Icon of Pune City – Bajirao’s Shaniwarwada

Pune with a pleasant weather and its-laid back vibe has always been on my travel list. I planned once to visit the place when Stefi, a close friend of mine and a native of Pune got transferred from Bangalore. But, I couldn’t made it that time! This time, I don’t wanted to miss this city which is a fast-growing IT hub and famous for its’ cafes, boutiques and night life. Though Mythri and I wanted to spend a day in going around the city, we couldn’t spare more than a couple of hours here 😦 . And here is what we did in those couple of hours πŸ™‚

13.11.2016:

18.55 hrs – An icon of old Pune, the Shaniwarwada fort makes for a brilliant heritage stop.Β The legend says that with successive victories in battlefield, Peshwa ruler Bajirao I recognized the need for shifting his ‘wada’ meaning ‘residential place’ in Marathi, to Pune and built his grand residence Shaniwar Wada on the right bank of the Mutha River.Β The foundation stone of Shaniwarwada was laid on Jan 10, 1730, a Saturday by Bajirao I and two years later, when it was ready, the opening ceremony was also performed on a Saturday, and hence the name of the fort Shaniwarwada, located in Shaniwarpeth of Pune.

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The security guard at the majestic doors with spikes jutting out which is now an entrance to the fort collected our tickets from us and allowed us in. According to the legend, this is called the Dilli Darwaza or Delhi Gate – named because it faces Delhi directionally. But to our surprise, there are only remains of once gigantic residential place and a symbol of Peshwa power and might. We were to see only the fortified boundary walls and walk across the burnt ruins of the palaces within its walls.

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We occupied the seats in the last row, as the front ones were already occupied 😦 . The light and music show started and it was the narration about the might Maratha empire and their wars. The narration also had conversations between Baji Rao and his second wife Mastani, who was not welcomed in the family, and her residence ‘Mastani Mahal’ is at the north-east corner of the Palace, which has a separate gate for entry and exit and it is being called as the ‘Mastani’ gate, named after her πŸ™‚

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The palace inside the wada was a seven storied palace made of wood, and served as the residence of the Peshwas for nearly a century till 1828, when during the time of Bajirao II, there was an unexplained massive fire, raged for seven days that gutted the entire ‘wada’ leaving behind it’s ruins now.The tourists can hear a lot of stories about the magnificence of the palace as well as the stories of betrayal that led to the eventual fall of Peshwas and it is also said that this place is haunted and post sunset, tourists are not allowed inside.

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The story is that..Β After Bajirao I’s son Balaji Bajirao died, the mantle eventually fell to his youngest son, Narayanrao. Barely a year after he ascended the throne, his jealous uncle and aunt plotted his murder. Narayanrao was chased down the corridors of Shaniwar Wada, and eventually brutally killed by the conspirators. It is said that even today, on a full moon night, you can hear his desperate cries to his uncle asking him to save him. I think I missed an opportunity here as tomorrow that is 14.11.2016 is the full moon day 😦

20.15 hrs – The show was over and we started walking towards the bus stand which is like some 500 meters from the fort. Interestingly, the bus into which we got to reach the railway station is the same one which we got into from the station. The conductor smiled at us and we returned it πŸ™‚

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On board to Pune

India has one of the world’s largest rail networks, and transports roughly 25 million people daily. There are long-distance, suburban and freight trains, different classes of passenger accommodation, etc. And one should not forget that the first passenger rail journey took place in India in 1853 and covered a distance of some 21 miles between Bombay and Thane. Though I didn’t get a chance to explore the same route in the present time, I can very well relate this journey from Lonavala to Pune with that πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ . Can you just imagine this journey of mine back in those Victorian times? πŸ˜€

13.11.2016:

17.10 hrs – We got into an express train at the Lonavla railway station to Pune. India’s quintessential journey is still the long train ride. 25 million daily passengers travels in Indian trains watching the Indian landscape change from dry valley to lush mountain forest to lime-green rice paddies and today, I was one among those 25 million πŸ™‚ . The train is also where you can hang out with families and other domestic travelers, learning about Indian culture the old-fashioned way – over a cup of tea, to the rhythm of rails.

While the old people share their own train stories with their grand-children, the hawkers would be busy in selling various articles right from the safety pins to books (they sells some novels too) and while the middle-aged working class would be eagerly waiting to reach their respective destinations to join their families after a hectic day back at the office, the youngsters would be busy in their own ways like watching the much happening stuff around them and chuckling, giggling with their friends and some cursing the speed of the train πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ . So much fun!

And the best part of train journeys is that we can make some quick friends and don’t think it will just for the time-being, some can become dear for life and I have a first-hand experience in this, and that too a very good one, for the matter of fact! πŸ™‚ . And there we were, Mythri and I indulged in a conversation with our co-passengers and during the same, a co-passenger told us that Shaniwar Wada is near to the Shivaji Nagar station and it would be better to get down there rather than traveling all the way to Pune Junction. He also added that the train would be reaching the Shivaji Nagar station faster than Pune Junction, as it would be stopped in the outer region for space on the platform.

18.20 hrs – We got down at the Shivaji Nagar station and walked towards the exit. Shaniwar Wada is very near to the railway station and there are frequent buses from here and we got into one immediately after we got out of the station and the ticket costed us only Rs. 6 each πŸ™‚ . 18.45 hrs – The bus conductor is good enough to stop exactly at the entrance of the fort and we stepped down and thanked him πŸ™‚ . There is a ticket counter at the entrance selling tickets for that evening’s light and music show and I am waiting for my turn!