Friday, 24 March 2017

Once Bajirao-Kashibai's love nest 'Shaniwar Wada' is now the most haunted place in Pune!

We all have watched the grandeur of Shaniwar Wada in the Bollywood movie Bajirao Mastani. But ever wondered what happened to the palace after the death of Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani? What happened to Nana Saheb? What happened to Kashibai? Here's an interesting article on the Speaking Tree which says it's one of the most haunted places in Pune:

1. Shaniwar Wada haunted by Peshwa Narayanrao's ghost?

This 18th century edifice was put together in the honor of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal Balaji Bhat for his great courage and triumphs towards the Maratha Empire. Build in 1730, on the banks of River Mutha, in the city of Pune, Maharashtra, this was the seat of Peshwas until 1818, when the latter lost its control to East India Company.

2. Peshwa Bajirao Ballal Bhat

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).

3. Construction of Shaniwar Wada

For the complex, Teak was imported from the jungles of Junnar, Stones were brought from Chinchwad, and Limestone from the belts of Jejuri. With a total cost of Rs. 16,110 (an empire’s treasure of those times) and over two years later, it was completed and handover to the Peshwa Bajirao’s family.

4. Most haunted place of Pune

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.

5. Curse on Shaniwar Wada

In its first year, Shaniwar Wada saw an early and unfortunate death of Peshwa Bajirao I, betrayal for his first wife Kashibai, an incomplete love story of Bajirao-Mastani (his second wife) and treachery by the hands of Nanasaheb (Bajirao-Kashibai’s first born).

6. Betrayal by blood relations

The structure which was once renowned for its architectural brilliance, is now dreaded for supernatural activities on the full-moon night. Locals believe that the fort is haunted by the ghost of Bajirao’s grandson Narayanrao, who was brutally killed on orders of his relatives.

7. Peshwa family tree

Even before his father’s (during Peshwa Bajirao I’s serious illness) death, Nanasaheb claimed his power on the Maratha throne and hold on Shaniwar Wada. Three of his five sons who survived infancy death were, Vishwasrao, Madhavrao, and Narayanrao.

8. Battle of throne

After Nanasaheb’s death, Vishwasrao earned the power of throne, which angered former’s younger brother Raghunathrao (fondly called Raghoba) and his wife Anandibai.

9. Death of Vishwasrao and Madhavrao

During the third battle of Panipat, against a triumvirate of King Ahmad Shah Durrani of Afghanistan, the Rohilla Afghans of Doab, and Shuja ud Daula, the Nawab of Awadh, Nanasaheb’s eldest son Vishwasrao led the Maratha Army, while his second son Madhavrao played the chief strategist.

10. Decline of Peshwa household

Some of his strategies backfired, which led to the killing of Vishwasrao. Holding himself responsible for his elder brother and Peshwa’s death, Madhavrao plunged into depression and later died due to deteriorating health.

11. Crowning of new Peshwa: Narayanarao

Following the death of both Vishwasrao and Madhavrao, their younger brother Narayanrao (only 16-year-old at that time) was appointed as the next Peshwa. And, Raghunathrao was assigned as the regent to take responsibilities of the throne till Narayanrao was minor; this angered Anandibai even more, who by now obsessed to take the power into her own hands.

12. Raghunathrao and Anandibai
Narayanrao was aware of the bitterness of his uncle Raghoba and aunt Anandibai and their ugly fallout with his elder brother Vishwasrao. This hatred among them was fueled by their closest advisers; resulting in Narayanrao ordering Raghoba under house arrest.

13. Raghoba's house arrest

Anandibai turned furious after hearing the news of her husband’s house arrest and plotted revenge on Narayanrao. She planned out a vicious plot to break out her husband and kill Narayanrao, simultaneously. She knew that Narayanrao had been having conflicts with the hunting tribe, Gardi, originally the Bheels from Central India.

14. Raghunathrao's help plea

Once she convinced Raghunath to send a signed letter to Sumer Singh Gardi, leader of the tribe asking for help and capturing Narayanrao saying, “Narayanrao la dhara”, which meant ‘Capture Narayanrao’. Seeing this as an opportunity, Anandibai tweaked the letter, which now read, “Narayanrao la Mara” – ‘Kill Narayanrao’.

15. Bloodiest assassination in the history

On the night of the last of Ganesh Chaturthi, the highly trained and fiercest assassins were sent by the Gardi tribe to Shaniwar Wada. In the cover of night, the invaded the inner chambers of the palace and released Raghunath; killing all who intervened.

16. Narayanrao's death

They then headed for Narayanrao, who was sleeping unaware of what was happening. Hearing the commotion inside his room, he stood up and ran straight for his uncle, to seek his help. But, the Gardi assassins got hold of him and began brutal attacks on him, Narayanrao kept shouting, “Kaaka! Maala vaachva (Uncle save me)”, but no one came to his help.

17. Downfall of Shaniwar Wada

He kept wailing while the assassins tore him into pieces; Raghunath kept mute and witnessed the ordeal. Later Narayanrao’s body which was cut into numerable pieces was taken out in vessels and thrown into the river.

18. Prosecution of Raghunathrao, Anandibai and Sumer Gardi

Soon after Narayanrao’s death, Raghoba and Anandibai proclaimed their power on the Peshwa’s throne and Shaniwar Wada. Later Peshwa administration prosecuted Raghoba, Anandibai and and Sumer Singh Gardi.

19. Visit at your risk

Till today, tourists and explorers are allowed to visit the outer chamber of fort during the day and at night, the place is deserted. Some locals and enthusiasts even lay out camps near the river bank to listen to the wailing cry of help of Narayanrao’s spirit shouting ‘Kaaka! Maala vaachva’ that continues to haunt ‘Shaniwar Wada’.

20. Hindu cremation rituals

As per Hindu customs, a dead individual’s cremation must be done with all rituals to release their spirit from the mortal world. And, as Narayanrao’s body was dismembered and thrown away in the river, his remains were never found and his last rites couldn’t be performed.

21. Spirit of Narayanrao haunts Shaniwar Wada

Locals believe that because Narayanrao’s funeral rites never took place, his spirit till date moves in pain in the mortal world and his soul is trapped within the walls of Shaniwar Wada.

22. Shaniwar Wada horror

It is also believed that once Kashibai’s best friend from childhood had cursed the prosperity of Shaniwar Wada, after her husband was killed by Bajirao on suspicion of being a traitor to the Maratha Empire.

23. Shaniwar Wada cursed?

It is said, that Shaniwar Wada never prospered and was always strangled by the webs of betrayal, dishonesty and bloodshed. The power of throne was such that it saw the Peshwa household falling to pieces.

24. Burned to ashes

And as fate would have it, on February 27, 1828, a major fire broke out inside the palace complex which raged for nearly seven days, destroying everything that marked the legends of Peshwa household. Only the heavy teak gates and deep foundation of the fort survived.


  1. Dear,

    The photo / image used in this article is not that of Anandi Bai of Peshwa, instead it is the image of famous ANANDIBAI JOSHI.

    Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was one of the earliest Indian female physicians. She was the first woman from the erstwhile Bombay presidency of India to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States.

    Can you please change it with appropriate one.

  2. Thanks for noting the mistake. Will remove it!