In the 18 th and 19 th century the main market in Pune was held in a large open space between Shaniwarwada the capital palace of the Peshwas. In 1886 Reay market was built by the British colonial rulers on a site between Tulsibaugh and Rameshwar temple in Shukrawar Peth on a 4 acre site.After Independence it was renamed Mahatma Phule Mandai. Mandai in Marathi means traditional market.
Now mandai is a bustling market packed with 526 stalls selling fruits and vegetables.
Onion potato stalls
Stall no 14, 15 and 17 are on the outside of the central tower base within the market.
All stall owners are 4 the generation owners and have the license to sell onion and potatoes from the British era. They cannot sell anything else. They had combined all 3 stores during the Covid lockdown and after 2 months when restrictions eased they again went back to individual stores.
Shobana the owner of this stall No 17 has been a widow for the last 4 months.She has a son with a heart problem who is now getting ready for the 12 grade exams. She is surrounded by the pictures of Gods and Gurus. She always stops at a temple early morning before opening he stall at 7 am.
Satish Jagtap runs this stall along with his two brothers. His Great grandmother started this stall. Sorting potatoes according to size and quality seemed so easy when watching him in action.
Bannna leaf shop
Avinash Maruti Chandu and Bunty are all 4 th generation shop owners of 5 shops who joined hands during The first Covid lockdown to share expenses and profit. They said Mandai already has a history of co operation between the shop owners.
Even when the lockdown eased they continued working together. They run this place from 7 am to 7 pm.
The bannana leaves come from Jalgaon in the morning. These leaves are then sorted by size and quality.Damaged leaves are discarded and The mildly damaged ones are chopped further to be sold to hotels.The whole leaves are kept for weddings.
In December 1993 students of Nath Hari Purandare Primary School had gone for a picnic.Their bus was hit by a speeding train at the unmanned Phursungi railway level crossing. The clock was set up at Mandai in memory of the 38 children who lost their lives in this tradegy. The clock still ticks but the 3.5 m tall schoolboy statue who would come out to ring the bell every hour from a glass case has stopped working since 2005.