Erected in 1892, the Aga Khan Palace is one of the finest masterpieces of India. It is located in Pune on Pune-Ahmednagar Road near Yerwada and it was Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III who led its construction. The purpose behind it was to serve the poor in the neighborhood of Pune, who were badly struck by famine.
The Aga Khan Palace holds national significance due to its intense association with the freedom movement of India. It was this palace where Mahatma Gandhi along with his wife Kasturba Gandhi and his secretary Mahadev Desai were imprisoned during 1942-1944. This happened just after the start of Quit India Movement. However, Kasturbaji and Mahadev Desai drew their last breath during their enslaved period in the palace . This palace now has their samadhis /tombs in its vicinity. In 1969, Aga Khan IV donated this palace to the Indian Government, paying homage to Gandhi and his philosophy.
The beauty of the palace is worth mentioning. It has Italian arches and luxuriant lawns that are very appealing. Covering a total area of 19 acres involving 7 acre built-up area, it is its magnificence and artistic architecture that will fascinate you. The palace was constructed in about five years with a cost of around 12 lakhs. It has five spacious halls and a corridor of around 2.5 meters around the whole building which is the high point of the palace. In addition, the palace houses the Gandhi National Memorial that highlights the major life events of Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters through photographs and portraits. One can also see the things used by Gandhiji while he stayed there like his clothes, utensils, dining table, rooms where he stayed, his letters etc. His ashes are also placed in this palace. People from all across the world come to visit this palace to salute the memories of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who fought throughout his life for India through his principles of truth and non-violence.
The Gandhi National Memorial Society, which looks after the memorial, is headquartered in this palace. It conducts public activities on several occasions including Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary (October 2), the Independence Day (August 15), Republic Day (January 26), etc. It also holds prayer sessions in the morning at the samadhi which many people attend. The number of visitors increases especially on October 2 when people come to pay homage to Gandhiji on his birth anniversary. In addition, the Gandhi National Memorial Society also entertains a shop named Khaadi Gramudyog Bhandaar that sells khadi and other handmade textiles. It also organizes free classes related to incense sticks, readymade garments, embroidery, candle, chalk-making, etc. for the needy people.
The Aga Khan Palace remains open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can take a bus from Yerwada or hire a rickshaw to reach there. Thus if you have never been to this place, you must visit it to see its beauty and discover the place.