Bajirao-Mastani hit the Cinema Halls last year and took us on a visual treat. The movie got me thinking about many things & I resolved to read the translated copy of the famous Marathi novel ‘Rau’ & pay a visit to the much decorated (going by what the movie showed) Shaniwarwada in Pune. I could get the second one checked in my last trip to Pune and Mahabaleshwar.
There’s a thing about ‘History’. All that’s left of it is stories, monuments and a few souvenirs to remember it by. Stories and monuments (buildings) go together. Neither is complete without the other. The eternal love of Shah Jahan is personified by the monumental Taj. The stories of Rajput valor are still alive in the forts and palaces of Rajasthan even after decades.
That’s the thing about history, there’s always a story that needs to be told, shared and aired.
The story of Shaniwarwada:
Centuries ago, a hare chased a hound on a patch of land & was noticed by a Peshwa ruler. The Peshwa thought high of the land where a meek hare was chasing a mighty hound & thought of constructing their residence there.
On one of the following Saturdays, the ruler laid the foundation of this residence that was referred as ‘Shaiwarwada’ in the pages of History.
It was Peshwa Bajirao I who built this magnificent building that was 7 storeyed high. Peshwa Bajirao I, husband to Kashibai & Mastani, prime minister to Chattrapati Sahu & a fine Maratha warrior. In his 20 years long millitary career, Bajirao never lost a single battle. Never!
A British officer, Bernard Montgomery once said about Bajirao, “He was possibly the finest cavalry general produced by India”. He probably was.
Shaniwarwada was constructed from Teak, stones and lime. It was said to be magnificent with high ceilings, many doorways and quarters to accommodate the entire family. Shining chandeliers hung from the ceilings and walls were adorned with mirrors. The floors bore patterns of mosaic and were made from the finest marble available. Such beauty!
Many love stories blossomed inside the walls of this fortress.
The Burnt and Broken:
In 1828, Shaniwarwada caught a fire and burnt continuously for 7 days.
How did the fort catch fire?
Why didn’t anyone notice it and do something about it?
What could be the possible source of the fire?
The questions remain unanswered till today. All that’s left is a story and a structure to remember it by!
Shaniwarwada has five gates: Dilli Darwaza, Mastani Darwaza, Khidki Darwaza, Ganesh Darwaza & Narayan Darwaza. Click some pictures when you go there.
- Address of Shaniwarwada: Shaniwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411030 (Call at 02026126867)
- Open: 7 days (8 am – 6 pm); Light show every evening