May 31, 2023
Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada

The Shaniwarwada is a grand palace that bears witness to the glorious rise and tragic fall of the Maratha Empire. Constructed in 1732 by Peshwe Bajirao I, the wada, or palace, was once the center of Indian politics. After the death of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the Marathas gained immense military power and became kingmakers. The palace served as a hub for planning strategies to keep Delhi under control.

Bajirao lived in the wada with his 50 relatives, and the palace was well-planned with five doors in various sides. The Peshwas constructed the Katraj lake and brought water to the wada through underground ducts. Even today, a well can still be seen within the palace walls. “Many water sources were developed by the Peshwas for Pune,” said a historian.

The interiors of the wada included Mastani Mahal, Arse Mahal, Chiman Baug, and the court of the Peshwa. Unfortunately, the palace fell prey to fire more than once. The British took over the wada in 1817 and used it to house mentally-ill patients and prisoners.

The Shaniwarwada is a beautiful testament to the grandeur of the Maratha Empire. The remains of a painting of Ganpati at the entrance of the wada, considered auspicious by the Peshwas, still stand today. It is a popular tourist destination, and visitors flock to see the palace and its exquisite architecture. However, some historians lament that people merely come to rest or take a stroll in the wada, which is the pride of Pune.

If you’re interested in seeing more palaces of India, there are several other magnificent structures to explore, such as the new palace in Kolhapur of the Bhonsle Chhathrapathis, the Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara of the Gaekwads, the Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior of the Scindias, the Rajwada in Indore of the Holkars, and the Tanjore Palace of the Bhonsles. Each palace has a unique story to tell and is a testament to the rich history and culture of India.

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