Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mighty fort of Marathas - Shaniwar wada, Pune,

Maratha Fortification,Shaniwar Wada fort.Pune, Maharashtra. www.trekearth.com
Shaniwar Wada, Fort Pune, India,  www.spicejet.com
Lawn inside Shaniwar Wada, fort,  double-dolphin.blogspot.com
Fortifications are, in reality, military constructions or buildings designed for the defense of territories in times of war, and also used to consolidate  rule in a region during peace time.  Since the dawn of civilization  humans have become more concerned about the safety of  their places  during wars  or invasions  and built defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs. With the passage of time, they  have introduced some innovations for better defense and facilities in case of a long siege. The term is derived from the Latin fortis ("strong") and facere ("to make").

Shaniwar Wada,  an  historical fortification  in the  city  of Pune,  Maharashtra, India  was the palace of  the Peshwas -  rulers of the Maratha since the 18th century C.E. The palace became a center of politics  during the hey days of Maratha power. Later they   were  defeated by the  British India company in 1818.
 
Shaniwar Wada palace's Delhi Gate, Pune.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki


Above Palace:  Shaniwar Wada palace. Delhi gate, Pune.  strong Steel spikes  are fixed on the thick, strong door panes to discourage charging elephants, 

To  build  a  massive  fort,  for  security  reasons, the ceremonial foundation work  began by Bajirao I, prime minister to Chattrapati Shahu, king of the Maratha empire, on  Saturday 10th January 1730 C.E  and  was completed in 1732 on another auspicious  Saturday  in  January as per Hindu religious customs and traditions. The name  Shaniwar Wada  refers to the fort's association with Saturday.  

Shaniwar Wada - Pune MouthShut.com

A heavily fortified building complex with nine bastions and five gateways,  spreading over  625 acres  was  primarily the seat/residence of the Peshwas ( titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. They were leader in military expeditions and great strategist). The building was made of stones brought from  quarries of Chinchwad, using lime-sand mortar;  lime from the limestones of  Jejuri.  The five gates are the Delhi  Darwaja (North), Mastani Darwaja (Mastani's Gate, North, used by Bajirao's wife Mastani ), Khidki Darwaja - Window Gate (East), Ganesh Darwaja (Ganesh Gate, South-East) and  Jambhul Darwaja or Narayan Darwaja (Narayan's Gate, South - meant for concubines), 

Painting by Prakash Chandras Shaniwar wada,). Pune, www.chandrasarts.com
The impressive part of the fort is its  21ft tall main  entrance  of the  complex,  facing  North i.e. towards  Delhi  and  hence is  named as  the ''Delhi Darwaja'' (Gate).   Baji Rao's ambitions against the Mughal empire,  suggested that the main gate should be made 'chhaatiiche, maatiche naahi! (in Marathi for of the chests of brave soldiers, not mere mud).  Many additions  had been made  to  the  original  plan  of  the  palace since  its construction.  In the final phase,  the palace was a seven storied building with four large and many smaller courtyards (chauk)  and it consisted of exquisite fountains , that are not functional now, and numerous gardens.  But the most   impressive one being  the sixteen petal lotus shaped fountain called the ''Hazaari Kaaranja'' (fountain of a thousand jets).

A hall in the first floor above Delhi Gate. Shaniwar Wada, Pune en.wikipedia. org

The  important features about the North gate - Delhi Darwaja  are massive gates through which elephants with howdahs (a seat with a canopy over) could easily pass through and to discourage the charging of enemy elephants, the pane  of the gate is  firmly  fixed  with  seventy-two sharp twelve-inch steel spikes  in a nine by eight grid,  roughly at  the height of the forehead  of  a battle-elephant. The steel  borders were bolted with steel bolts having sharpened cone head.  It will be difficult for the tuskers to bang their head against the gate to get it open.  Besides the gate house has  machicolation (special openings) through which  boiling  oil  could  be  poured  onto  the raiders on the offense mode. The inner parts  of the fort are built in such a way, if the main gate is opened by force,  the invading  army has to make  sharp  right or  left turn  to  proceed  further.  It means the defending  army gets  vantage points to make counter attack  and recapture the main gate.

The important parts the palace included court reception hall of the eldest ruler - in Marathi Thorlya Rayancha Diwankhana, Dance hall - Naachacha Diwankhana  and Old Mirror Hall - Juna Arsa Mahal . The buildings were destroyed during a major fire accident in 1828. It is believed that these buildings, deigned by many  famous artisans, had doorways with beautiful teak arches, ornamental teak pillars, exquisite glass chandeliers hung from the ceilings and highly polished marble, arranged in a mosaic pattern. The catchy paintings depicted scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Lots of tourists visit this fort, which was once  a busy place from where the great  Maratha warriors successfully defended the mighty Moguls and the British East India company forces.

Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaniwar_Wada