288 years of Shaniwarwada: No battle cry from this historic Pune fort, only a cry for restoration
Budget crunch faced by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) is starting to creep on to the walls of the historic Shaniwarwada. Crumbling edifice, water seepages and worn out iron and wood decor now greet tourists at the archeologically important monument in the city.
The Shaniwarwada celebrated its 288th anniversary on January 22, 2020. The day etched itself in the minds of the authorities because the main door of the fort, which is opened every year on its anniversary, could only be opened partially due to obstruction in its wooden parts, displaying the need for immediate restoration work.
On the anniversary on Wednesday, like every year, descendants of the Peshwa rulers came to the monument and maintenance issues cropped up during the celebration, much to the embarrassment of the civic authorities. To celebrate the anniversary of the 18th century structure, known to be the seat of power during the Peshwa rule, descendants of Brahmin rulers, visit the fort.
The descendants of the Peshwa rulers raised the maintenance issues with the ASI, which admitted that there was an urgent need to restore the fort’s lost glory.
Gajanan Mandaware, conservation assistant, ASI, confirmed that there is a need to act quickly on conserving the right side fortification wall and restoring it at the earliest. “It needs work to help stop water leakages. The leakages are causing the structure to lose its grip and it is crumbling slowly. We are trying our level best to maintain the Shaniwarwada, but we are currently working with only four labourers who clean the entire wada.”
He also said that to maintain the Shaniwarwada, there is a need of Rs 6 crore to cover the immediate repairs. “We are only getting only Rs 10 lakh per year for its maintenance, which is not enough for its upkeep,” he added. For the past two to three years, ASI is facing a budget crunch which is affecting the maintenance of not just the Shaniwarwada, but also many important monuments across India, he added.
The construction of the Shaniwarwada was completed on January 22, 1732, two years after Peshwa Bajirao began its conception. Most of it was reduced to ashes during a fire in 1828.
On Wednesday, Peshwa descendant Uday Sinh Peshwa lamented about the lack of maintenance. The programme was organised by Thorle Bajirao Peshwa Pratishthan with senior historian Mohan Shete. Deputy mayor Saraswati Shendge was also present for the celebration.
“The walls of this wada are slowly crumbling and the ASI is not doing anything about it. At this rate, it will slowly be lost,” Uday Sinh Peshwa said.