Shaniwar Wada is one of those typically touristy, must-see places in Pune. It was the first historic landmark that a friend had brought me to see when I visited Pune for the first time, as a teenager. I’ll admit I had found it somewhat boring then. But last weekend, I revisited the place, as part of the population of Pune that simply loves its city and everything that reflects its heritage and glory.
Shaniwar Wada was the palatial residence of the Peshwas, the Prime Ministers to the Maratha kings. The foundation for the original structure had been laid by Peshwa Bajirao I in 1730. A statue of Bajirao I stands proudly in front of this monument today.
The successors of Bajirao I added other elements to the residence, including fortification walls, bastions, gates, fountains, reservoirs and the like, giving a fort-like feel to it.
A raging fire gutted the buildings within the Wada in 1828, and what remain today, are the foundations and ruins of those buildings, and the fortification walls bearing bastions and gates surrounding the complex.
The Dilli Darwaja is the main gate of Shaniwar Wada. Massive, and standing about 20 ft tall, it bears a grid of steel spikes fitted to prevent elephants from charging the gates.
Inside the gates, high, painted walls and an old cannon gave us a glimpse into a bygone era.
We climbed up the steep and narrow stairway to a pillared hall with an adjoining balcony on the first floor, above the gate.
This is the view from the balcony overlooking the Dilli Darwaja…
…and from the hall, this is the view of the garden within the walls of Shaniwar Wada.
We walked around the entire complex following an elevated stone pathway that had passages and steps leading to ground level at frequent intervals.
Check it out! I’m perched on one of them!
It took us about an hour and a half to walk around, stop for pictures and to read the plaques bearing information about Shaniwar Wada in the 19th century. It had been a dull, rainy day, and not the best for great pictures, but it left us with some good memories and a renewed pride in the history of this land.