shaniwar wada – the palace fort inside Pune city
Two weeks back, i was driving from Lakshmi road (had been to Chitale Bandhu) to Rasta Peth. On turning around a corner, a huge wall came into view. it didn’t look like a normal city building. The wall continued on and on as the road went around the complex. It looked like a fort and it looked very photogenic. The first thing i did on returning home was to research about this and i found out that this place was called Shaniwarwada and it was a fort mansion built in the 18th century.
In all my research on places to see near Pune, i had missed something so big right inside the city! So, i visited the place the following saturday. “Saturday” – this place is called Shaniwar Wada, because the foundation stone was laid on a Saturday and “wada” comes from the fact that it was a residential complex. Peshwa Baji Rao built this mansion as his personal residence.
Route from Magarpatta: (the route that i know of ) Go towards hadapsar signal, turn right on the road to Kroma/Big Bazaar, after you cross the race course (on the right), you will get a small turn to the right (one-way), taking this road and continuing on straight will take you to M.G.Road signal, go on M.G.Road , turn left at the end (near the statue) , keep going on this road until you reach a major traffic signal (ask for rasta peth if you get lost), turning left on this signal and turning left again at the t-junction will take you to Rasta Peth (statue of a fisherwoman on the roundabout). Take right at this roundabout (towards a small Hanuman temple on the middle of the road). Keep on going straight until you hit Shaniwar Wada (you will see the huge walls). Drive around the fort to find the parking lot.
I had modified the above photo in Photoshop to blur the areas other than the statue to emphasize the statue! Shaniwar Wada, in spite of being at the centre of the city and having an almost negligible 5 rupees entrance fee, is very clean and well maintained. You don’t see the plastic junk which has become characteristic of almost all forts and tourist spots in Pune.
It had just drizzled just before we went there and the greenery inside the mansion/fort was appealing to the eye. So, what is to be done or seen inside Shaniwar Wada? Nothing much. Walk around, enjoy the calm, the greenery ,read about the history of the place and of course, take lot of photographs!
There is also a fountain (was not operating the time i was there). I have read a lot about the splendour of the fountain. Opposite the fountain, there was a place with lot of depressions on the ground. But, there were no signs explaining them. So, we assumed that it was community bathroom with lot of bath tubs
There is a huge wall surrounding the place. You can climb on the wall and walk the entire circumference. You get a different perspective of the whole place and also the surrounding areas. But, if you are a little horizontally prosperous, getting up the stairs could prove a challenge.
At the front of the mansion, you can climb one more flight of stairs to go to the front porch. The view from here on a clear day extends far into the city.
There were lot of eagles over Shaniwar Wada. Actually, Pune seems to have lot of them!