Shaniwar Wada: A Quiet fort with a Noisy (and perhaps) Spooky Past!

“Kaka! Mala Vachva!!”

“Kaka! Mala Vachva!!”

“Kakaaaaa”

“Uncle, save me”, the pleadings of a young Peshwa, it is believed, still echoes in the ruins of Shaniwar Wada Fort in Pune in the Maharashtra State of India.

If Indian forts especially the haunted ones interest you, then read on.

Built in 1732, by the Peshwas (Prime Ministers) of the Maratha King (Chhatrapati), Shaniwar Wada has been ruined by a combination of military attacks and fires through the centuries. The massive walls and heavy ramparts that remain today tell the tale of tragic love, treachery, rich history and haunting spirits.

Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

Why is Shaniwar Wada Called Shaniwar Wada?

The foundation of Shaniwar Wada Fort was laid on a Saturday by Peshwa Bajirao on the banks of River Mutha, in the city of Pune, Maharashtra.

Saturday in Marathi (Language Spoken in the Maharashtra state of India) is called “Shaniwar” and “Wada” is a settlement. 

This is how this Palace cum fortress came to be called “Shaniwar Wada”.

Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

Who Built Shaniwar Wada ?

Bajirao I who served as the Peshwa (Prime Minister to the Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Sahu) built this fortress.

The gallery above the Dilli Darwaza. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
The gallery above the Dilli Darwaza

Shaniwar Wada is spread over 625 acres and was made at a cost of Rs. 16,210.

It was the place of residence of the Peshwas (Prime Minister in the Maratha Empire) until 1818, when the latter lost its control to East India Company.

My daughter enjoys the view of shaniwar wada from one of the nine bastions in Shaniwar Wada. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
One of the 9 bastions in Shaniwar Wada

It is a heavily fortified building complex with nine bastions and five gateways. 

My Son resting on a Cannon mounted on a wall in the Shaniwar Wada Complex. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

Around 1828, the entire palace was destroyed by an unexplained fire.

The conflagration which raged for 7 days, spread rapidly through the wooden structure.

Three kids play on the broad rampart of Shaniwar Wada. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

In Shaniwar Wada, there are five ‘Darwaje’  which means ‘gates’. The Dilli Darwaza is the main gate of the complex and faces north towards Delhi.

There are arrow-loops and machicolation chutes on the bastions which flank the gatehouse. Boiling oil could be poured out of the machicolation chutes on the approaching enemy.

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The right pane of the massive Dilli Darwaza has a small man-sized door for usual entries and exits, too small to allow an army to enter rapidly.

Who was Balaji Baji Rao?

Bajirao-I was anointed as the Peshwa (Prime Minister) of the Maratha empire at the age of 20. Over the next 20 years, he fought 41 battles without loosing in even one. He was successful in converting Shivaji’s idea of Swarajya (freedom)  to Samrajya (empire).

n equestrian statue of Bajirao outside Shaniwar Wada. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
Statue of Bajirao outside Shaniwar Wada (Source)

Balaji Mastani True Love Story

Kashibai was the first wife of Bajirao while Mastani was his second wife.

Second marriage by a Peshwa wasn’t looked down upon in those days. However the fact that Mastani was the daughter of King of Bundelkhand Chhtrasal and his Muslim wife wasn’t accepted by the family of Bajirao.

Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

Bajirao’s love for his half-Muslim wife Mastani and neglect of Kashibai upset his mother, Radhabai. Bajirao was torn between his love for Mastani and his obligations towards his mother.

Mastani lived at Mastani Mahal in Shaniwar Wada for some time after their marriage. Though the Mastani Mahal is no more, one can still see a door named after her on the left side of the fort. The Mastani Darwaja (Mastani’s Gate) or Aliibahadur Darwaja, was used by Mastani for entering and exiting the Palace.

The Tragic end of Baji Rao I

Bajirao was 40 years old when he succumbed to death due to heat stroke.

Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
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Mastani couldn’t bear the news of his death and killed herself by consuming poison (there are many different versions of their deaths, this being the most popular one).

Mastani’s son Shamsher Bahadur, a boy of six years was thereafter raised by Kashibai.

Nanasaheb the new pehswa after Balaji Baji Rao I

Balaji Baji Rao (Nanasaheb) was son of Peshwa Bajirao I and Kashibai. He was appointed as Peshwa in 1740 upon the death of his illustrious father. 

Genealogy of the Peshwas. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
Genealogy – Wikipedia

Shaniwar Wada haunted by Peshwa Narayanrao’s ghost?

Post the death of his two older brothers in 1772, 17-year old Narayan Rao, grandson of the above mentioned Bajirao, took over as the 5th Peshwa. He was the youngest Peshwa ruler ever.

This succession, however, was opposed by his own uncle, Raghunathrao, second son of Bajirao and Kashibai. Unable to come to a mutual understanding and peaceful settlement, Narayanrao finally ordered a house-arrest for Raghunathrao.

Enter the Assassins

According to popular belief, Raghunathrao had sought the help Gardis (who were trained assassins) to capture Narayanrao. His message read “Narayanrao la dhara”. Dhara means to “hold”.

This letter was intercepted by Anandibai, wife of Raghunathrao. Enraged over her husband’s arrest by Narayanrao, she changed the word “dhara” to read “maara” which means to “kill”.

The Brutal Death

The misperception led the Gardis to chase Narayanrao and finally kill him.  As he ran from the Gardis, the young Peshwa, called out to his uncle for rescue.

“Kaka! Mala Vachva!!”

“Uncle, save me!!”

Gruesome Detail Alert: It is said that Narayanrao’s body was hacked into so many pieces that they had to carry the pieces in a pot.

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga

Rumour has it that the agonizing sound of Narayanrao crying for help still echoes on a full moon night in the remains of Shaniwar Wada.

I secretly wonder if the kids would have so carelessly wandered around the Shaniwar Wada if they knew it was believed to be haunted 😉

bajirao mastani movie

Intrigued by the love story of a Maratha warrior and a Muslim princess, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, produced and directed “Bajirao Mastani” with a budget of ₹1.45 billion, which makes this movie one of the most expensive Hindi films.

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s rendition of the tragic love story between Maratha king Bajirao and Muslim princess Mastani showcased in the magnum opus ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

Shaniwar Wada Fort Today

What was once a majestic seven-storied structure is mostly in ruins now. 

The wide rampart of Shaniwar Wada. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
Wide Ramparts of Shaniwar Wada in Pune

Looks like this fortress does not feature high on the list of either the “History Buffs” or the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation).

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga

Unfortunately, the signages are not well maintained. 

Children playing with their father on the steps of Shaniwar Wada. Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

My two Kids along with their cousin had fun going up and down the stairs and walking on the broad rampart.

Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

Municipal Corporation of Pune  has maintained the Lawns well.

The palace in its hay days had exquisite fountains and aesthetic gardens. Worthy of mention was the sixteen-petals lotus-shaped fountain called the Hazaari Kaaranja (fountain of a thousand jets).

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga
Ganpati Rang Mahal

Unfortunately, more than tourists there were lovers and couples sitting in nooks and corners.

The heavy ramparts, majestic entrance gates and the ruins of the foundation stand as an evidence of the bygone golden years

Shaniwar wada's sixteen-petals lotus-shaped fountain called the Hazaari Kaaranja (fountain of a thousand jets
PC: Pixabay

Parking

Right in the heart of Pune, in the center of a bustling market, this fort takes you back in the time of the Peshwas.

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Since it is in the middle of the marketplace, parking is a big issue. The Wada has a very limited parking space. We chose to travel in Auto – one of the cheapest ways to travel in Pune.

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga

Though this place does not feature as one of the most popular places to visit, if you happen to be in Pune and love history (we definitely do) or everything spooky, this Wada can be in your list.

Souvenirs

There is a small shop ‘Warsaa’ in the campus which sells traditional handmade goods, books, and souvenirs.

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga
Our memories are our Souvenirs

Entry Tickets

The ticket counter is housed in the inner hallway. There is a cannon kept on the other side in the hallway.

family_travel_blog_shaniwar_wada_haunting_mastani_bajirao_love_saga

There is no signage to inform any history of the cannon.

Where: Shaniwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411030
Timing: 9 Am to 5:30 PM
Entry Fees: 
Children under 14 years - Free
Indians above 14 years - Rs.15
Foreigners - Rs.200
Time needed to see this place: 30 to 45 mins

Light and sound show at Shaniwar Wada:

The Pune Municipal Corporation has set up a light and sound show in an open air auditorium in the palace grounds of Shaniwar Wada.

The show takes place right in the center of the Wada under the umbrella of twinkling stars. The story of Bajirao and Shaniwar Wada is projected through light and sound over water fountains.

The light, narration, music, and the ambiance all add to give an enriching experience.

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No refund is given if the show is canceled due to rains.

Timing:
7:15 pm to 8:10 pm (Marathi Show)
8:15 pm to 9:10 pm (English Show)
Tickets available for Rs. 50/-
Ticket booking 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm (No Advance Booking)

Have you been to any place spooky? How was your experience?

Hope you liked the shaniwar wada images and shaniwar Wada Video.

shaniwar wada video in Hindi

shaniwar wada haunted experience in hindi

shaniwar wada timings

Where is Shaniwar Wada? Shaniwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411030
Shaniwar Wada Timings: 9 Am to 5:30 PM 

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Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.
Built in 1732, Shaniwarwada is a historical fortification in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. Read more about the The former love-nest of Bajirao and Kashi and Bajirao and Mastani.

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16 thoughts on “Shaniwar Wada: A Quiet fort with a Noisy (and perhaps) Spooky Past!”

  1. Very nicely written Richa… my daughter is mesmerized with Kashi Bai after watching Bajirao serial… planning to take her to see the wada once in India.

  2. This is such a beautifully written post! I had visited Shaniwar Wada during my last trip to Pune. I was fascinated by it’s story after reading about it on a blog. I loved how well maintained the garden is there. Enjoyed reading about it’s history and I loved your pictures too.

  3. It was so interesting to read the story of Shaniwar Wada here. I have seen the movie Bajirao but had no idea about the story behind the fort. Well I gotta go see it in Pune next time we go that way 🙂

  4. Your post makes me want to go back to India to explore more! I haven’t been to Pune and will explore Shaniwar Wada in the future. I don’t mind seeing haunted places – as long as it’s morning (ha!). The garden is beautiful too.

  5. Shaniwar Wada has always fascinated me and have done multiple trips to this place. The last being after bajirao Mastani movie. The last one fascinated my daughter for that is when she got to know of this spooky tale. Loved your post as I relived that

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