Everyone loves a good horror story, especially if it’s mixed with political intrigue, brutal murder and a lingering voice haunting people till date. That’s the story of the Shaniwar Wada in Pune.
Peshwa Bajirao himself laid the foundation of his soon-to-be residence on Saturday, January 10, 1730; hence the name ‘Shaniwar Wada’ which was an amalgamation of Marathi words, Shaniwar (Saturday) and Wada (residence).
The palace which was build up to nurture and witness memories and heroic tales saw nothing, but treachery, pain and ill-fate of those who resided within these walls. Not just this, it is believed that such is the fate of this fort that at present day it is the most haunted palaces of Pune.
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Post the death of his two older brothers in 1772, 17-year old Narayan Rao, grandson of the above mentioned Bajirao, took over as the 5th Peshwa. He was the youngest Peshwa ruler ever. This succession, however, was opposed by his own uncle, Raghunathrao, second son of Bajirao and Kashibai. Unable to come to a mutual understanding and peaceful settlement, Narayanrao finally ordered a house-arrest for Raghunathrao.
According to popular belief, Raghunathrao had sought the help Gardis (who were trained assassins) to capture Narayanrao. His message read “Narayanrao la dhara”. Dhara means to “hold”. This letter was intercepted by Anandibai, wife of Raghunathrao. Enraged over her husband’s arrest by Narayanrao, she changed the word “dhara” to read “mara” which means to “kill”.
Apparently, for all these reasons, people are discouraged from entering the fort after 6:30 PM. Even now, more so on the full moon nights, the heart-wrenching cries of Narayan Rao, the young prince, can be heard by those who stay close-by. In all likelihood, visiting the Wada on no moon nights is also a no-no.
Believe it or not, the story of this fort has caught fancy of many. If you have some ghost-busting goals in mind, visiting Shaniwar Wada feels like a must.