“Shaniwar Wada”. Does that name ring a bell? Of course, if you have seen Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Magnum Opus Bajirao Mastani and the lavish palace displayed in the movie was “Shaniwar Wada”.
But the reality of Shaniwar Wada is entirely different from the movie. The fort was constructed in 1732, in Pune, on the banks of Mutha River. The palace was put together in the honour of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal Balaji Bhat for his bravery, courage and victories towards the Maratha Empire. The Peshwa rulers had the seat of this place until 1818 after which East India Company took over the place.
The place started to build in 1730 and Peshwa Bajirao himself laid the foundation of the fort. As it happened on Saturday, the fort was named Shaniwar Wada which is the combination of two Marathi words, Shaniwar means Saturday and Wada means Residence. The palace was made of imported wood and stones. The teak was brought from the jungles of Junnar and the stones from Chinchwad. The Limestone was imported from the belt of the Jejuri and a total amount of Rs. 16,110 was spent on the construction of the complex. After the construction was completed, the palace was handed over to the Peshwa’s family in 1732.
Bajirao-Kashibai’s first born Nanasaheb had three sons Vishwasrao, Narayanrao, Madhavrao. Nanasaheb died in the third war of Panipat and Madhavrao took the charge of Peshwa. During the same third Panipat Battle Vishwasrao died and after that Madhavrao also met his death. Narayan Rao was only 16 and at a very young age he became new Peshwa but his uncle Raghunathrao took charge of the state as his nephew was too young to handle the Maratha Empire.
History suggests that Gardi chief Sumer Singh Gardi sent a group of soldiers to capture and kill Narayanrao. That night Narayanrao was sleeping in his room without any security and somehow he understood that he is under an attack and going to be murdered. He ran to the chambers of Raghunathrao shouting ‘Uncle save me’ but was captured by the killers and was murdered brutally. His killers cut his body into parts and pulled down in the river.
If you look at the history of the place the beautiful palace saw more of pain, ill fate and treachery than it saw heroic tales. The terrible love story of Mastani and Bajirao, the betrayal to the Peshwain Kashibai from Bajirao and her loneliness. After a year of its construction, Shaniwar Wada witnessed the early death of Maratha warrior Bajirao.
After that the death of Vishwasrao, Narayanrao, Madhavrao. Once it was famous for its beautiful architecture but now the place is believed to be a haunted and cursed fort. Rumours has it that the ghost of young Narayanrao still exists there and on every full moon night, you can hear a horror sound of Narayanrao shouting “KAKA MALA VACHWA” (uncle save me). The ghost exists there with his painful soreness and still screams the final words of his past mortal life.
People believe that the fort was probably cursed from the very beginning as it never prospered and maybe it brought misfortune to the Peshwa family.
After being exposed to the reality of the beautiful Shaniwar Wada, you may not see it as before if you ever watched the movie again because the thought of “KAKA MALA VACHWA” (uncle save me) will be running in your mind while watching it.
Happy Coming Full Moon! Wink!
30 March, 2016
Avni S. Singh