Wada "place of residence"

Shaniwar Wada and Vishrambaug Wada
- 24 & 25 November 2012 -

Only after I had visited these 2 places did I do a online search to find out what Wada means, I discovered it means: place of residence. I found that quite interesting, much more interesting than say... "house". I wonder if people from other languages hear the word "house" and think ..... interesting. It's just a house!!

Well in these cases, it is not just a house. These are palaces, not something our normal neighbor builds. We talking about huge and probably totally unnecessary structures, probably more useful at showing the world how important you are. Things haven't changed much in the last 300 years.

Like usual I arrived relatively early, but also like usual I was told to wait a couple of hours before they open the massive fort doors. The fort doors were made of solid wood, and had 72 spike protruding out of them, apparently to discourage elephants ramming the doors during an attack.

There were a lot of people waiting around as well, so I sat down and observed everybody. Eventually 4 young men who had been eyeing me for a while approached and introduced themselves. They were from a college nearby and wanted to know where I was from. At first I was skeptical, I'm not use to people just introducing themselves and striking up a conversation, but I guess I do stick out like a sore thumb.... caucasian, alone, walking around with expensive camera equipment. The company was welcomed from my end, I learned the 4 boys were studying economics. Despite the facial hair, they looked pretty young.

I wasn't really in the mood to talk, so we all just sat around watching other people. We even found some cricket to watch....

Eventually the cricket got boring, and a man walked by with a massive dog, this was more interesting. Firstly the dog is about twice his owners weight. But more entertaining was when his dog picked up a scent of another dog on the same walking path. There was a bit of pushing and shoving, and mostly pulling, but let us just say that I was quite impressed that the owner could keep the situation under control.

The longer we sat there, the larger the crowd grew around me. Eventually I had a family of 4, wanting to take photos with me and then I just lost track of the numbers. The friendliness I receive was incomparable to anything I know from South Africa. These people apparently found me interesting, they didn't want any money, they didn't want to harm me in any way, they just wanted to sit with me. They even went so far as to pay for my entrance into the palace (more about that later).

One kid got very unhappy when he was forced to sit next to me for a mobile phone photo taken by the mother. I obviously took advantage of the moment, and snapped some photos of my own.

I also decided to take advantage of other's photo portrait sessions.

Eventually it was time to go in and as previously mentioned, my new friends insisted on paying my entrance. The cost was Rs5, which equates to less than a rand, so I didn't feel guilty that they were paying. The problem was when I tried entering, I was pointed to a board that clearly explains that foreign nationals need to pay Rs100. I thought of making a noise but when you work it out it still costs less than 20 rand. Although 20 times more expensive than what I(we) thought, I forked over the money and entered the ruined palace.

I'm not sure what this bird is, I think it's a raven or crow, or something of the sort, but you find them everywhere in Pune.

Once inside, the "little boy with the orange hood"'s mood had improved and was actually quite playful.

So walking around on the estate I got an idea of the size of the place. Shaniwar Wada was completed in 1732 and in 1758 there was over 1000 residents in the complex, mostly servants and soldiers. In later years there was an unexplained fire that did the damage you pretty much see today. Therefore it doesn't look much like a residence anymore.

Apparently the residence was first constructed and then later the walls and entrances were built around it. I have a feeling the British's presence encouraged this.

The watch towers and area above the main gate is the "best kept" structures and you can still see the old wood pillars with the intricate detail and effort put in.

The following day I decided to visit, if I understand this correctly, a second residence of Peshwa Bajirao II. This was located more towards the town centre in Thorale Bajirao Road (once again I got this from Wikipedia, I did look for a street name, but with no luck).

The reception I received here was similar to that of the Shaniwar Wada. I entered the building and asked my questions to two men sitting at a desk, they gave me some details and called some other young men to show me around. There was no fee attached to entering this one.

The group (+- 15 guys, on and off), my guides, were actually there due to the drama performance they are preparing for. They took me up the stairs to a room with numerous collected artifacts. These included swords, lamps, paintings, etc..

The yellow door at the end apparently contains very lethal weapons, which the public is not allowed to see.

The above photo is not really a historical item, but actually a trophy made entirely of cotton wool.

Below is a painting of a king. I didn't take down the name, so I can't remember the name. Something I have learnt about India is the names of things can be quite long, and difficult to remember (especially for me).

This residence appears to be more of a mansion when compared to the fort of Shaniwar Wada.

Interesting things to see. I must say though, I'm not much of a history seeker, I went purely because it was a destination, it was interesting, and probably my highlights were the people I met in between. If you are in Pune one day, and you like history, there are some really old places around, with probably some interesting background. If you go and find something out let me know, as this was the last of the historical journeys I made.


  1. Wow wow wow. What an amazing blog post.

  2. Thanks Norwin, glad you enjoyed it. My next one will be my favourite one. Streets of Pune.