Shaniwar Wada is one of the most popular and visited monuments located in the heart of Pune city, Maharashtra. The famous fort was built in the year 1746 and commissioned by Peshwa Baji Rao. Until 1818 when Shaniwar Wada was subjugated by British East India Company after the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the substantial fort was a symbol of glory and power of Maratha Empire. The massive structure was greatly influenced by Mughal architecture and conspicuously manifested the Marathas’ adroitness on stone work during the medieval time. In the year 1828 the castle caught a devastating fire and destroyed almost everything inside the fort including artifacts, monuments and wood work. A few artworks and monuments were able to survive and now preserved to maintain as a tourist site.
The Shaniwar Wada fort is truly a trademark of the Maratha craftsmanship and stone work. The colossal monument is enclosed by impenetrable walls and bastions in an attempt to enhance protection and defy enemies. Apart from fortification walls and bastions fort complex has five main entrances or gateways located in the four directions and used during war time. Mastani Darwaja located on its north direction once used by Mastani, Bajirao’s wife during her travelling out of the Palace. Dilli Darwaza is the main gate and facing south direction. The door features with massive entrance to permit battle elephants and seventy-two pointed steel spikes to thwart enemies. The bastions were well equipped with arrow-loops and machicolation chutes through which hot substances and oil could be poured against invaders. Even if the main gates were to be forced open, a troop of army inside the castle was ever ready to defy and counterattack the intruders. Khidki Darwaja or window Gate is located in the east direction and named after an armored window the fort contains. On its south-east direction, Ganesh Darwaj named after Ganesh Rang and was used by women inside the fort to visit nearby Ganapati temple. Narayan Darwaja is facing south direction and predominantly used by concubines to enter and exit the castle.
In addition, the fort has also several palaces built inside including Thorlya Rayancha Diwankhana , Naachacha Diwankhana and Juna Arsa. The interior of the palaces embellished with carved teak arches, floors were decorated exquisitely with polished marble quite akin to mosaic arrangement. Walls inside the palaces were beautified with several arts and painting reflects Maratha’s adroitness on Wall painting. It’s believed that some famous architects including Shivaram Krishna, Kondaji and Bhojraja had put their efforts together to erect the castle.
The tourist can also find a delicate lotus-shaped cascade near the main complex. The fountain is believed to be built to entertain young Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao. The striking waterfall is enhanced with sixteen petal lotus and sixteen jets with a massive eighty foot arch.
Due to its intricate design and momentous significance, enormous tourists from various parts of India often visit the Shaniwar Wada fort every day.