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Category Archives: Maharashtra Heritage Sites

Detail information about famous Heritage Sites, Monuments, Old Forts & Palaces, Tourist Attractions, Must See Destinations of Maharashtra in India

The Marvelous Fort of Pune – Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada is a legendary fort located in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. It was built in 1746 and served as the ruling seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire till 1818. While most part of the fort was destroyed in 1828 by a brutal fire, the remaining structure is now maintained by the government as a tourist site. Tourist visits this place due to the elegant architecture and craftsmanship.

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Delhi Gate entrance at Shaniwar Wada in Pune

This magnificent fort is unique in itself. It has many gates, fortified walls with bastions and court halls. It is a seven storied structure that reflects its beauty very well. The main gate of the fort is known as Dilli Darwaja (Delhi Gate) and the other popular gates are Mastani Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Ganehs Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja. The Mastani Darwaja was used by Mastani, second wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I. He later built a separate palace called the Mastani Mahal (previous post) for her. The walls of the palace fort were full of paintings especially the scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

A glamorous 16 petal lotus shaped fountain stands in the complex of the fort, shows the exquisite work of those times. It was basically constructed for the pleasure of the infant Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao. Each petal of the fountain has sixteen jets with an eighty foot arch. It is said to be the most complex fountain created at that time.

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Lotus Petal Shaped Fountain

This historic fort was once a residential area of 1,000 people. Other important buildings in the palace include the Thoraiya Rayancha Diwankhana, Naachacha Diwankhana and Juna Arsa Mahal. After the fire, only the living areas are available. The above said buildings have been designed and constructed by many well-known artisans, including Shivaram Krishna, Devaji, Kondaji Sutar, Morarji Patharwat Bhojraja and Ragho.

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

One can also enjoy the light and sound show available there, especially in the evening. So, during the tour of Maharashtra, this fort must be placed in the itinerary.

 
 

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Mastani Mahal recreated at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

Mastani Mahal was a palace built by Bajirao I for his second wife Mastani. Stories and movies related to Mastani are well known to the people. It was named after this leading lady of immense beauty and skills. He built this palace for Mastani at Kothrud. After a long time of negligence, the palace fell into ruins. Mrityunjaya Temple, along with few other ruins, is now what remains at the site.

Painting-of-Mastani

Painting of Mastani

It was Dr Dinkar G. Kelkar who preserved some of its remnant when the palace was dismantled. He tried to recreate the beauty of Mastani Mahal’s inside architecture in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. Dinkar Kelkar was an ardent art collector, so he transplanted the fine wooden pillars and wall paintings to his museum in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

There is a special section inside the museum that is dedicated to the legacy of Mastani Mahal. Its living room assembled the old carpenters work. The replicated architecture inside the museum reveals the intricate design and woodcarving. The breathtaking furnishing recalls the atmosphere of the home of Mastani, whose portrait on glass is also presented in the museum. It is a lesser know, but a great place to visit in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

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Mirror in Mastani Mahal

 

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The Lion’s Fort – Sinhagad Fort

Sinhagad Fort is famous for its valor and that is etched in every stone and the soil of the fort. It has turned red as it was seeped by the blood of martyrs. From the time when a Koli chieftain, Nag Naik stoutly defended this fort against the might of the Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq for nine months to Jaswant Singh, Aurangzeb’s commander, who yanked his guns up the fort’s steep shoulders to chastise the insult to Shaista Khan, who was dismissed by Shivaji. This fort has been inculcated by tales of bravery.

Sinhagad-Fort-in-Pune

Sinhagad Fort

It was there only where Shivaji’s general; Tanaji Malusare launched an attack to reminiscence the fort. In the resulting battle, Tanaji courageously laid down his life, but captured the fort. A lamenting Shivaji is known to have said, “Gad Ala Pans Sinh Gela” (The fort is won but the lion has gone). So the fort got its name Sinh (lion’s) gad (fort). The fort reminds of the valor of Tanaji for conquering the fort.

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Tanaji Malusare Statue at Sinhagad Fort

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The entrance of Sinhagad Fort

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View from the Pune Darwaja

 
 

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Shivaji’s Childhood Palace – Lal Mahal

Lal Mahal, as the name suggests, is a red brick building located at Pune. It is an important historical building as it was built by Dadaji Konddev in 1640, two years after he had ownership of Pune city from the Adilshahi Sultans. Konddev brought Shivaji and his wife up there, and then built this palace.

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The renovated Lal Mahal in Pune

It was the childhood home of Shivaji as he spent many years there. The statue of Jijamata (Shivaji’s mother) is placed inside the palace. There is another structure of young Shivaji with a golden plow looked after by his with mother Jijabai and Guru Dadoji Konddev. Four umbrellas on the terrace are the main attraction of the Mahal. This is the place where Shivaji Maharaj cut Shaistekhan’s fingers when he was trying to escape from the windows of the Lal Mahal.

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Many incidents from Shivaji Maharaj’s life are vividly illustrated on the walls of this palace. A garden is also there which is dedicated to Jijamata, so known as Jijamata Garden. In this garden, Kids, Senior Citizens spend their evenings very enjoyably.
The Pune Municipal Corporation had remodeled this Mahal in the year 1988. In its present renovated avatar, this magnificent Lal Mahal resembles more a sandstone red place, than a traditional Wada. This marvelous structure is just next to Shaniwarwada. Many pictorial representations of different incidents from Shivaji Maharaj’s life could be seen on the walls of this palace which attracts lots of tourist. It is another historic place worth visiting in Pune, Maharashtra.

 

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Retracing the legend of Gangadhar Tilak at Kesari Wada

The Kesari Wada, located in Pune city of Maharashtra, has gained much significance as a historical monument. The Gaikwads built this Wada as their personal resident. The Prince of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaikwad Sarkar lived here before selling it to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the famous leader of the Indian independence movement. Bal Gangadhar Tilak ran the Kesari (Marathi newspaper) and the Maratha (English newspaper) from this place till his death in 1920.

Kesari Wada

Kesari Wada

Originally called the Gaikwad Wada, its name was later changed to Kesari Wada by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Wada has witnessed many night-long discussions by India leaders from the freedom moment about the British rule in India. The original building has gone through several renovations to make it fit for the modern lifestyle. However, few things are still the original like the main entrance gate, which is made of wood.

Kesari Wada

Replica of Bal Gangadhar Tilak with his original belongings in Tilak Museum

Kesari Wada still houses the office of Kesari newspaper. The Tilak Museum is a great attraction that houses many belongings of Gangadhar Tilak. There is also a Kesari-Maratha Library on the second floor of the building. Bal Gangadhar Tilak started the annual Ganesh festival celebration in Kesari Wada to unite the people for independence struggle. The trend is still followed and many events like music concerts, lectures and competitions are organized during the Ganesh festival.

 

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Vasai Fort – The Portuguese Heritage

The Bassein Fort or Vasai Fort is standing as a guard over the Arabian Sea. Located in Vasai village of the Thane district in Maharashtra, it overlooks the Bassein Beach that flourished as a popular tourist destination and was once an important ship building site. The wide beach coastline of Bassein resemble to that of the Goa. The Portuguese had a stronghold till 1739 and after that it was taken over by the Marathas. Many Temples and Churches are there that have unfolded glory, even now they look glamorous. It is an ideal place to relax after a long work schedule.

Bassein Fort’s Facade

Presently, barricading all round the fort is almost complete. Many watch towers still stand there with safe staircases that leading up. Inside Vasai Fort, there are many Portuguese buildings that are in ruins. Some buildings have well-preserved facades. In particular, many of the arches have withstood over the years and remarkably well. Usually, they are decorated with carved stones, some resist beyond recognition, while others still showing sharp chisel marks.

Entrance of Vasai Fort

Three shrines inside the fort are still noticeable. They have large facades typical of 17th-century churches of the Portuguese times. The southernmost of these shrines, there has a well preserved barrel-vaulted ceiling. All the shrines are superbly designed.

The Courtyard of the Church inside Vasai Fort

Many Bollywood movies like Josh, Khamoshi and Ram Gopal Verma’s Aag have been shot here. Besides all the structures, one should not miss observing the beautiful nature, placid climate and cool breeze. Also watch the activities of natural animals like butterflies, birds, plants and reptiles.

African Hoopoe near the fort

The Archaeological Survey of India has started renovation work of the fort, although the quality of the work has been severely denounced by “conservation activists”. It is said that the fort has a bad reputation for illegal activities and due to which it is not advisable for tourists or women to visit it during the weekends.

 

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Recalling the legacy of Shivaji in Raigad Fort

Shivaji Bhosale or famously known as Chhatrapati Shivaji was a great leader and a legendary figure of the Maratha Kingdom. Raigad Fort in Mahad, Raigad district of Maharashtra was captured by Shivaji in 1656 and became the capital of Maratha Kingdom in 1674. He was crowned as the first ‘Chhatrapati’ of the Marathas in the same year. Set on a wedge-shaped block of hill, split off from the Western Ghats, Raigad Fort looks elegant. Stories of incredible valor and heroic deeds are depicted on every slab at Raigad. The fort, located 820 meters above sea level, is a beauty in the Sahyadri mountain range and provides a glimpse view of the town. Approximately, 1737 steps are there that leads to the fort, but now-a-days, an aerial tram is there to reach the top of the fort.

Raigad Fort

Raigad Fort was originally built by Chandrarao Mores in 1030 and was then known as the fortress of Rairi. Shivaji, upon seizing it, modified the designed of the fortress. Its name was changed to Raigad Fort afterwards. It remained a stronghold of the Maratha Kingdom until it was destroyed by East India Company in 1818. The ruin of fort consists of royal quarters for the queens, base pillars of the main palace and three destroyed watch towers. There is a wall inside the fort known as Hirakani Buruj that is dedicated to the courage of a village woman named Hirakani. The story goes that she came to the fort to sell milk, but was not allowed to go back as the gates of the fort were closed after sunset. But to get to her infant son, she climbed down a cliff in the dark. Shivaji then built a wall at that same place to honor her courage.

Maha Darwaja

Maha Darwaja by Amar Mainkar on flickr.com

The Nagarkhana Darwaja was the public entrance gate into the royal court. For the royal ladies of the court, there was another gate called Mena Darwaja. Maha Darwaja was the main entrance way inside the fort. Palkhi Darwaja was used by Shivaji. Until his death, Chhatrapati Shivaji ruled from this fort. In the ruins of the main market, there is a statue of Shivaji. The path from the market leads to the Jagdishwar Mandir and the tomb of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The tomb of Shivaji’s dog, Waghya, is also nearby.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Statue

 

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