Experiencing the Reign of the Peshwa Rulers at Modern Pune, Maharashtra

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The fortified palace of Shaniwar Wada that once stood strong is today just a remains
This travel experience of mine will only suit to those travelers who prefer walking across the busy streets, exploring the feelings amongst the messy Pune localities and across the chaotic city traffic. Certainly, walking is the best option when it comes to travelling along the over crowded city streets and randomly moving traffic. Amongst the busy urban chaos, lies the proud and magnificent Shaniwar Wada. It was the fifth day of September, a holiday and the first day of the Ganesh festival here at Pune. I headed from Hadapsar with a Rs. 20/- bus ticket to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) bus station. I had been an occasional traveler of the Pune Municipal Transport (PMT) buses but today’s journey was different. The difference as I could make out on the streets which were filled with Lord Ganesh processions and local bands dressed in Puneri attire, noisy yet filled with devotion and fun. The local city buses are most of the times overcrowded and not neatly maintained. This makes the journey more dis-comfortable especially if you board a crowded bus. Ensure that you board a bus where you could grab a seat and remain seated until your destination arrives. Another reason why I prefer travelling through these city buses is to avoid the pain of driving your own vehicle amongst the city traffic and more importantly, outsourcing the pain of finding the parking space.

The pathway from within the palace to the fortified wall which even today stands firm 

The Shaniwar Wada, built in 1732 CE is one of the greatest identity of modern Pune which embarks the glorious past of the Peshwas, the rulers of the Maratha empire in 18th century. The monument today stands still despite the trauma it has suffered in the past. The palace was constructed by Bajirao I in the 1730. One of the buildings in the Shaniwar Wada was 7 storied. There is a story told about why this place was chosen for the construction. The Thorale (Elder) Bajirao once saw a rabbit chasing a dog at this place. Inspired from this Shaniwar Wada was built, a place which would never see defeat. It used to be the headquarters of the Peshwas and it symbolizes Pune's culture even today. Looking at the construction one understands how the structure was built giving highest priority to the security. The main entrance is known as 'Delhi Darwaja', others have named like Ganesh, Mastani, Jambhal, Khidki. There is a statue of Bajijrao I riding a horse in front of Shaniwar Wada. This statue is prominently seen from the main street as well. Inside the Shaniwar Wada, one can see the Ganesh Mahal, Rang Mahal, Aarsa (Mirror) Mahal, Hasti Dant (Elephant Tusk) Mahal, Diwan Khana, Fountains. Currently renovated and also have a light & music show. The main part left is Nagarkhana which gives glorious inside view. This is an expansive palace with its impressive fountains and gardens. The palace was the seat of the Peshwa power which was later destroyed by a fire in 1828. Today’s remains of this great monument are the walls that fortified this palace, with their sturdy doors, studded with spikes for added protection. Nearby is a street where the Peshwas unleashed elephants to trample dissidents to death. This palace is today managed by the Archaeological Survey of India and the tourist visiting hours are between 8 am to 5 pm. I had visited the Shaniwar Wada earlier at an entry fee of Rs. 5/- but now the visit fees have been increased to Rs. 15/- and that made my total spend for the day to Rs. 35/-. Kids below the age of fourteen are allowed free of cost.

The visit to the historic Shaniwar Wada brought be closer to the era of the Peshwas. Reading through information scribbled about the palace, it really brought be closer to these historic men and women. I spent some time at the Mastani Darwaza (door) which was the door meant for the beautiful second wife of the Bajirao Peshwa I. My thoughts wandered and imaginations went on and on. It was a divine feeling to experience standing on the land where these rulers of the past once stood and stayed. 
View of the Bajirao I Statue from the Delhi Darwaza depicting the glorious history of the Peshwas
Opposite to the Shaniwar Wada, there stands the Lal Mahal which is worth a visit too. At a two minute walking distance from Shaniwar Wada, there is this famous Ganesh Temple - Dagdu Sheth Halwaai Temple which was buzzing with bands, crackers and horns of the passing vehicles. But this temple never ceases to provide peace to every devotee, every passer by. After this closer look into the history of the Peshwas, I decided to head towards the deeper dive and decided to walk towards the Parvati, hill temple. I headed towards the Bajirao Road which starts from the Shaniwar Wada and ends at the Saras Baug (Saras Garden). The Peshwas and developed several gardens across the city of Pune and the Saras Baug is one of the prominent ones. While walking on the Bajirao Road, I decided to grab a quick sugarcane juice at the Shanipar joint. I ordered a one large glass of sugarcane juice costing Rs. 20/- which was enough to provide me enough glucose to rejuvenate me to walk a few more miles. Then I headed towards the Tulsi baug, off the Bajirao Road which is a place known for one of the famous Ganesha in Pune and busy shops for ladies and kids. The whole atmosphere was filled with the devotion towards this Great God of Knowledge and the remover of all obstacles.

Later, I spent some time at the Saras Baug. Watching the fish inside the beautiful pond in this garden is a very serene experience. There is a beautiful Ganesh temple right in the center of the garden. Beside the temple there is a small museum which has a beautiful collection of various antique Ganesh Idols. This museum has no entry fee. 

Reaching the top of the Parvati Temple from Saras Baug was a bit tiring experience. I managed to reach the Parvati temple without a halt which gave me a sense of accomplishment but really made me feel hungry. To my amazement there was a small canteen on the top of the Parvati temple which came to my rescue. I grabbed a couple of Wada Paav (famous Indian Burger - Rs. 12 each) and a bottle of water - Rs. 20/- which made my spending for the day to Rs. 99/-

Besides the Parvati temple, there is a beautiful Peshwa Museum. This palace where this museum is built in was originally built by Shrimant Peshwa in 1795 CE. Part of the same has been converted into Peshwa Museum. Being a lover of antiques and being a numismatist myself, I visit this museum every time I visit Parvati temple. It is a great collection of Peshwa Paintings, old coins, weapons, toys, clothes, utensils and documents. The entry fee to this museum is presently, Rs. 10/- per adult. Near the museum is situated the Samadhi Sthaan of Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa, who died here due to the intense grief experienced by him when his son Vishwasrao  and elder brother Bhausaheb lost their lives in the historic war of Panipat. The Peshwa Museum has been built using part of the Peshwa's Mansion, using many old carved wooden pieces and displays a collection of items belonging to the Peshwa Era. The museum contains paintings of all Peshwas, Maratha Sardars, their family members along with the arms, articles and coins which were in use in Peshwa era. The entire palace of Sardar Bhuskute of Burahanpur (M.P.) has been installed in the museum. The rare collection is displayed in the museum and hence treated to be the most important museum connected with the history of Pune and Peshwa Raj. Samadhi Sthan of Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa is now renovated and converted into sabha mandap where the paintings relating to various battles fought by Marathas are on display. Some of the beautiful paintings of Peshwas are also displayed in the hall. 

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