History was not my subject of interest in school days, but I saw a batch of young school students lined-up inside the Shaniwar Wada Palace complex during my self-guided heritage walk at this nearly 300-year-old building that chronicles the glory of the Maratha Empire.

Rise and Fall of Shaniwar Wada Palace:

The Shaniwar Wada was the most magnificent and stately mansion that has ever built in Pune by the Peshwas in the 18th century. The foundation stone of the building was laid by Bajirao I (1700-1740) on Saturday, January 10, 1730 and the construction was completed in 1732.

‘Shaniwar’ means ‘Saturday’ in Marathi language, and ‘Wada’ means Home, hence, this grand residence was named ‘Shaniwar Wada’.

It is stated that the total expenditure on this palace came upto Rs. 16,110/-, and atleast a thousand people use to reside in the palace area in 1758 A.D.

The successors of Bajirao made several additions such as fortification wall with bastions and gates, court halls and other buildings, and added fountains and reservoirs to this property.

The building was a seven storeyed structure and it is said that, it was supposed to be made entirely of stone. However, post the completion of the base floor, the people of Satara objected to the making of this palace using stone, and were of the opinion that a stone monument can be sanctioned and built only by the Shahu (King) himself and not the Peshwas. Following this mandate, the elevation of the building was done using bricks instead of stones.

In 1818, the Peshwas lost control of this seat to the British East India Company. Shaniwar Wada was attacked by the British army, in which all the top six stories collapsed leaving only the stone base. The remaining structure that can be seen even today, was strong enough, and survived the British artillery.

Shaniwar Wada in the 19th Century:

After facing defeat in 1818, the Peshwa abdicated his throne to Sir John Malcolm and went to reside near Bithur near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, as a political prisoner of the British Government.

About ten years after this event the whole palace was completely burnt down by a great fire on 27th February, 1828, which lasted for seven days and except the heavy ramparts, strong gateways and buried foundations and ruins that still bear witness to the rise and fall of a mighty Empire, nothing of this majestic and magnificent building has been saved from the cruel hand of time.

The Nagarkhana on the top of the Delhi gate which once sang loudly the glories of the great Peshwas has now become a popular symbol of Pune city.

Other important buildings in this palace were The Court Hall of Bajirao I, Dancing Hall, Ganesh Mahal and Old Mirror Hall.

Hazari Karanje Fountain:

It must have been a lovely sight of the Lotus Fountain when it was on, and the blooming flowers adding to its grace. However, I was unlucky to find it in a defunct state when I visited the palace a year ago.

“Hazari Karanje” or thousand sprayed fountain, was constructed most artistically and ingeniously for the pleasure and joy of the infant ‘Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao’, and was an object and curiosity of wonder. It has a shape of Lotus flower of 16 petals, each petal having sixteen spouts with a circumference of 80ft.

It is said that in India that there was not a single fountain like this anywhere having 196 jets not even in Europe, except the celebrated fountain “Fontana de Treville” at Rome. The sun for its amusement would make and break a thousand rainbows.

Statue of Bajirao I
View of the manicured garden lawn from first floor balcony. The Lotus Fountain is on the far right.
The caretakers of this palace conduct light and sound shows in the evening is what I read on one of the travel booking portals. With enhanced lighting, I am assuming the night ambiance would be more entertaining, but not during the pandemic as restrictions are still in place.
Tourists walking on the boundary wall which circles the wada area.
View towards the front gate.
The door was designed for an elephant to pass conveniently. The door is heavily spiked with sharp pointed nails to prevent attacks by the opponent army during a battle. This is the rear view of the door.
Front view of one of the smaller doors in the boundary wall, photographed from outside the palace.
Flight of steps leading into the wada.
Off all the snacking options available outside the Fort Palace, this mini eatery selling Bhel Puri snacks had a charisma of his own.

Follow this blog on facebooktwitter or instagram

Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai


  1. Rs. 16,110 was the total expenditure and over 300 years from that time, today we don’t even get a decent enough cycle for this money

    Now imagine how low will be the value of money further 300 years from now

I will appreciate your comments