PUNE'S STREET ART PROJECT AT KASBA PETH....

Street Art is often defined as unsanctioned art projects in public spaces, created by artists for themselves, often making a statement or expressing a sentiment against a public subject. Public art can anarchic, it can also be a medium for social change, or it could simply be beautification of an existing cityscape. In my opinion street art is also political, though the degree could be different.


Pune Street Art Project Mural by Kelly Daragh Kasba Peth
A mural by Kelly Darragh
Pune’s tryst with Street Art, so to say, came of age in the year 2013 by a city based street artist Harshvardhan Kadam. He studied visual design at the Design Centre of IIT Bombay, and quickly found his niche in the domain of art, with specific focus on Street art. Pune Street Art Project was his brainchild and since its inception Street Art has started appearing in the most unusual places across the city.

I have been in Pune to close to two years now, but I must confess that I still do not understand the old part of town much. About street art, all I knew was that the walls were getting painted by artists from across the globe in Kasba Peth and so we decided to check it out. It was only about 1.5km from JM road as per google maps and since it was still late morning, we decided to walk. I had never quite walked on the streets connecting the two areas before and so it was a visual discovery of sorts for me. I almost felt like I saw everything for the first time! Very odd.

However, reaching Kasba Peth was still only half the battle won. Kasba Peth is a fairly large area and so even after reaching there we had no clue about where to start. This is when technology came to our rescue once again. I quickly found Harshvardhan Kadam and his Facebook page and it had his number listed right there. And guess what - even on a Sunday morning he not just picked up the phone, but also gave us suggestions on how to start our walk. His tip was simple, reach the first art piece and then explore the area around. And this is exactly what we did. However, if someone plans to do this walk by themselves and have much less time than us (we had the entire Sunday), following is the path we followed. You can follow this, but do make sure that you also get lost once in a while and explore not just street art, but also Pune’s heritage and culture through the narrow lanes in the area.

If you coming by car, drive to JM road and park the car near the Lakshmibai statue. From there walk towards Kasba pet and ask for Gaokos Maruti temple. As you walk towards the temple from Tilak statue you will come across the first mural by Preetal aka ZERO even before the temple.

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Zero
Mural by Zero
Please do understand that finding these gems on the wall is almost like a treasure hunt, some of these are hidden deep into lanes and you might have to walk randomly into some lanes on hunch or ask around to be able to find them. Gaokos temple is rather small temple and you can easily miss it so keep asking for directions. Right opposite to the temple is Kryptonite which even the locals described as a rocket or a missile, something to take one to another planet. The name of the artist is Note.

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Kryptonite Note
Kryptonite by Note
Follow the lane of the temple and you will come across two more - one is a beautiful Mirabai by Maria of Vitae Viazi (developed with local resident Darshana Bhalgat) and the other one by the same artist is an unnamed alien ship. We asked the people on whose house this was painted and in their opinion this was the spaceship of Spartans. We were impressed by the creative responses :)

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Mirabai Vitae VIzai
Mirabai by Maria of Vitae Viazi
Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Vitae Viazi
Aliens by Maria of Vitae Viazi

To reach the next hub of street art, ask for Cycle Dawakhana chowk. Its about fifteen minutes walk and the reward for walking is immense. The art on the walls is very colourful and strangely also blends very well with the texture of the houses. On one hand there is a mural of Pune’s iconic Dhol Pathaks, a tiger and a fish chasing a fish chasing another fish. 

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth fish
Fish, fish and fish...
Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth little girl
The little girl
Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth dhol pathak
Dhol Pathak!
Pawale chowk is the next stop and is just about ten minutes walk away. But even before you reach the chowk look out into a lane on the left and you will be rewarded by one of my favourite mural. Its a man’s face but we also asked the people around and heard some rally interesting insights - some called it a South American king while others called it a tribal from Africa. The artist is Kelly Darragh from Australia and you can check out her work here

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Kelly Darragh jumping
Jumping with Kelly's art as background...
Pawale chowk has two murals by Miles Toland from USA and both of these belong to the series called Geometric Abductions - paintings that captures the euphoric playfulness of transcending space and time. Harmonic geometries echo the form of a human body that has suddenly dematerialized into a lucid moment. The remaining forms of the clothing recalls a mixed feeling of flying, falling, and abduction. As I said it earlier, ask people about where you can locate these. We had passed by the mural the first time we crossed the cross-road because they are not always so easy to spot.


Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Harmonics Geometrics Miles Toland
Harmonic Geometrics by Miles Toland
Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Miles Toland
Another Harmonic Geometrics by Miles Toland
I had a few more to see in the area but we had no clue on how to locate them, so we decided to go to the one we knew. We had seen the huge Crocodile mural done by the Artist Amitabh Kumar, by the side of the river while crossing the Shivaji bridge and so decided to find a way down to reach. The mural is absolutely mammoth and I loved the use of black and white as well, though M felt it lacked some colors.

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Crocodile Amitabh Kumar
Crocodile by Amitabh Kumar

The river marks the old city from the new - compactly dividing the two Punes that exist as one. Echoing this tension, the mural marks the point where after the 1961 floods a large section of the population crossed over from the old city to create a new Pune. The city continues to grow. On the banks of the Mutha stands मिठुन - watching over an unchanging city hold its own against the shimmering lights from across the river.

At this stage we made a small mistake and decided to walk upto SM Joshi Bridge for the next mural. It was hot afternoon sun and we were pretty much exhausted by the time we reached there. However, we discovered two interesting murals on the way as well, much before we actualy reached the bridge. These are on the road parallel to JM Road, but across the river (actually right next to the river). The first one was actually painted on the wall of a public toilet. This is a beautifully done mural by the city based artist Indrajit Satbhai. The other interesting mural was 'The Insect' by Drift.


Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Indrajit Satbhai
Mural by Indrajit Satbhai
Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Drift
Insect by Drift

The other option would be to simply take an auto rickshaw and ask the driver to take you to Central mall in Kothrud. The mural is by the river, just across the bridge from Central and it’s called ‘The Dwarfs’. The name of the artist is Boris. It was a fantastic finale to our arty day, but it was also one of the most amazing Pune day so far for me in the city :)

Pune Street Art Project Mural Kasba Peth Dwarfs Boris SM Bridge
The Dwarfs by Boris
Once done, you can take an auto-rickshaw back to JM Road, have some coffee there, chill for a while and head back home to relax and think more about the murals.

The best time to explore is early morning and late afternoon. You need not carry food or water as there is plenty throughout the walk.

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