Shaniwar Wada is one of the prime locations in the city of Pune. This historic palace fort was the seat of Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire. Built in 1746, this magnificent fort was destroyed in 1828 by a fire which is believed to be set by the Britishers. This fort saw several ups and downs within the Maratha Empire and was considered to be center of Indian politics in the 18th century. The fort was built by Peshwa Baji Rao I and its ceremonial foundation was led on January 10, 1730 which was a Saturday. Thus, the name Shaniwar Wada, which literary means Saturday Residence.
This fort was brilliantly planned and constituted of ample water supply in the form of small reservoirs. Moreover, the Mula-Mutha River passed alongside this fort and provided ample water supply for the daily needs. Further, the fortification included strong wall and bastions which were sturdy enough to sustain strike from cannons. The interior of the fort was also gloriously planned and included numerous court halls and residential buildings.
Today, this spectacular fort consists of nine enormous bastions, five massive gates, gardens, and remains of the foundation of then buildings. Looking at these structures one can get an idea of the marvelous structure it possessed during olden times. Despite of its historic importance and cultural value, the concerned departments are unable to take proper care of this significant historical entity. Several non-governmental organizations carry out frequent works here to ensure this place is preserved and remains intact for our future generations.
Following are some of the Important Points and Attractions to see in this Fort
Dilli Darwaza: The Dilli Darwaza or the Main Gate or the North Gate is one of the major attractions of this fort. This is an entry point of Shaniwar Wada and is huge in size. This gateway has tough doors that are mounted by pointed iron nails to sustain and prohibit the enemy elephants from entering the fort. The bastions supporting this gate also had arrow-loops and machicolation chutes to pour hot substances on the offenders. The interiors of this door were also significantly created and have sharp right and left turns to enter the actual central gateway. This strategic architecture helped to launch a counterattack even of the enemy’s army entered this door.
Mastani Darwaza: This north facing door is dedicated to Bajirao’s mistress Mastani who used this door to travel in and out of the palace’s perimeter wall. Located just next to the Dilli Darwaza, this door is similarly massive as that of the Dilli Darwaza.
Khidki Darwaza: The Khidki Darwazaa literary means Window Door and was given this name due to the provision of window it had. The door faces the east direction and was used to keep an eye on this direction.
Ganesh Darwaza: This door is situated facing the south-east direction. The door is named Ganesh Darwaza as the Peshwas and their mistresses used this door to visit the famous Kasba Ganpati situated here.
Jhambhul Darwaza: This door is situated on the southern wall of the fort and is also commonly known and the Narayan Darwaza. The door was renamed after the corpse of Narayan Peshwe was taken from this door for cremation.
Palaces: Today, only a few remains of the palaces here can be seen. Some of the important buildings in this premise include the Residence of Elder King which is often referred as Thorlya Rajancha Diwankhana. The other palaces include
Dance Hall (Naachacha Diwankhana), Old Mirror Hall (Juna Arsa Mahal), etc.
Garden and Fountains: The well maintained gardens and fountains are the major attractions of this place today. The shady trees magnificently aligned here are simply soothing and offer great space for the visitors to sit. The fountain here named the Hazari Karanje which literary means fountain of thousand jets was constructed for the pleasure of Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao.
The Light and Sound Show: This is one of the most magnificent attractions of this fort. The light and sound show conducted here depicts the entire story about this fort and Peshwas with special light and sound effects. The show is scheduled every day between 7:15 PM to 8:10 PM when the depiction is carried out in Marathi whereas a show between 8:15 PM to 9:10 PM is depicted in English. Ticket booking starts from 6:00 PM to 8:15 PM without any advance booking facilities.
Shaniwar Wada Pune is definitely a worth visiting historical destination in Pune and takes you to the glorious era of Maratha Empire.