Once the garh (headquarters) of the Peshwas, Pune’s Shaniwar Wada is enveloped with haunted stories of the yesteryears. The fort, which is said to be cursed, depicted Maratha architecture and faced the wrath of fire outbreaks multiple times. However, it still stands tall, welcoming visitors from far and wide to experience the tales of love and loss.
With the monument being known as one of the most haunted and spooky places in Pune, it not only attracts history and architecture lovers but also ghost tourism enthusiasts. So, here’s taking you through the eerie corridors of Shaniwar Wada.
Historical significance and architecture of Shaniwar Wada
Constructed at a cost of INR 16,110 (approximately), by Peshwa Bajiro I in 1732, it is an architectural marvel that speaks volumes of the Maratha glory. Although most of it has been destroyed in fire accidents, especially the massive one in 1828, the nine bastions and five gates that are part of its fortification are untouched. Even after the damage caused by the flood in river Mootha in 1962, they are as it is.
The five doors symbolising the grandeur of the structure are Dilli Darwaza, Khidki Darwaza, Ganesh Darwaza, Narayan Darwaza and Mastani Darwaza, of which the most popular ones include the door used by Bajirao’s second wife Mastani and the one named after Bajirao’s grandson, Narayanrao.
This historical place also houses a gorgeous fountain in the shape of a lotus with 16 petals called Hazari Karanje or Fountain of Thousand Jets. Other structures inside the Shaniwar Wada include the Ganesh Mahal, Rang Mahal, Aarsa Mahal, Hasti Dant Mahal and Diwan Khana.
Shaniwar Wada translates to ‘Saturday palace/fort’ in Marathi and was named so because of the housewarming ceremony that took place here on a Saturday according to legends.
Shaniwar Wada haunted tales
‘Kaka Mala Vachwa’ meaning ‘uncle save me’ is Peshwa Narayanrao’s cry for help, which people report to have heard here, especially on a full moon night.
It is said that Narayanrao’s uncle Raghunathrao wasn’t happy with him becoming the Peshwa after the death of his brothers. When Narayanrao realised his uncle’s evil motives, he put him on house arrest which did not sit well with his aunt and Raghunathrao’s wife Anandibai. She hired a group of hunters known as Gardis to kill the 18-year-old young Peshwa on Ganesh Chaturthi night.
And as gory as it may sound, they not only killed him but cut his body into pieces and threw it in the river in a sack. It is said that since his body wasn’t cremated his soul still wanders in the Shaniwar Wada in search of peace yelling ‘Kaka Mala Vachwa’ like he requested for his uncle’s help during the night of his death.
The palace is believed to be frequented by the spirits of all those who died here, and locals have heard unusual screams and witnessed paranormal activities too. Visiting the premises is strictly prohibited after dark.
Locals also say that once Bajirao’s first wife Kashibai’s childhood friend cursed the fort after Bajirao killed her husband doubting him to be a traitor.
The best time to visit Shaniwar Wada
Shaniwar Wada is situated at Shaniwar Peth in Pune, and the best time to visit Pune is during the months of October and February. However, if you wish to experience monsoons in the Sahyadris, then you can consider visiting the city and nearby areas in July or August.
How to reach
By air: Pune Airport is about 12 km away
By train: Pune Railway Station is about 3 km away
By road: It is about 162 km from Mumbai
Daily: 9:30 am to 5 pm on all days except Sunday
Light and sound show: 6:30 to 8:30 pm (Marathi — 7:15 pm to 8:10 pm and English — 8:15 pm to 9:10 pm)
INR 5 per person for Indians
INR 125 per person for foreigners
INR 25 per person for light and sound show
Places to explore near Shaniwar Wada
Pune is a culturally rich city with numerous historical and tourist spots, some of which are close to Shaniwar Wada. These include Lal Mahal (0.28 km), Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Temple (0.75 km), Pataleshwar Temple (1 km), Vishrambaug Wada (1.1 km), Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum (2.1 km), Sarasbaug Ganpati Temple (2.5 km).
Some places that are a little far off include Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park (7.5 km) and Sinhagad Fort (34.6 km)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– What are the architectural features of Shaniwar Wada?
The five doors of the palace that symbolise the grandeur of Shaniwar Wada — Dilli Darwaza, Khidki Darwaza, Ganesh Darwaza, Narayan Darwaza and Mastani Darwaza. It also houses a fountain in the shape of a lotus with 16 petals called Hazari Karanje or Fountain of Thousand Jets. Other structures inside the Shaniwar Wada include the Ganesh Mahal, Rang Mahal, Aarsa Mahal, Hasti Dant Mahal and Diwan Khana.
– Can visitors explore the interiors of Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, visitors can very well explore the interiors of Shaniwar Wada during visiting hours.
– Is there an entry fee for visiting Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, there is an entry fee for Shaniwar Wada. It is INR 5 for Indians and INR 125 for foreigners.
– Are there guided tours available at Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, many travel companies arrange for guided tours in Pune which includes a guided tour of Shaniwar Wada as well.
– What is the best time to visit Shaniwar Wada?
You can visit Shaniwar Wada between 9:30 am to 5 pm or for the light and sound show from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
– Can I take photographs inside Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, you can take photographs inside the palace.
– Is there any light and sound show at Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, there is a light and sound show at Shaniwar Wada that starts at 6:30 pm.
– Are there any nearby attractions to visit along with Shaniwar Wada?
Yes, there are many attractions near the majestic structure such as Lal Mahal (0.28km), Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Temple (0.75 km), Pataleshwar Temple (1 km) and Vishrambaug Wada (1.1 km).
(Main and featured image credit: Jam Travels/Shutterstock)