One of the significant historic structures in Pune, Maharashtra, Shaniwar Wada was constructed by Bajirao I in 1732 as the residence of the Peshwas or the ministers. Sprawled in over 625 acres, the palace witnesses numerous visitors every day and never fails to fascinate the tourists due to its history and grandeur. It is said that the foundation for the palace was made on a Saturday, hence, it got the name Shaniwar Wada, Shaniwar means Saturday and Wada means ‘residence’. One of the main highlights of this palace is the statue of Bajirao which is located at the entry point of the palace itself. In 1828, due to an unexplained fire, a major part of the palace was destroyed however, it still holds enough charm to captivate the visitors where they can click photographs in the rustic gray structure and the garden surrounding it. What attracts tourists to this site is the history and tell tales surrounding the palace which are tormented with deceit and treachery. It also holds several haunted stories that have been shared since the olden days among the locals. According to locals, the palace is still haunted by the ghost of one of the previous kings Narayanrao who is believed to have been killed by his uncle and aunt – Anandi and Raghunathrao.
Interestingly, it is around Shaniwar Wada that some of the oldest markets of Pune exist. Most of the renowned markets exist Laxmi Road, Ravivar Peth, and Tulsibaug. If you are a history buff or an architecture enthusiast or someone who is curious about old stories, then visiting Shaniwar Wada is a must-have on your itinerary.
The Shaniwar Wada palace was constructed by Bajirao I in the 18th century when he served as the Peshwa or the Prime Minister of the then king, Chhatrapati Sahu. Constructed in 1732, the palace was the seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire until 1818 AD when the Peshwas surrendered to the British after the third Anglo-Maratha War. The palace is believed to have been a seven-storey building which was supposed to be constructed of stone. However, when the base was constructed, there were some drawbacks and objections from the people. The public objected that the construction of a stone palace should only be allowed for the kings and no minsters, no matter how high the position he held. Thus, it was agreed that the rest of the palace would be constructed with bricks and stone would be excluded.
After about 90 years, the British artillery attacked Shaniwar Wada Palace due to which the entire palace came down to a junk of rubble. However, the stone base remained intact which, till today, stands tall and proud in the face of time while testifying the grandeur of the oldenage.
Shaniwar Wada is another specimen of the Indo-Mughal style architecture and design and depicts the skillful craftmanship of the Maratha artisans. Boasting of a huge 21 feet tall main door facing north, the teak used for the construction of the palace was sourced from the jungles of Junnar, stones were brought from the quarries of Chinchwad, and lime imported from the lime-belts of Jejuri. The palace went through several renovations and reconstructions after this and additions such as strengthening walls with bastions, gates, and court halls. As most of the palace was destroyed by the fire, what now remains are the fortified walls with five gateways and nine citadels that surround the entire palace. The main gate is known as Dilli Darwaja (Delhi Gate) while the other gates are known as Mastani or Alibahadur Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, and Narayan Darwaja. There is a statue of Bajirao I perched on a horse in front of the palace.
The palace is surrounded by a stunning landscape of channels and ponds of distinct shapes. Inside the palace you can see Ganesh Mahal, Rang Mahal, Aarsa (Mirror) Mahal, HastiDant Mahal, Diwan Khana, and fountains. The walls of the palace were adorned with the pictures and scenes from the epic Ramayana and Mahabharat while a sixteen-petal lotus-shaped fountain still stands as one of the elements reminding us of the exquisite work of those times.
The light and sound show at Shaniwar Wada happens in the evening and is an exquisite sight to see. The palace is illuminated with colorful lights at night and the projector shows the history of the Maratha empire along with the Peshwas and Shaniwar Wada. Although the ticket counter opens at 7pm, you must be here before time to avoid the rush. Keep in mind that its an open area, so the show can get canceled due to rain so plan accordingly.
Timings – 7:15pm to 8:10pm in Marathi and 8:15pm to 9:10pm in English
Entry Fees – INR 25
The timings to visit the palace is from 8am to 5pm.
The entry fee is INR 5 for Indians and INR 125 for foreigners.
It is an all-year-round destination but the best time to visit the palace is from October to February. The weather and temperature during this time is pleasant and the heat is also bearable to explore the complex. Adding to this, the time after the monsoons will make the garden flourish with new blooms and verdant green garden that makes it appear even more enticing.
Shaniwar Wada was built by Peshwa Bajirao I in the year 1732 and some additions were made to the palace later by his successors.
By 1758, over a thousand people lived in the palace. In the year 1773, the fifth and the then ruling Peshwa Narayan Rao was murdered by guards on orders from his uncle and aunt Raghunathrao and Anandibai. It is said that the screams of Narayanrao are still heard in the palace during a full moon night.
Shaniwar Wada was burnt because of the mysterious fire that took place in the palace and later by several attacks from the British over the course of the 18th and 19th century.
Shaniwar Wada has several haunted stories which discourage people from going inside after 6:30 pm. You can come and see the light and sound show which is held on the open garden near the fountain but are not allowed to enter inside the fort after it gets dark.