The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune has one of the largest collections of rare books and manuscripts in South Asia. Within the grounds of the institute, next to the main building, stands an impressive guest house. It was built in 1933 with funds granted by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad.
The guest house was built to accommodate the researchers and scholars who used to visit the institute for study and research. According to historians, along with the funds of Rs. 50,000/- for the construction of the guest house, the Nizam had also granted Rs. 1,000/- per year for 11 years for the publication of the Mahabharata by the institute.
On April 15, 1948, Dr. M. R. Jayakar was appointed as the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Poona (later the University of Pune and now Savitribai Phule Pune University). He was in search of a place to establish the office of the varsity and start working, since the current university building was then the seasonal retreat and monsoon residence of the Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai) and was called the Governor House.
Dr. R. N. Dandekar, the then secretary of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute suggested Dr. Jayakar to set up the university office at the Nizam’s Guest House. Soon thereafter, the office of the university was started from here and was located here until June 1, 1949.
In 1949, the University was allocated land of over 411 acres, which is its current campus. The erstwhile Governor’s House has become the main office building of the university since then.
The Nizam’s Guest House is a beautiful stately building with elegantly designed balconies, windows, corridors, and archways. It has been declared a Grade 1 Heritage Structure and is evocative of a bygone era, reminding passersby of the city’s fascinating history.