Shaniwarwada is a palace fort in the Pune city of Maharashtra. It was built in the 18th century by the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire. It is one of the most visited historical places in Maharashtra.

As much as it is known for its historical importance it is also known for its spookiness. The royal history of this fort is blemished with a gruesome murder following political hunger and greed. The walls of this fort have witnessed a heart wrenching tale of treachery, and its marks still remain in the form of a ghost, still lingering in this place. Shaniwarwada is known to be one of the most haunted places in India!

King Shivaji was the first to appoint a Peshwa or a Prime Minister for the Maratha Empire. Balaji Vishwanath was the first Peshwa. He was succeeded by Peshwa Baji Rao I and it was during his tenure that the Shaniwarwada fort was built. The bloodline of the Peshwas thrived and blossomed for four generations until it was marked by a gruesome murder of the fifth heir to the throne.

Peshwa Madhavrao was the fourth to ascend the throne of the Peshwas, he held the helm of things for eleven long years, fighting the Nizam as well as his own uncle Raghunathrao with whom he had many differences. He died at the age of 27 due to tuberculosis and his younger brother Narayanrao succeeded him as the new Peshwa while his uncle Raghunathrao was the acting regent. Differences rose between the two not in much time and things started getting worse. Narayanrao was an immature teenager while Raghunathrao was greedy and rebellious.

Sumer Singh Gardi, the captain of the Gardi guards had several disputes with Narayanrao. On the last day of the Ganesh Festival i.e. on Anant Chaturdashi, Sumer Singh accompanied by his guards stormed into Shaniwarwada and asked Narayanrao to step down. Raghunathrao and Anandibai promised Sumer Singh that they would mediate and solve all their disputes with Narayanrao. The Gardis requested Narayanrao to accompany them to meet Raghunathrao and sort out the disputes. But he did not budge. This angered the Gardis and a heated argument resulted into the murder of Narayanrao.

It is widely believed that Raghunathrao had sent a message to the Gardi guards to get hold of Narayanrao (‘Dhara’ in Marathi that means to get hold) but his wife Anandibai intercepted the message and changed ‘Dhara’ into ‘Maara’ meaning kill. This miscommunication led the Gardis to kill Narayanrao in the presence of Raghunathrao. Narayanrao is known to have run around the fort of Shaniwarwada, pleading his uncle to save him, crying and saying “Kaka mala vachva” meaning “Uncle save me!” Narayanrao was cut into so small pieces by the guards that his body parts were transported out of the fort in a vessel and then cremated. This gruesome crime shed poor light on the honor of the Peshwas and was the most horrific act performed in the presence of a Peshwa.

The place where he was killed is haunted by his spirit even today, moving around the fort palace, urging his uncle to save him. Locals who stay close to the fort have heard his cries on some specific nights and think that his distressed soul is still seeking help. Tourists visit Shaniwarwada in order to experience something paranormal but nothing weird has been reported so far. Guides at Shaniwarwada always tell this tale to the tourists and show them the place where Narayanrao was murdered. The majestic charm of the fort still seems to work, but the history of the events that once happened inside its walls doesn’t seem to fade. Indian history and its saga of the colonial era seem have many interesting facets.

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