This carved portico was part of the three-storey palace built in the 18th century that belonged to the peshwas of Maharashtra (today, one of the states of the Republic of India), who were hereditary Prime-Ministers.
In 1910 Mikhail Andreev, an orientalist and vice-consul of Russia in Bombay, decided, during his visit to the city of Nashik, to see a local attraction: the former palace of the peshwas. His English guidebook mentioned it as a fine example of wood carving. The three-storey palace that was covered with fine carving impressed him greatly. That is why he was stunned when he heard that its owner had decided to sell the wooden building for firewood. Although he could not afford to save the whole of this unique monument of Indian timber architecture, M. Andreev bought part of the terrace and sent it by sea to the St. Petersburg Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.
As M. Andreev justly said, this palace was an example of “the finest ancient art” that even at that time could rarely be found in India. In the ancient times, timber was the main building material in India. Later, however, stone began to be used more widely for construction and decoration of buildings, and the number of timber buildings fell steadily. Timber buildings did not last long in the humid Indian climate; besides, they were quickly destroyed by various insects. This portico is a unique exhibit, as only a few such carved wooden structures of the same age have preserved.