Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Taljai Bhoot Bunglow
Legend-Trippin' Perfection! The Talzai hilltop house and environs were built as a pleasuredrome in the 19th century by the Peshwas and gifted to their loyal Sardar (General) Thuve. The rest of the story borders on myth and a lot of handed-down and overheard information (I personally spoke to an old shepherd in the nearby meadow and the watchman of a park further up the mountain road and they had similar concepts about the history). It seems the Thuves fell on black days, and their wealth dwindled so that only this edifice remained, where the last of them drowned himself in women and wine.
An emotional fellow, he marked the end of their line when, after a dancing girl spurned his love, he chopped her up in little pieces and then hung himself in the hallway, perhaps thinking it to seal the final coming-together of their souls in the eternal afterlife. As it turns out, the girl never forgave his Jack-the-ripper impression and the other-worldly consolidation failed to materialise, with the tortured souls causing even more grief to those still battling the cycle of life and death on this terrestrial ball.
Unsuspecting trespassers were soon relating gory stories of ectoplasmic encounters in separate locations in the building. Though never seen together, it is believed the basement 'playroom' still comes alive after dark, with the sound of the dancing girl's ghunghroos (anklets) going "chham-chham", while the love-drunk wino may be observed staggering in and around the house. The building in the day offers a panoramic birdseye of Pune with Parvati Hill appearing just a stone's throw.
A sadder coup de grace in its story was dealt when the roof collapsed in 2004 from the beatings of the monsoons, taking with it the mosaic floor of the open-air bathing pool contained by it. The authorities, hopefully, are working on restoration measures. Spooky at night, yet beautiful by day, offering a view of the city amid the greens of the hills and the ruins of history - this is a not-to-be-missed heritage sight for all eyes sore or otherwise from the maudlin, antithetic glares of love-celebrationary marble monuments.