Shaniwar wada is one of the historical fort in the Pune. It is situated near the Mula-Mutha River in KasbaPeth. The construction of the fort was started in 1730, by the rulers of Maratha empire, Peshwas. It was the seat of them. Peshwas were the rulers of Maratha Empire, until, they surrender themselves to British that is till 1818. It was named Shaniwar Wada from the Marathi words, Shanivar means Saturday and Wada is a general huge residence complex. It was completely built by Teak and Stone. All the teak and stones were brought from the jungles of junnar(village in pune) and the nearby quarries of chinchwad, which is a town in Pune. The construction was completed in 1732. Later on,Peshwas made several additions including the fortification walls with bastions and gates court halls and other buildings, fountains and reservoirs. Currently,fortification wall has five gateways and nine bastion towers, enclosing a garden complex with the foundations of the original buildings.
It is said that full moon nights are very much haunted in Shaniwarwada. There is a story behind this, according to an old story this fort is haunted by a prince.He was assassinated brutally, when he was 13 by the order of one of his relative. His assassins chased him all across the fort, the boy started yelling again and again, “Kaka, mala vachva!”(Marathi Waord means – Uncle, save me!) and even today locals say that they hear his cries for help at midnight on every new moon day. The fort was largely destroyed itself in fire in 1828, but, the survived structure are now maintained as a tourist site.
The legend has it .I had heard tales from the locals that the Shaniwar wada is haunted. Many plays in Marathi theatre have been based on this same folk lore and we were inquisitive to know more. On asking our tour guide about it, he took us to one a particular section of the fort. It appeared as an ordinary fort section, a kind of a Darwaza (door) with passages adjacent to both sides leading to stairways. History has it that, After Panipat war Peshwa dynasty had suffered alot . Their crown prince Vishwasrao and Peshwa’s brother and Commander in Chief Sadashivrao Bhau died in the war. After listening the news of humilating defeat of his army , Shrimant. Nanasahib Peshwa too passed away of shock. His son Madhavrao succeeded him and ruled for quite some time . Raghunathrao , younger brother of late Nanasahib was appointed as a regent to the young Peshwa, but he tried to interfere with the administration. He soon fell out of favour with the Peshwa, and even tried to conspire against him by joining the Nizam of Hyderabad against the Peshwa. The alliance was defeated and Raghunathrao was placed under house arrest. After Madhavrao’s death in 1772 his younger brother Narayanrao a 13 year old succeeded him. Raghunathrao was released from house arrest. He then became the regent of Madhavrao’s younger brother Narayanrao. Since Narayan Rao was still a minor his uncle Raghunathrao became his guardian and started acting as the regent. As days passed by Raghunathrao became greedy and ambitious to become the Peshwa himself. He plotted along with his scheming and cunning wife Anandibai.
In 1773, when Narayan Rao was only fourteen years old, his uncle sent his guards to catch Narayan Rao and bring him. Legend has it that, the Uncle had sent a message to his guards ‘Narayan Rao la dharaa’ (which means in marathi – capture Narayan Rao) but his wily wife changed the message to ‘Narayan Rao la maaraa’ (which means – kill Narayan Rao). Thus Anandibai went down in history for changing ‘dha’ to ‘maa’ and abetting the killing of the young prince. On seeing the guards coming after him the young prince fled inside the fort towards his Uncle’s place Badami Mahal crying “Kaka! Mala vachva!” (Uncle! Please save me!) But no one came to his rescue. His uncle stood and watched Narayan Rao being killed. Narayan Rao was hacked into so many pieces that it had to be carried in a vessel through the door.
Raghunathrao was awarded the Death sentence for abetting this gruesome crime. Locals say that on specific nights of the year you can still hear Narayan Rao’s cry for help “Kaka! Mala vachva!” They think it is his distressed soul still seeking help. We left the fort with our minds still imagining these historical incidents. The present day tranquility of this place is only marred with couples hobnobbing in hidden passages of the fort who are shooed off by the guards at regular intervals, “Raju loves Pinki” and other lovelorn graffiti scribbled unjustly into the walls of this historical beauty. The distressed soul of Narayan Rao Peshwa is certainly the last thing on their minds for sure. Even though all these tales built upon the actual historical events could be just a farce but no one can deny the actual history of any place.