deccan and there was an everyday division opened in Poona for its maintenance. Nana Phadnis as soon as ordered an unique ostrich for Madhavrao’s assortment, but it surely died alongside the method. Unfamiliar with the nature of unseen chook, Nana Phadnis asks for a drawing of useless chook as a substitute, so as to fulfill his curiosity!
In Sai Madhavrao’s instances, the Shikarkhana (plot close to Sarasbaug) prolonged to nearly 45 acres and occupied land as much as current day, Dattawadi. It was not a zoo of captive animals in cages, however extra like a sanctuary of animals the place it had been free to roam, restricted solely by ropes and log chains.
Peshwa chronicles present an inventory of varied animals and birds that had been half of Sawai Madhavrao’s Shikarkhana — 700-750 rabbits, 200-250 deer, blackbucks, 11 cheetahs, 20 Royal Bengal tigers, lions, rhinoceros, varied birds akin to peacocks, partridges, mynas, parrots, water hens, geese, pigeons and cranes had been half of the royal assortment. Exotic animals akin to lynx, double humped Bacterian camel and alpine birds may very well be discovered on this eclectic menagerie; it contained best specimens of brute creatures that existed.
Mahadaji Shinde gifted Sawai Madhavrao with rhinoceros procured from north India. Rhinoceros roamed on an open floor named ”Gendemal”.
Major Price who visited Pune in 1791 recollects his expertise of visiting the Peshwa menagerie in following phrases:
“Next to the lion, and equally as accessible to the fresh air, was, also fastened in the same manner, the finest and most perfect model of a rhinoceros, that I have ever seen, either before or since. For, unlike the shapeless monster that we usually see exhibited, with his body enveloped in loose and flaccid folds of indurated hide, this stupendous animal was filled out to its utmost proportions; and its huge armour-like exterior being stretched almost to bursting, it was as round as a hogshead; and at the same time as lively, I was going to say, as any sucking pig. Indeed, when the keeper, by a slight touch with his wand made him rear up a little on his hind legs, while the alertness surprised me, I could not but compare him to a wine pipe, set a little on one end.
“At all events, the ponderous agility of the animal was astonishing. Its small, but prominent eye, appeared sparkling, and full of animation; and the horny mass upon its snout, though it did not yet seem to have attained to its full growth, by its backward turn and hook-like shape, furnished sufficient proof, that when applied by a momentum of such force, its effect must be tremendous; and renders less surprising the accounts we receive of its power to subdue the otherwise surpassing strength of the elephant.”
Around 7-8 acres was particularly reserved for varied deer species and blackbucks close to Lotan baug. The antelopes had an ear for music and had been educated to bounce and swing for function of leisure. Sir Charles Malet remembers occasion from 1792 the place Sawai Madhavrao invited him to witness a particular spectacle in deer park. All the dignitaries had been conveniently seated on carpets in pitched tents together with young Peshwa.
He quotes “Four black buck antelopes, of noble vein and elegant form, made their appearance at some distance, moving gracefully before a party of cavalry, who forming a semi-circle, gently followed their pace, each horseman holding a long pole, with a red cloth at the end. On approaching the tent, a band of music struck up in loud notes, and three of the antelopes entered in a stately manner. Two swings, commonly used by the Indians, being suspended for the purpose, an antelope ascended on each swing, and couched in the most graceful altitude; the third reclined on the carpet in a similar posture.”
Malet was astonished to witness the blackbucks danced to musical tunes together with the feminine dancers and carry out the most sleek dance! Sawai Madhavrao, later, knowledgeable Malet that coaching blackbuck to return to this diploma of familiarity took seven months with out holding them hostage in any method!
Sir James Wales was so impressed by the Peshwa menagerie that he ordered his achieved trainee chitari, Gangaram Tambat to make clay fashions and work of varied animals.
The base of Parvati hill housed the tigers in an enclosed yard. Two tigers had been particularly despatched by Lord Malet from Calcutta presidency as a present. One tiger named Shambhu was stark yellow in color and most favorite.
His love for animals is clear from the proven fact that he refused to lend a blackbuck to Mahadji Shinde for concern of it getting killed. On being assured of its security and use for breeding extra blackbucks, Sawai Madhavrao gifted Mahadji Shinde with a blackbuck male.
Sawai Madhavrao was notably fond of a cheeky macaque referred to as “Kabu” which was infamous for its naughtiness and entertained the inhabitants of Shaniwarwada with its foolish monkey play!
Sawai Madhavrao was so fond of his animals that he carried a small half of his Shikarkhana throughout the marketing campaign of Kharda. His love for animals was so well-known that bards have imagined varied animals and birds crying insolently on listening to the unlucky dying of Sawai Madhavrao, in the Marathi Powadas (heroic eulogised poetry).
Upkeep of these animals was an elaborate affair. One finds curious point out of speaking mynas and singing parrots educated in talking Bengali language! They had been fed with a luxuriously curated weight loss plan of musk combined with spices akin to cardamom, nutmeg, clove and saffron.
Bajirao II (son of Raghunathrao Peshwa), too, maintained a Shikarkhana close to his Kothrud residence. It primarily consisted of numerous birds akin to mynas, pigeons, parrots, geese, and educated chook of prey akin to Peregrine falcons. These had been caged and used primarily for leisure.
As the Maratha Empire got here to an finish in 1818, the looking and gaming by royals continued however the menageries suffered heavy neglect. It was in 1953, the rising Pune metropolis felt a necessity of zoo parks which led municipal company to ascertain “Peshwe Park” housing the wild animals and birds, at roughly the similar location of Sawai Madhavrao’s Shikarkhana. Today, as most of the animals are shifted to greater, higher Katraj backyard, the recollections of young animal loving Sawai Madhavrao’s menagerie barely survive in fading existence of Peshwe Park!
Saili Palande-Datar is an indologist, environmentalist, historical past researcher and farmer. She could be reached @ email@example.com
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