We’ve all heard of Shaniwar Vada in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus filmBajirao Mastani. The 18th century edifice is a reality and was put together in the honour of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal Balaji Bhat for his great courage and victories towards the Maratha Empire. This palace was built in 1730, in Pune, on the banks of River Mutha. It was the seat of Peshwas until 1818, after which East India Company took over!
In January 1730, Peshwa Bajirao had himself laid the foundation of his soon-to-be residence. It happened on a Saturday, and hence the name ‘Shaniwar Wada,’ a combination of two Marathi words, Shaniwar (Saturday) and Wada (residence). The complex was made with teak imported from the jungles of Junnar, stones were brought from Chinchwad and Limestone from the belts of Jejuri. A total of Rs. 16,110 was spent on its construction. Two years later, it was handed over to Peshwa Bajirao’s family.
But, as we look back and recall this love structure as the witness of the love story of Bajirao-Mastani and the loneliness of Kashibai, there’s a lot more to it. Shaniwar Wada was built up to witness heroic tales saw nothing, but treachery, pain and ill-fate of those who resided within the walls of this palace. Today, it is believed that it’s the ill fate of this fort that makes it one of the most haunted palaces of Pune.
A year after its construction, Shaniwar Wada saw an early and unfortunate death of Peshwa Bajirao I, betrayal towards his first wife Kashibai, an incomplete and painful love story of Bajirao-Mastani and deceit from Nanasaheb’s (Bajirao-Kashibai’s first born) end.
Once upon a time, Shaniwar Wada was known for its architectural brilliance. However, it is now dreaded for supernatural activities on the full-moon night. In fact, locals believe that the fort is haunted by the ghost of Bajirao’s grandson Narayanrao, who was brutally killed on the orders of his relatives. Some people also believed that the fort never prospered and was probably cursed!