Pune History

Pune, earlier famous as Poona is one of the most important cities of Western India aptly called the ‘Queen of Deccan’ after it’s elevated position atop the Deccan Plateau, it’s salubrious climate and surrounding hills. The city is nicknamed variously such as ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’, the ‘Oxford of East’, ‘Detroit of India’, the cultural capital of Maharashtra’, once the ‘Cycle city ‘ and now the ‘Scooter city ‘ of S. India and upcoming ‘IT-BT’ capital of India.


From a tiny agricultural settlement called ‘Punnaka’ in the 8th century, the city has grown into a metropolis covering more than 700 sq. km. area and supporting about 4 million people. The tiny settlement of the 8th century developed into a small town-Kasbe Pune, during the 11th century under the Moghals.

Since then till 1818, the city changed hands from one dynasty to the other, especially between the Moghals of the Marathas. During the mmid-17th century, the city became the temperary residence of Shivaji. The city rose to prominence when the Peshwas established the seat of Marathas’ empire here(1749 A.D.) During the Peshwa’s rule, the City expanded considerably.

The 1761 defeat at Panipat affected the fate of the Maratha Empire and consequently that of the city. The Maratha rule came to an end at Khadki near Pune, in 1871 when the British defeated them and the city and the environs came under the British rule. Under the British,Pune became the ‘Monsoon Capital’ of the then Bombay Presidency. The Army bases established by the British on the city’s outskirts, were later converted into the cantonments of Pune and Khadki. During the 1850s the Railway rolled into Pune from Mumbai. Pune Municipality was established in 1858.

A number of educational institutes also came up here: the Deccan College (one of the oldest in western India), Engineering College (second oldest in the Subcontinent), Fergusson College (amongst ten most reputed in India), Agricultural College (one of the earliest in the country) to name a few. Pune also houses many research institutes of national and international repute. Pune is also the Headquarters of the Southern Command and has many other defense establishments. The important events in the city’s history, its growth and development include the development of Deccan Gymkhana and other colonies across the river in 1920’s, the establishment of Pune Municipal Co-operation in 1950, influx of refugees from Pakistan (1948-’50), the establishment of an industrial estate in Pimpri-Chinchwad (1960) and the Panshet deluge (1960).

Physical Settings And Climate

Pune (180 31′ N, 730 51′ E) is a plateau city situated near the western margin of the Deccan plateau.It lies on the leeward side of the Sahyadri i.e. the Western Ghats and is hardly 50 km from the crest of the Ghat country. As the crow flies, it is 100 km east from the Konkan i.e the west coast. It is almost 160 kms south-east of Mumbai, by road. It is situated at a height of 560m above the mean sea level, near the confluence of Mula and Mutha rivers.Two more rivers Pavana and Indrayani transverse the north-western outskirtsof the urban area.Mula-Mutha later empty into the Bhima river. In a sense, the city is located in the upper Bhima basin. The city is surrounded by hills on the east and the south. The Simhagad-Katraj-Dive ghat range is the southern boundary of the urban area. The highest point within the city is the Vetal hill (800 m) whereas the highest point of the urban area is the Simhagad fort (1400 m).

The climate is typical monsoonal, with three distinct seasons- summer, rains and winter,as elsewhere in India.The height above sea leveland the leeward location with reference to the Western ghats have made the city climate moderate and salubrious. The mean daily maximum and the mean minimum for the hottest month – May is 370 Celsius and 230 Celsius respectively. The evening sea breeze from west/northwest keeps the city summer nights at bearable levels. The same for the coldest month of December are 300 Celsius and 120 Celsius respectively. The relative humidity ranges from 36% in March to 81% in August. Three fourths of the annual rainfall of 70 cm occurs in just four months from June to September.

The Growth in Population and Area

When the British captured Pune by defeating the Maratha (1818), the city was hardly 5 sq. km. The city gradually expanded during the British rule with the formation of Pune Municipality and the establishment of Pune, Khadki and Dehuroad cantonments. The city expanded explosively after the post independence period. The physical growth of the city and of the urban area since 1817 and the reasons therein are shown in the following table1. During the 180 yr period (1817-1997), the Pune urban area has grown from a mere 5sq.km to 700sq.km which is 140 times the original area! Table 2 shows that between 1901 & 2001 (estimated) Pune’s urban population has grown from 1.64 lakh to about 42 lakh (estimated figure for 2001) which is 25 times the original figure. The density of population of pune city was 8672 persons per sq. km (1981), whereas it was about 5000 persons per sq. km for urban area.

Change In Landuse

During the 1970’s the urban activities spilled beyond the erstwhile city limits and it was felt that for comprehensive and integrated planning, a metropolitan region converging on Pune be defined. Accordingly, Pune metropolitan region was established in July,1967. Pune urban area or agglomeration as recognised by Central Govt. includes the areas under Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad corporations. Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road Cantonments and a few semi-urbanised villages on the periphery. The total Pune urban area is about 700 sq. km. The total area of Pune metropolitan region is 1605 sq. km. The study area for the ‘Pune alive project’ described in this volume is by and large within 25 km of the city centre. The study area more or less coincides with the metropolitan area. Hence for comparitive study, landuse figure for the metropolitan region has been taken into consideration (Table 3). Following changes appear striking between 1967 and 1998.

  1. The area under settlement has increased 2-4 times during these 30 yrs.

  2. The area under Agriculture and Grassland-Scrub has decreased by 31% and 39% respectively.

  3. The area under ‘Hills and Forests’ and watersheets remain apparently same, though there are some encroachments over some hillslopes.

To conclude, the urban sprawl appears to be at the cost of Agriculture and Grassland-Scrub, especially the later.


Anon 1885 Poona District Gazetteer.

Anon 1970. Summary of Regional Plan for Poona Metropolitan Region: 1970-1991. Government Press, Pune.

Anon 1986. District Census Handbook, Government press, Pune.

Anon, 1986. District Census Handbook. Government Press, Pune.

Anon 1991.Census staistics- 1991. The Maharashtra Census Directorate, Bombay.

Anon, 1998. IRS-1D:PAN+LISS 3 image of Pune urban area. National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderbad.

Anon, 2000. ‘India-2000: Observer Statistical Handbook. Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.

Sawant, P. B. 1978. The City of Poona. University of Pune, Pune.

Areal Expansion-Pune City and Pune Urban Areas

Area (Sq. km.)

Year PuneCity Urban Area Reason for expansion
1817 5.0 ———–
1860 7.6 34.71 Formation of Pune Municipality, establishment of Pune and khadki cantonments.
1940 18.84 81.95 Establishment of Dehuroad cantonment
1950 125.75 188.86 Pune Municipal Corporation formed
1970 138.76 266.88 Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Council established
1982 146.00 314.11 Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation formed
1997 440.00 700.00

Merging of 38 & 18 fringe villages in to Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Corporations respectively.

Population Growth of Pune Urban Area

Year Population (in lakh)
1901 1.64
1911 1.72
1921 1.98
1931 2.50
1941 3.24
1951 6
1961 7.37
1971 11.35
1981 16.86
1991 24.94
2001 42.00 (estimated)

Landuse change at Pune Metropolitan Region

Area Under Each Catagory (%)
Landuse Catagory 1967 1998
Settlements 17.33 41.00
Agriculture 61.26 42.11
Watersheets 02.25 02.25
Hills and Forest 07.64 07.64
Grassland and scrub 11.52 07.00
Total 100.00 100.00

Leave a Reply