With a legacy of more than 125 years, the magnificent Aga Khan Palace in Pune stands as a glorious testament to history, heritage, and architecture. At the same time, its role in the country’s freedom movement places it amongst the most significant landmarks in India’s modern history. The palace had once served as a prison where Mahatma Gandhi and other eminent leaders of the freedom struggle were lodged. Currently, it serves as the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society and is a prime tourist attraction in Pune. If you are planning to book your hotels in Pune for a trip, make sure to include it in your itinerary.

Looking for more details on this top historical attraction in Pune? This blog gives you a snapshot of everything you should know about Pune’s Aga Khan Palace, including its history, architecture, timings, entry fee, and other interesting and lesser-known facts.

Aga Khan Palace, Pune Quick Info

Location Kalyani Nagar, Pune
Type Palace
Also known as Gandhi National Memorial
Timings 9:00 am to 5:30 pm; every day except national holidays
Entry Fee ₹ 5 for Indians; ₹ 2 for children; ₹ 100 for foreigners
Year of Construction 1892
Commissioned By Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III
Area 19 acres
Status A monument of national importance, the Headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society
Governing Body Gandhi National Memorial Society
Cost of Construction 12 lakh Indian rupees
Architectural Style Islamic style

Aga Khan Palace, Pune: History

It was Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III, the 48th Imam or spiritual head of the Khoja Ismaili religion and the All-India Muslim League’s (AIML) first president, who built this grand palace in the year 1892. He commissioned the construction of the palace to provide employment to the villagers in the famine-struck areas surrounding Pune. It took 5 years for the palace to be constructed and around 1,000 workers were employed in its construction. A total of 12 lakh rupees were spent to build this grand palace.

The palace played a significant role in India’s struggle for freedom. Soon after Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement on 8th August 1942, he was arrested by the British officials and brought to this palace in Pune on 10th August to be kept imprisoned. He was accompanied by Kasturba Gandhi, his personal secretary Mahadevbhai Desai, Sarojini Naidu, Pyarelal Nayar, and Dr. Sushila Nayar. Gandhiji and his colleagues were kept in this palace for almost two years before they were released on 6th May 1944. During this period, Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi breathed their last within the palace premises.

In 1969, Prince Karim El Hussenim Aga Khan IV gave the palace to the Gandhi Smarak Samiti to show his respect towards Mahatma Gandhi. The National Model School was housed in this palace until 1970. In 1974, Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister of India at that time, visited the palace and granted a yearly sum of 2 lakh rupees for its preservation and maintenance. However, over the years, the palace faced much neglect due to the inappropriate distribution of funds. In 2003, it was declared as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).      

Aga Khan Palace Architecture

Located within a sprawling campus, the palace is known for its brilliant Islamic style architecture. It is located on 19 acres of land that includes expansive, well-maintained lawns. The main edifice is built on an area of 7 acres and has 5 huge halls. One of the distinguishing features of the palace architecture is its Italian style arches. A wide corridor of 2.5-meter width encircles the entire building.

The palace is a three-storied structure with a floor area of 1756 sq. meters for the ground floor. The first floor of the palace covers a floor area of 1080 sq. meters while the second floor is built on 445 sq. meters.

Aga Khan Palace, Pune: Today

Today, the Aga Khan Palace serves as a memorial to Gandhiji and his philosophies and is one of the top historical places in Pune. The samadhis (tombs) of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadevbhai Desai are located within the palace premises. There is a samadhi dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi as well, where his ashes are kept.

The palace also houses a museum where a rich collection of memorabilia related to Gandhiji are preserved and displayed. This includes photographs, pictures, and his personal items like clothes, utensils, slippers, and a letter penned by him on his secretary’s death. There is even a shop within the premises where clothing made of handloom textiles and khadi are sold.

Every morning, prayer sessions are held at Gandhiji’s Samadhi, which is attended by a large number of people. The number of attendees increases by many folds on 2nd October on the occasion of Gandhiji’s birth anniversary.

Annual Events Celebrated at Aga Khan Palace, Pune

Several public events are organized and celebrated at the palace by the Gandhi Memorial Society. These include the following:

  • Republic Day celebrations on 26th January
  • Martyr’s Day celebrations on 30th January
  • Maha Shivratri
  • Independence Day celebrations on 15th August
  • Kasturbha Gandhi’s Death Anniversary which is celebrated as Mother’s Day
  • The Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s on 2nd October

Lesser-known Facts about Aga Khan Palace, Pune

  • The memorials for Gandhiji and his wife were designed by a famous Indian architect named Charles Correa.
  • Khadi making is one of the main activities carried out at the palace even today.
  • Gandhiji hoisted the Congress flag at this palace on 26th January 1943 and 26th January 1944.

Attractions near Aga Khan Palace, Pune

  • Bund Garden (3.1 km)
  • Maratha History Museum (3.6 km)
  • National War Memorial (4.6 km)
  • Empress Garden (6.1 km)
  • Pataleshwar Temple (7.5 km)
  • Shaniwar Wada (8.3 km)
  • Mahatma Phule Museum (8.3 km)
  • Shree Omkareshwar Temple (8.5 km)

There is no doubt that the grand Aga Khan Palace is one of the best places to visit in Pune, especially for history buffs. The palace is located in Kalyani Nagar where you can find some of the best restaurants in Pune including Mineority by Saby (1.7 km), Yana Sizzlers (1.8 km), Bounty Sizzlers (2 km), Farzi Café (2.1 km), and Baan Tao (2.9 km), to mention a few. So, go ahead and have a great time in the city.