The Glorious Marathi era
Built-in 1732, the Shaniwar Wada of Pune was the greatest seat of power of the Peshwas of Maratha Empire until 1818. The story goes that Shrimant Peshwa Bajirao once saw a rabbit chasing a dog in this place. Taking inspiration from this, Shaniwar Wada was built, a place which would never see defeat.
The fort itself was largely destroyed by an unexplained fire and has also stood tall all the way through Panshet floods of 1961. In the present day, the surviving structures are maintained as a tourist site.
As I had a couple of hours free in the city I decided to take a stroll at this place where once upon a time stood the greatest seat of power of the Peshwas. I had already heard a lot about the glory and grandeur of Shaniwar Wada and also already watched the Bollywood movie “Bajirao Mastani”.
1. Dilli Darwaza
As I make my way through to the center of the city and the chaos, I get the first sight of these walls which are made of ancient brick structures. Excited I get inside through the Dilli Darwaza (Door) which was made big enough to let elephants through. On the door, you see the sharp spikes to stop any uninvited guests.
2. The Courtyard and its Fountains
Inside Shaniwar Wada is a place like a courtyard with remains of the ancient fort perfectly converted into a beautiful garden in the center. A stroll beside the garden and you can see beautiful fountains one of which called the “Hazari Karanje” (a fountain of a thousand jets) which had sixteen jets of water along with the sixteen lotus petals making an 80 Foot arch.
3. The Palace Walls
You can either take a stroll through these gardens or take a walk on the wall which goes all around the fort, with unique scenes of the city outside and the courtyard inside, from atop.
4. Architectural Remains
The beauty of the place speaks for itself and when you come to the intricately designed pillars, the beautiful wood flooring and the equally beautiful sitting area which overlooks the courtyard below, all of them in reasonably good shape it will make you appreciate their architectural perfection.
5. Haunted Story of Shaniwar Wada
After some interaction with the locals, I got to know an interesting story about the Spirit of Shaniwar Wada. The fort has experienced brutal killing of Bajirao’s Grandson Narayanrao on the orders of his own relatives. It is even believed that his spirit even today screams “Kaka Mala Wachwa” (Uncle! Please save me) on every Full moon night.
As you walk out of this magnificent building after spending a good couple hours, you will not help but imagine how would it had been during the Peshwa-era, when this was the seat of power where rulers whose names are written in bold in our history, ruled from here.
How to reach Shaniwarwada:
Get to Pune and in the centre lies Shaniwar Wada, really hard to miss it as it stands in the middle of the city’s chaos.
What to see:
The Palace, The Hazari Fountain, Dilli Darwaza, Other Fountains, Walk on the Palace Walls.
Best time to Visit:
Any time of the year. Open from 9 am till 5:30 pm
Entry Fees: Indian Tourist: INR 25 per head; Non-Indian Tourists: INR 300 per head (separate charges for Video Equipments)
Light and Sound Show Timings: 7 to 7:40 pm and 8 to 8:40 pm
Light and Sound Show Fees: INR 50 per head