It just happens that we live 5 minutes away from the campus of the University of Pune (UOP). I learnt from wikipedia that it stretches over 411 acres. That sounds really nice considering the urban sprawl that is quickly encapsulating Pune city- not unlike many other places in the world.
We used to go very often a couple of years ago. I used to take Bebu by myself during the quiet morning hours when she was younger. I am not sure when and why we stopped visiting, but this weekend we decided to go exploring the campus again.
Some choices in life do get rewarded well, and boy, did we get rewarded indeed!
The UOP campus has a serene quietness to it. Open lawns, bugs, fallen leaves, the seemingly "forever" under construction clock tower, a fountain that I have never seen work in the recent past, a small but functional playground tucked away to a corner and a wide variety of towering trees just seem to give the place an air of the "old" times. A bit mysterious, marginally derelict, but yet so charming.
There was just the celebration of Spring everywhere. The lawns had been prepared for new grass which had already started to catch on. The colors were laid out on a platter for everyone to savor. There were students poring over their notes, a few families playing together, couples catching a quiet moment to themselves. Bebu wanted to know what "University" meant and Hubs told her it was a "Temple of Learning".
Bebu ran through the shrubbery covered gate to one side to enter what she called "The Enchanted Garden". Sections of the gardens were planted with flowering plants of varying shades and hues.There were beautiful flowers everywhere. Pink, purple, violet, yellow. The children and Hubs were very excited to stumble upon this visual treat. Both my children were in pink! It almost seemed almost too coincidental that some kind gardeners had picked our favorite colors to be showcased so marvelously.
Bebu has been getting in to fairy stuff lately and thought the small pink flowers reminded her of "fairy dust". An enchanted garden with fairy dust! Oh! the possibilities with just a little imagination..
One of my favorite parts of the UOP campus is a little path that leads from the main lawns to the side road that heads upto "Y point" where the student cafe is. The path is banked by towering Banyan trees, the branches of which grow down to the soil and catch roots again to become new trees. There is something majestic about these banyan trees. They seem so benevolent. Like wise souls looking over the passers-by. Silent spectators to all the times bygone.
Gingy loved the stone laden path with it's low rise steps. With the evening sunlight streaming through the trees, I couldn't resist taking but a few pictures:)
This green cover also is home to numerous birds. We heard and saw flocks of parrots flying back home. Mynahs, crows, pigeons and even hornbills call this campus home. On our way out through the main building, we ran across the base of an old lamp post and a partially renovated wooden stairwell. Bebu just instinctively reached out to touch the wood. The craftsmanship and old wood just beckoned to be admired!
We walked over to the main ground which was buzzing with the activity of kite flyers, joggers, and local football enthusiasts. Stray dogs, pet dogs, children, grown ups all enjoying the clean air, the open space and the quiet and rejuvenating calm energy of this place.
The specialty about the University which might be frustrating to those that probably have to get anything done there is that it seems to be "stuck in time". It has not changed much since I have seen it as a child. There's an element of timelessness to it which is what makes it a paradoxical mix of things. A place that aims to move knowledge forward yet appears to be in a time warp itself.
The UOP campus- a tranquil and calm place tucked away within the urban chaos that surrounds it. While I have always had a soft spot for many University campuses, this little Temple of Learning is indeed close to my heart- a much cherished gift in my own backyard!