Located in Pune to the West of Lal Mahal, divided by just a busy traffic intersection from the famous Ganesh Darwaza is Shaniwar Wada, the royal residence built by the second Peshwa, Bajirao-I. It became the seat of political power during his days and achieved tremendous importance. To this date the Shaniwar Wada has been the city's landmark. A charming place that will take one through the memorable pages of Maratha history. It is said to have been the finest palace in the Deccan in its times.
The birth of Shaniwar Wada as concieved by Bajirao Peshwa-I was a double storeyed structure with two square courtyards on each side. Legend has it that Bajirao Peshwa, whose impressive statue astride a steed is seen in the front courtyard, personally selected this site. With the passage of time the seven Peshwas later moulded and remoulded this structure to what it is today. At the zenith of its glory, sixty years later Shaniwar Wada assumed the form of an intricately assembled five storeyed structure, an architectural marvel.
The construction of Shaniwar Wada began on the 10th of
January, 1730 when Bajirao Peshwa -I, collected a handful of mud from the
nearby Lal Mahal and laid the foundation. With teak from the jungles of
Junnar, stones from the quarries of Chinchwad and lime belts of Jejuri
provided the lime, the main Mughal influence came from the forays to the
north by Bajirao-I, which is obvious from the shape and the structure of
the arches. Shaniwar Wada stood an impressive two-storey high, and the
Peshwa treasury Rs. 16,120 lower.
The later Peshwas continued to add to their royal residence, and embellish it with their own personal touch. Bajirao I, being an ardent admirer of the arts himself, decorated the main hall with exquisitely engraved arches, supported by pillars shaped like cypress trees. The walls were pointed with themes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata by Bhajiraj, an artist the Peshwa brought all the way from Rajasthan. The next Peshwa, Nanasaheb, gave Shaniwar Wada the splendid Ganesh Darwaza and the Ganesh Rangamahal, which became the Darbar Hall.
The fifth Peshwa Narayanrao who was murdered in the Shaniwar Wada at the instance of his uncle Raghunathrao, built a Mahal for his personal use. By the time of the seventh Peshwa, Madhavrao, who leapt to his death from here, the main portion of the Wada had become six storeyed and had 4 large chowks and several small ones.
The seventh storey, the Aasmani Mahal was built during his reign, and its presence even for a few years, made Shaniwar Wada a Sat-Khandi. Mysterious fires continued to raze down portions of Shaniwar Wada in the early 19th Century, and the entire palace- barring its Mirror Hall was burnt in the fire that broke out on for about a fortnight.
The Mastani mystique hangs over Shaniwar Wada just as much as the gruesome gloom of its checkered history. It is widely believed that the Shaniwar Wada housed a Mastani Mahal, so beautiful a poem in stone, that it rivaled even Mastani's beauty, who, as the birds sang, was so fair and slender that when the betel nut juice passed down her gullet one could see its redness in her throat.
Within easy reach from all parts of the city, Shaniwar Wada
today is only an imposing outer wall. Yet, the ruins contained within can
translate the glory of the Maratha power.
What now remains of this once palatial Wada are only the plinths, the fortification walls with five gateways, and nine bastions that enclosed the whole complex, elaborate foundations of the original palace and the Nagarkhana with its fine wooden pillars and lattice work. One enters the palace through sturdy doors designed to dissuade enemy attacks.
It's old world charm has slowly become a thing of the past, largely due to the beastly skyline that surround it, the multi-storeyed cemented structures that have ugly facades. However, recent efforts of the Pune Municipal Corporation promise to turn a new leaf for this monument.
Pune is well connected by air, rail and road with the important places within and beyond the state. For local transportation taxis, city buses and auto rickshaws are available. Shaniwar Wada is a part of Pune City Tour
Accommodation is available at the hotels in Pune.