Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra in the central part of India. It is also the seventh largest city in India with an area of about 710 sq km. The average elevation of the metropolis is 560 metres and more than nine million people live here. It can be said that the region was inhabited in 8th century AD, by carbon-dating, the copper plates which were excavated here. The 17th century was a time of stiff competition among the Marathas and Mughals, who desperately wanted to control it. For nearly a century from 1720 to 1817, Peshwas like Baji Rao controlled the region and built a number of temples. The Battle of Khadki, resulted in the Peshwa defeat and the British victory. A lot of development happened in the city after India gained independence in 1947 and since then, it has gained a reputation as a preferred holiday destination. A Pune tour can be planned to come here and visit its attractions like Shaniwar Wada, public parks, Aga Khan Palace and Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum.
Shaniwar Wada is a royal palace in the city, the construction of which was started by Baji Rao Peshwa in 1730. Teak from Junnar, stones from Chinchwad and limestone from Jejuri was brought to build it at a total cost of INR 16110, which was considered a lot in those times. It was opened after performing elaborate Hindu rituals on January 22, 1732. During the course of its existence, many additions and modifications were made to it by its residents. The Dilli Darwaza is the most important of the five gates into the complex. As the name suggests, it faces the city of Delhi and is large enough for elephants to enter. Metal spikes have been erected on it, facing outwards, to prevent an invasion by elephant-mounted soldiers. It is further strengthened with metal bars and heavy bolts, at the joints. The right door has a smaller door from where humans can enter.
A path, turning at right angles first to the right and then to the left, leads to the main complex. This is another defensive feature that is characteristic of military fortifications. Khidki, Mastani, Ganesh and Jambhul are the names of the other four gateways into the castle. Most of the important buildings like the audience hall, dance hall and mirror hall were ravaged by the fire of 1828; hence, only written descriptions of them are available. According to these accounts, all the structures had carved arches and teak pillars supporting the ceiling. These columns are said to be exquisitely carved with images of vines and flowers. Scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata were depicted on walls and polished marble floors.
Gardens and Directions
The most significant feature of the fort that survives till date is its expansive lush gardens. It situated on two levels: one is on the ground and the other is slightly raised and is accessed via a small flight of stairs. The gardens are dotted with numerous water pools, fountains and are dominated by a statue of Lord Ganesha, in one of its corners. This tourist attraction is located 3 km from the railway station and 11 km from the international airport, which serves flights coming from major Indian cities, along with Dubai and Frankfurt.