POONA, or PUNA, a city and district of India, in the Central division of Bombay. The city is at the confluence of the Mutha and Mula rivers, 1850 ft. above sea-level and 1 19 m. S.E. from Bombay on the Great Indian Peninsula railway. Municipal area, about 4 sq. m.; pop. (1001), 153,320. It is pleasantly situated amid extensive gardens, with a large number of modern public buildings, and also many temples and palaces dating from the 16th to the igth century. The palace of the peshwas is a ruin, having been destroyed by fire in 1827. From its healthy situation Poona has been chosen not only as the headquarters of the 6th division of the Southern army, but also as the residence of the governor of Bombay during the rainy season, from June to September. The native town, along the river bank, is somewhat poorly built. The European quarter, including the cantonment, extends north-west towards Kirkee. The waterworks were constructed mainly by the munificence of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy. Poona was never a great centre of trade or manufacture though still noted for brass-work, jewelry and other articles of luxury. Cotton-mills, papermills, a brewery (at Dapuri), flour-mills, factories of ice and mineral waters, and dairy farms furnish the chief industries. Educational institutions are numerous. They include the government Deccan College, with a law class; the aided Fergusson college; the government colleges of science and agriculture; high schools; training schools for masters and mistresses; medical school; and municipal technical school. The recent history of Poona has been painfully associated with the plague. During 1897, when the city was first attacked, the death-rate rose to 93 pef 1000 in Poona city, 71 per 1000 in the cantonment, and 93 per 1000 in Kirkee.
The DISTRICT OF POONA has an area of 5349 sq. m. Population (1901), 995,330, showing an increase of 18% after the disastrous famine of 1876-1877, but a decrease of 7% in the last decade. Towards the west the country is undulating, and numerous spurs from the Western Ghats enter the district; to the east it opens out into plains. It is watered by many streams which, rising in the ghats, flow eastwards until they join the Bhima, a river which intersects the district from north to south. The principal crops are millets, pulses, oil-seeds, wheat, rice, sugarcane, vegetables and fruit (including grapes). The two most important irrigation works in the Deccan are the Mutha canal, with which the Poona waterworks are connected, and the Nira canal. There are manufactures of cotton, silk and blankets. The district is traversed by the Great Indian Peninsula railway, and also by the Southern Mahratta line, which starts from Poona city towards Satara. It is liable to drought, from which it suffered severely in 1866-1867, 1876-1877, and again in 1896-1897.
In the 17th century the district formed part of the Mahommedan kingdom of Ahmadnagar. Sivaji was born within its boundaries at Junnar in 1627, and he was brought up at Poona town as the headquarters of the hereditary fief of his father. The district thus was the early centre of the Mahratta power; and when Satara became first the capital and later the prison of the descendants of Sivaji, Poona continued to be the seat of government under their hereditary ministers, with the title of peshwa. Many stirring scenes in Mahratta history were enacted here. Holkar defeated the last peshwa under its walls, and his flight to Bassein led to the treaty by which he put himself under British protection. He was reinstated in 1802, but, unable to maintain friendly relations, he attacked the British at Kirkee in 1817, and his kingdom passed from him.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)