Fashion Meets History : Shivaji Market Pune

When The Past And Present Collide – A Marriage Of Contemporary Fashion And History

Right through my years in school a weekly visit to the Shivaji Mandai with my mother and younger sister was a ritual. It was a ritual we kids detested and dragging two bored sulking kids to the market was not something my mother enjoyed either, but because of a lack of other options we did it anyway. As soon as you start nearing the periphery of the market you are consumed by the sights and sounds – glistening green chillies, blushing red capsicum, fresh muddy mushrooms, the seductive smell of ripe pineapples, perfectly round sunny yellow lemons and hawkers trying to outbid each other with witty loud slogans selling their wares. My mother wasn’t one to get taken away by slick sellers and their crafty tricks, she has her trusted sources for each one of her kitchen essentials and she headed straight to them. Lemons were carefully selected from the bald toothless Shinde who sat right at the entrance, chillies from the round aaji right in the middle of the mandai and juicy mangoes from the softspoken Aslam bhai.We watched as she picked, bargained and sealed the deal at exactly the price she desired, it would leave her feeling triumphant and us awestruck by her skill.

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

We never really cared much for this ritual, we only cared for the street food party my mother would bribe us with. The treats were different each time and meticulously planned by us, sometimes it would be pani puri at Jaishankar, cut dosas near Bata chowk, Bombay sandwich or dhoklas in the old gullies running parallel to the mandai. As we grew up, things changed and the ritual died, but the memories still exist, each time I come anywhere near the mandai, I feel the urge to walk through it, to relive my childhood days, days of being dragged by mummy to help her carry those heavy bags of veggies home. I do wish now that I had been a little more open and receptive to the experience because it really is a treat for all the senses. I was blinded by my stubbornness to ensure that I did not enjoy the experience, that I never did – the lush colours, the fresh smells, the warm people, the beautiful structure and all the heritage the Mandai stood for.

With this post I wish to honour a memory I never appreciated and to document and learn about the heritage of a place that played such an important part of my life.

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

Shivaji Market Pune : The Location

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

 Shivaji Market was built in 1885, by British Lt.Gen John Ross to a design by Gen Cecil D’Urban LaTouche and W.M Ducat , it cost Rs 1,23,800. The entrance and the vast stretch of wall that surrounds it, is made of grey granite stones and is reminiscent of the 18th century construction. Inside you will find an open structure supported by numerous beautiful but simple pillars that  have held the mandai on their able shoulders for over a 100 years. If you take a second to look up at the ceiling, yes you will notice a ton of dirt and years of accumulated cobwebs, but if you can look beyond all of that, you will find beauty in the coloured glass lattice windows through which sunlight streams in creating an alluring dance of light and colour. The stalls inside are tiny, but enough to display and sell a variety of goods. These little stalls were allotted years ago and are passed down from generation to generation. If you talk to any vendor you will know that they have learnt and acquired the skills and the space from generations of forefathers.

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

Over the years the market has swollen and spilled over to the road adjacent to it, so much so that sometimes people might not even realize that the real Shivaji Market lies hidden behind the bustling street outside. If you do look for the little doors on the street, that lead into the market, walk in and I am sure you will notice a distinct vintage stamp. The walls have some carved heads, embedded plaques and rounded arches, all pointing to vintage architecture, unfortunately these treasures have not been as lovingly preserved as they should. There are stretches where the beautiful old stones and carvings have been haphazardly painted with a coat of cheap paint, there are ugly wires that hide most of its beauty. In-spite of all this, it is a charming little market which reeks of a glorious time gone by.

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

Lucknowi Chikankari Kurta : Indian Fashion

Lets talk about the fashion bit, I am wearing a summery Lucknowi chikankari kurta, however I have given this traditional Indian silhouette a bit of a modern twist by wearing the kurta as a dress and adding a belt to  cinch in the waist. Leopard print always adds a little drama, hence the shoes.

The lovely brass bangles with ghungroos are vintage and have a story of their own .

Shivaji Market Pune Chikankari Dress

Fashion Meets History : Shinde Chhatri Pune

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