Shaniwar wada - Mute witness to rise and fall of Peshwa

"Kaka Mala Vachva" (Help!! Uncle Save Me!!) , on that fateful night of 30th August 1773 youngest Peshwa ruler and 17 years old Narayanrao helplessly cried and screamed for help but no one came. He was brutally killed by Gardis the highly trained assassins inside the Shaniwar wada.

Its been more than 200 years but rumor says that Narayanrao's ghost still calls for help and sound of "Kaka Mala Vachva" can be still heard on full moon nights.

Shaniwar wada is one of the important historical landmark in Pune, was built as the residence of Peshwas. The foundation was laid by Bajirao in 1730 and the construction completed in 1732 with cost of Rs. 16120. Once the most magnificent mansion with fortification walls with gates, court halls, fountains, reservoirs and seven storied capital building now ruined.

We all know the love story of Bajirao Masatani. This is the place seen it all but its not just love story, it became center of political conspiracy, betrayal, family bitterness and brutal murder.

Let me take you back to 1732. Shaniwar Wada saw an early and unfortunate death of Peshwa Bajirao I. Then Bajirao's elder son Nanasaheb claimed his power. After Nanasaheb’s death, his elder son Vishwasrao took over, this angered Bajirao's younger son and Nanasaheb's brother Raghunathrao (Raghoba) and his wife Anandibai.  

During the battle of Panipat, Vishwasrao was killed. His brother Mahavrao felt he was responsible for Vishwarao's killing as he was chief strategist during war and he too died because of deteriorated health. Now it was time for crowning of new Peshwa. Following the death of both Vishwasrao and Madhavrao, their younger brother Narayanrao was appointed as the next Peshwa. Narayanrao was just 16 year old at that time. This angered Raghuanthrao and Anandibai even more.

Narayanrao was aware of the bitterness of his uncle Raghoba and aunt Anandibai. Just 16 year old, bit immature, rude ordered Raghoba under house arrest. Furious Anandibai plotted revenge on Narayanrao. She convinced Raghoba to send letter to Gardi, the tribes, highly trained and fiercest assassins for help.

It is believed Raghoba never wanted to kill Narayanrao and just wanted to capture him, while he can be released from house arrest. He sent letter saying "Narayanrao la dhara" (Capture Narayanrao) but Anandibai changed the letter dhara (capture) to make it read as maara (Kill). The letter received by Gardi tribe leader now read "Narayanrao la maara” (Kill Narayanrao).  On 30th August 1773 night they invaded the Shaniwar wada, killed who intervened and released Raghoba.

Narayanrao was sleeping and had no clues what was happening. Then assassins reached his room, hearing sound and seeing them, Narayanrao ran. Assassins followed him. Narayanrao kept running around the complex, crying for help and shouting "Kaka Mala Vachva" (Help!! Uncle Save Me!!). But it was no use and later he was captured and brutally killed near the Jambhul gate (Now known as Narayan gate)

Many believed that Narayanrao’s body was cut into so many pieces. taken out in a pot and thrown into the river. His remains were never found and last rites couldn’t be performed.

Later Raghoba claimed his power on throne.

In 1828 a massive fire started inside the complex. The conflagration raged for seven days. Fort was completely ruined and now we see ruins of the buildings, deep foundation, huge wall and gates. The cause of fire is still unknown.

Shaniwar wada never prospered since its construction and many believe that Shaniwar wada was probably cursed. All it has seen is the bloodshed, death, conspiracy, family bitterness and now alleged as one of the most haunted place in India. One of the most historical monuments is the mute witness to rise and fall of Peshwa.

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