An epic seat inside the palace!
Shaniwar Wada was the office for administration of the Maratha Kings operating out of Pune. The Peshwas were proxy administrators and rulers for Chatrapati Shivaji. Shaniwar Wada is in the heart of the city surrounded by old buildings and narrow lanes with heavy traffic.
It is believed that the construction of this Palace was started in the year 1730 on a Saturday (Shaniwar and hence the name) and completed on a Saturday, as a residence for Bajirao I. This fort has become even more popular as a tourist destination after the release of the super hit Bollywood period film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’, a love story of Bajirao and a Muslim royal beauty, singer-cum-dancer called ‘Mastani’ of course! Some portions are believed to have been shot on site.
Aside: There was this young couple walking along with me inside the palace remains. The young man asked whether i was from another city and i said ‘Yes, i am from Chennai’. He then made small talk and commented on how dry and boring this palace really was. I said if ‘Mastani’ were to dance here everyday and entertain us tourists, the palace would not be so boring after all! He laughed and parted ways.
The History: Five generations of Bajiraos’ had lived till June, 1818 and used this palace as the Head Quarters of the Peshwas symbolizing Pune’s rich heritage culture. The palace which was believed never to see defeat, alas had to face defeat of the Maratha Army by John Malcolm of the British East India Company in June 1818. Then king Bajirao had to abdicate his throne to John Malcolm and go into exile. The British took siege of the palace and stayed put until 1828 when a mysterious and massive fire destroyed everything inside the fort except for the stone foundation of the 13 storey palace. Right after, the palace was abandoned.
This heavily spiked main gate (in pic) still stands sturdy and strong and is known as the ‘Delhi Darwaja’ (darwaja means door).
Ghost Story: There’s also a popular legend doing the rounds that this palace or whatever remains of it is still haunted by the teen king pleading to be saved from his attackers on full moon nights. He was the 5th generation, a very young Bajirao, aged just 17, crowned as king, side stepping his uncle. The uncle was later jailed there. In a palace intrigue this teen king was murdered by his own jailed uncle’s wife by hiring tribal killers from another state!
Ghosts apart, a Light and Sound Show set up at a cost of Rs 1.25 crore is the main attraction, none other than the famous Bollywood actor Amitabh Bacchan has lent his baritone voice for the commentary. Alas we could not enjoy this light and sound show as it was down for some maintenance.
Further Useful Information for the Light and Sound Show
Timing of the Show (everyday)
7:15 pm to 8:10 pm (Marathi Show)
8:15 pm to 9:10 pm (English Show)
Ticket rate: Rs. 25/- per head
Ticket booking: Everyday 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm (No advance Booking)