Shaniwar Wada is one of the most haunted places in Pune located in the Maharashtra State of India.
The walls of Shaniwar Wada Fort in Pune hide a painful story of a small boy, Prince Narayanrao who was killed by Sumer Singh Gardi.
On the night of every new moon, this fort becomes a haunted place. People often hear the sound “KAKA MALA VACHWA” (uncle save me) from the Fort Where the spirit of Prince Narayanrao now utters its last words of his past mortal life.
Shaniwar Wada’s name came from Word Shaniwar (Saturday) as the ceremonial foundation of the Fort was started on 30 January 1730 which was a Saturday.
Behind the Fort’s mysterious activities there is A haunted place story of greed for power and betrayal by a real uncle, Raghunathrao and aunty, Anandibai of Narayanrao. Madhavrao, Vishwasrao and Narayanrao were three sons of Peshwa Nanashaheb. After the demise of Peshwa Nanashaheb in the third battle of Panipat, his eldest son Madhavrao succeeded as Peshwa. But Madhavrao also died in unexplained circumstances after the death of his brother, Vishwasrao. Then after Narayanrao became Peshwa at the age of 16 while his uncle Raghunathrao was in charge of state on behalf of the young nephew.
Raghunathrao’s wife Anandibai became very jealous. She had the burning desire to be the queen of State. With time situation becoming worse than ever. Narayanrao started to control the power of Raghunathrao and arrested him in his house. Raghunathrao wrote to Gardi Chief Sumer Singh to capture Narayanrao but spiteful Anandibai changed just one letter and made the letter to slaughter Narayanrao.
Sumer Singh sent a group of murderers who entered the room of sleeping Narayanrao at night eradicating all security. Narayanrao woke up and understood he was going to be killed. He ran towards Raghunathrao’s chamber and shouted to him “Kaka Mala Vachwa”. But he was caught by assassins and brutally murdered them. His body was sliced into pieces and then dumped in the river.
Narayan Rao was the youngest son of Balaji Baji Rao. Balaji Baji Rao was the son of Peshwa Bajirao whose story we saw in the Bollywood movie Bajirao Mastani.
The Ghost of the young Peshwa is considered to be residing in the fort with his painful agony. Every new moon night he cries for saving him.
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History of Shaniwar Wada
Shaniwar Wada is a big part of Pune’s history and Indian history. It was built by Bajirao I; the fort is built on 625 acres of land. It was home for him and his wife Kashibai. You will remember Shaniwar Wada prominently from Bajirao Mastani, after that movie, the fort became even more famous.
The fort is a beautiful destination built of stones and bricks. At the entrance, you will see a huge statue of Bajirao.
India’s best cavalry general ‘Baji Rao I’ of the Peshwas always wanted a residency that will reflect his ambitions and also be a solid defence for the Peshwas, so on January 30, 1730, Saturday, the ceremonial ritual to build the fort began.
Architects Shiva Ram Krishna, Devaji, Kondaji Starr, and others were some of the best of their times, they started designing and constructing the fort. They started making the fort with stones but later they were ordered to make it from bricks as there was a belief that only the King can have forts made of stone, and according to the order of King Siva, the rest of the fort was made of bricks.
It was a 7 – storied capital and the total cost of the fort in 1732 was Rs. 16,110. On January 22 1732, in another study, it was finally opened and named Shaniwar Wada also known as Saturday residential complex.
Shaniwar Wada was built for the defence of the Peshwas but when you see its story, it became a place full of betrayal, greed and assassins. First, it saw the death of Baji Rao I. It also witnessed the beautiful love story of Bajirao Mastani.
Later, Nanasaheb’s death happened in Shaniwar Wada and the downfall of the 3 sons of Nanasaheb. The greed of Anandibai and the betrayal of a family against family, all was witnessed by the fort.
The fort that has so much history is now a place of happy memories. In the 18th century, it was constantly attacked and hence, now you can only see the bottoms and ruins of the fort. In 1818, it was captured by the British at the end of the Padmavati war.
Since then, Shaniwar Wada became a hollow shell. The British East India Company started to use it for purposes that ranged from a prison to a hospital and even an asylum for the mentally ill.
In the war, the part of the fort that was made of bricks was destroyed and only the ground floor survived.
Another disaster left the fort in ashes. In 1828 on February 27, there was a fire that left the fort with nothing but rumbles and ash. The fort was later restored and renovated. Before it was renovated, the fort was desolate and abandoned for almost a century. Later in 1919, it was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India, which built a garden around the plinths.
The floors were covered with rugs. Ganpati Rang Mahal is the place where Marathas used to worship a gigantic idol of Lord Ganesh. Currently, there are 9 bastion towers, 5 gates and a garden complex.
Shaniwar Wada was not just a place of business, it was also a peaceful home for the Peshwas to relax. A distinct influence of the Mughals can be seen in the fountains here like the Hazari Jaranje fountain which is also called as the Fountain of a Thousand Spouts.
The fountain is lotus shaped with 16 petals, each one of them having 16 giant spouts measuring 80 feet in circumference. With a detailed scheme, water emerged from 196 spouts at a time, and played in hundreds of patterns, making it look like there were ten times as many spouts at work.
Another dear spot for the Peshwas to gather was a large tank near the Ganpati Rang Mahal, in which stones were ingeniously cut and placed so that the water running over them was broken into slabs. They were known as chadars as they formed white shawls with running water.
The Peshwas often invited guests to these white chadar shows accompanied by dance and music performances.
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Shaniwar Wada as a Tourist Location
Today, Shaniwar Wada has become a tourist attraction and a picnic spot for the locals, but it has seen a lot in the past. Some parts of the fort are not well–maintained that the government should look after.
Shaniwarwada is the pride of Pune. Tourists visit this monument first before anything else when they visit Pune. The fort has 5 doors namely: Delhi Darwaza – The Main Entrance, Khidki Darwaza, Ganesh Darwaza, Mastani Darwaza and Narayan Darwaza.
Even though these spooky stories surround Shaniwar Wada, it has a rich history of Marathas. Now, right in front of the Delhi Darwaza stands the huge and magnificent statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Previously, there used to be a Light and Sound Fountain show every evening around 7 pm in Marathi that attracted a lot of tourists. However, after the pandemic, it is not clear if the fountain shows have restarted or not.
Tips before you visit Shaniwar Wada
If you are visiting the fort, here are some tips that you must follow:
- Don’t Litter the Fort Area: It is a punishable offence to litter inside the premise. Hence, keep it clean and throw the waste materials in the bin.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes: The fort is pretty large even though it is situated at the heart of the city. Wear sports shoes or comfortable chappals that won’t ache your legs.
- Beware of the infrastructure: As the fort is very old, make sure not to dwindle around the parts of the fort that are visibly weak.
Lesser Known facts about Shaniwar Wada
Also, when you are visiting this majestic fort, don’t forget to have the delicious Bhakarwadis of Chitale Bandhu right outside of the fort. Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about this fort!
- The palace was constructed at only Rs 16,110 which is barely anything in today’s world
- The palace was featured in one of the episodes of The Amazing Race Asia 3 TV reality show
- It was also featured in the 2015 Bollywood blockbuster Bajirao Mastani
- The main gate of the palace is so big that even elephants can pass through it. However, to prevent the enemies from using elephants to charge the gate, sharp steel spikes are attached to each pane of the gate at an approximate height of an elephant’s forehead.
Some other places that you can visit near Shaniwar Wada are:
- Nana Wada (240 m)
- Lal Mahal (250 m)
- Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum (2.1 km)
- Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple (450 m)
- Chattushringi Temple (4.6 km)
- Mahatma Phule Museum (1.8 km)
- Pataleshwar Temple (1 km)
- Vishrambaug Wada (1.1 km)
- Shree Omkareshwar Temple (1.1 km)
- Kamala Nehru Park (3.5 km)
**Stay tuned for our next story on a Haunted Travel Destination!
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