Peshwa Heritage In Pune – Wadas, Temples And Markets


Once upon a time, I lived in Narayan Peth in Pune. Last year I walked the roads around it as part of the city Heritage Walk or rather a discovery of Pune of the Peshwa era. The place has obviously changed over all these years but there was an element that remained unchanged. The very Marathi character of the place is still intact – thankfully. Come with me to see some of the things you should not miss when going to the heart of the city – especially the Peshwa Heritage scattered all around.

Shaniwar Wada, Pune

Peshwa Heritage in Pune – A Walking Tour

This walk begins at Shaniwar Wada – the medieval palace of the Peshwas who ruled from here.

Shaniwar Wada – the Peshwa Home

Shaniwar Wada stands next to Kasba Peth – the oldest part of Pune. It is a palace that looks like a fort, surrounded by the city. It has recently been made famous by the film Bajirao Mastani – which was based at Shaniwar Wada. Well, if you have seen the film and you come looking for the grandeur shown there, you are in for a huge disappointment. Shaniwar Wada is a rather simpler place. Add to this the fact that not much remains inside the façade and the boundary walls that look formidable.

Remains and lawns of Shaniwar Wada
Remains and lawns of Shaniwar Wada

We enter through a tall wooden door flanked by two bastions on either side. A small board on top confirms that you are entering Shaniwar Wada. As you buy tickets, stretch your neck and look upwards at the walls around you. You would see faint paintings of Ganesha – who was the pattern deity of the Peshwa dynasty.

History of Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada Main Gate, a Peshwa rulers heritage of Pune
Shaniwar Wada Main Gate

Shaniwar Wada was first built as a residence of Peshwas in the 1730s. It was but a mansion for the ruling family. The gates, bastions, and gardens were later added over time. A lot of wood was used for these palaces. There was a fire in 1828 and everything was gutted. What remains are the bare foundations of the rooms and skeletons of the fountains.

There is an ASI board that gives the description of the palaces, halls, and gardens as they would have been during the hay days of Shaniwar Wada. It talks about the wall murals that told the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata, of the artists who came from around the world to do work here. It tells us about a seven-storeyed structure that must have been the most magnificent part of Shaniwar Wada.

Walk around the lawns and you would see a few old trees, a lovely fountain called Hajari Karanje, and a lot of foundations. It is said that Hajari Karanje once was a fountain with a thousand sprays. On the edges next to the wall, some structures have survived. There are 5 gates that are more or less intact – 2 each on the east and north and one on the south. The main door is called Dilli Darwaja – I assume it is because it faced Delhi or towards the North.

Another board shows the Peshwa family tree.

Mastani Darwaja

Peshwa Family Tree - Shaniwar Wada, Pune
Peshwa Family Tree

Mastani Darwaja is interesting as it is a small door at one end of the wall. The story goes that when Mastani was brought here by Peshwa BajiRao, she was not allowed in from the main gate so he got this door specially made for her. It is sometimes also known by her grandson’s name – Ali Bahadur. This door as per records used to be called Natakshala Gate.

Ganapati Rang Mahal here has seen many political battles being fought within its walls.


Ganesh mural at the entrance of Shaniwar Wada
Ganesh mural at the entrance of Shaniwar Wada

The best-preserved part of Shaniwar Wada is the first story on top of the main gate called NagarKhana. It has a lovely wooden pillared hall that overlooks the Shaniwar Wada on one side and the outside of the city on another side. It is here that you can see the marker of Peshwa architecture – the pillars with banana flowers carved on them. I saw them here and then across all the old monuments of the city that I visited.

Did you know Shaniwar Wada is so-called? Well, there used to be a Saturday market just outside the big gate of the palace and that is what gave this area the name – Shaniwar Wada.

Heritage Map of Pune
Heritage Map of Pune

In fact, Pune has Wadas named after other days of the week too like Budhwar Peth, and Shukrawar Peth.

What you need to notice is that Peshwas never called it a palace or a fort, they called it a Wada – which is a word used for a home. Though, at its peak, about 1000 people lived in these premises.

Kasba Ganapati

Kasba Ganapati Temple, Kasba Peth
Kasba Ganapati Temple, Kasba Peth

The Kasba Ganapati is gram Devta or the village deity of Pune. I know it is no longer a village but still, Kasba Ganapati remains at the heart of the city that was then known as Punawadi.

Legend is that way back in 1630, Maharani Jijabai lived with her young son Shivaji in the city. She found an idol of Ganesha and taking it as an auspicious sign, she got the temple built for it. Since then Kasba Peth Ganapati is the presiding deity of Pune. It is said that Shaniwar Wada which is located quite close to this temple used to have great celebrations on Ganesh Chaturthi.

It is a small temple, still reflecting the village it was supposed to take care of. No photography is allowed inside the temple but you can see images on the temple website.

On the way to Kasba Peth temple notice the parapets of the old houses with their Victorian imagery.

Nana Wada

Banana flower endings at Nana Wada, a Peshwa rulers heritage
Banana flower endings at Nana Wada

Situated very close to Shaniwar Wada the Nana Wada was the home of Nana Fadnavis – the administrator of the Peshwas. Built-in 1780, this structure in wood is also an example of Peshwa architecture. Its wooden pillars are in cypress shape and each has a banana flower adorning it.

The first floor of Nana Wada has a Diwan Khana. When I visited it in August 2016, massive restoration was going on. I had to jump around to take some pictures.

Tambdi Jogeshwari Temple

Offerings for the Tambdi Jogeshwari Temple
Offerings for the Tambdi Jogeshwari Temple

The narrow lane leading to the main door of Tambdi Jogeshwari temple greets you with the colorful blouse pieces that are offered to the deity – Shri Jogeshwari. Tambri refers to the red color of the main idol which is supposed to be Swayambhu – the one that appears on its own.

Tambdi Jogeshwari is the oldest temple and the deity is the presiding gram Devi of Pune. The temple has small carvings in stone. I saw a lot of women praying to her.

Records of Peshwa rulers tell us that they used to seek the blessings of the Goddess before their military campaigns.

Read more on Temple Website

Dagdusheth Ganapati Temple – Peshwa Heritage

Dagdusheth Ganapati Temple Shikhara, a Peshwa rulers heritage
Dagdusheth Ganapati Temple Shikhara

The Dagdusheth temple was built by a Halwai named Dagdusheth in the 1800s. He lost his son and his Guru advised him to construct a Ganesh temple. Bal Gangadhar Tilak got the idea of celebrating Ganeshotsav from this temple which would play an important role in India’s freedom movement.

Today, this is one of the most revered temples of Maharashtra. The Ganesh Utsav is visited by the who’s who of the city and state. On a normal day, you can stop in front of the temple and see the proceedings. Only a glass wall separates you and the Ganesha. You would typically see many mobile phones pointing toward the deity.

To admire its Shikhara, you have to stand at a distance and see the bell-shaped superstructure with a lot of latticework done on it. From across the road, you can see two jharokhas on the walls of the temple. The ground story has marble work done on the walls. However, the dominating figure is that of Ganesha himself – who stands tall and healthy with all his charm.

Shops outside this temple sell flower garlands, fruits arranged on small plates, and all other Pooja materials.

Mahatma Phule Mandai

Mahatma Phule Mandai - the vegetable market
Mahatma Phule Mandai – the vegetable market

This is the centralized vegetable market that was built by the British in 1885, as is evident from its neo-gothic architecture. So, all the vegetable markets that existed outside various Wadas shifted here. It has an interesting octagonal structure with a central tower.

What I found interesting in Mahatma Phule Mandai is that each of the 8 arms of the Mandai serves a particular sub-section of the market. I roamed around in the coconut market, where there are coconut sellers everywhere.

Technically, Mahatma Phule Mandai is located in Shukrawar Peth.

Vishrambaug Wada

Vishram Baug Wada, a Peshwa Heritage of Pune
Vishram Baug Wada

My walk came to end at the lovely Vishrambaug Wada – a lovely mansion in wood with courtyards that now tell the stories of the city.

Peth Map during the Peshwa rulers of Pune
Peth Map

Vishram Baug Wada was the residence of Peshwa Bajirao II built in the early 19th CE. The loveliest part of it is – its wooden façade with finely carved brackets and a hanging balcony overlooking an extremely busy road.

Brackets of Vishrambaug Wada, a Peshwa Heritage of Pune
Brackets of Vishrambaug Wada

There is an exhibition about the city that says – Punawadi to Punyanagari. The exhibition traces the history of the city through the development of its various Peths, its water management system, and through its people.

Peth history of Pune
Peth history

The rear part of the building is not open to the public. Parts of it are occupied by some organizations including a post office. However, I did manage to see the rear courtyard and it definitely looks majestic. A bit of restoration and can be a heritage jewel of Pune.

Tulasi Baug Ram Mandir

Tulasi Baug Ram Mandir a Peshwa Heritage of Pune
Tulasi Baug Ram Mandir

You cannot miss the tall spire of the Ram Mandir which is almost like an inverted cone with a lot of stucco work on it. It almost seems to be cropping out of a bustling market. Yes, the temple is surrounded by Tulasi Baug market. It is a market that sells everyday things – mostly comprising small shops.

The temple has a wooden base to which the tall shikhara was added at a later date. The wood carvings are worth seeing as are some of the paintings that depict the scenes from Ramayana. No photography is allowed inside the temple.

The temple Shikhara reminded me of the similar temples that I saw in Ayodhya and Orchha. Most of them are also dedicated to Lord Ram.

Read More:

Ayodhya – the city of Ram & Ramayana

Orccha – the Hidden Gem of India

Shivalinga on the banks of Mula River, a Peshwa Heritage of Pune
Shivalinga on the banks of the Mula River

My walk ended at this unnamed shrine on the banks of Mula River that has a Shivalinga with verses of Gita written on the marble slab.

I did this walk with Jayesh Paranjape of The Western Routes. They conduct many such walks across the city.


  1. In 1992 I design a new car for Tata Motors called Tata Safari. Being in Pune for one year changed my life for good. I found my teacher Gurumayi Chidvilasananda leader of Siddha Yoga Foundation. The point I’d like to make was each week at sunrise followers would meet in a little building in Tulasi Baug market to sing bhajans. How glorious, amazing and beautiful that time was.

    • Gordon, I lived in Pune in 1995 in an area called Narayan Peth and have very fond memories of that time. Next time I am in Pune, I will try and visit Tulasi Baug and explore it more intimately. The temples there are intriguing, even in their architecture.

  2. Anuradha
    After seeing the film I visited Shaniwar wada in Feb 2016. Your article has given such an indepth & beautiful insight into the history & architecture of the city. Now the heritage walk is on my” to visit” list the next time I come to India. Hoping/planning end 2017. Thank you

  3. Enjoyed reading the article on Pune. It brought me the memories of visiting some of these sites with my dear friend Shashi Thakur who lives there. Among the listing of various Peths there is one name that stood out for me. Muzaffarjung 1759, among all other names being Hindu. How was this named? Any history or reference to this effect? I believe he was the ruler of Hydarabad. Why would Maratha have a Peth named after him in Pune?

  4. Very well compiled information about Pune city. I am living in Pune for more than 50 years and am not knowledgeable about Muzaffarjung and Nrusinhapura areas in the city. Can you enlighten me about their locations and history?
    Of particular interest is Nrusinhapura as we have an ancestorial deity of Lord Nrusinha or Narsimha in our house which dates back to Peshwa era. It was originally housed in our wada which was located in Budhwar peth.


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