Speaking quite frankly, I didn’t expect much from Pune. Shortly after I moved to India, one of my new acquaintances told me that he went to Pune for a brief visit and “nothing was there”. Years later his words still echoed in my ears every time someone mentioned this city. That’s why I kept postponing my trip to Pune, although it’s conveniently located a short trip away from Mumbai.
When the opportunity finally arose, I decided to explore the city without any preconceived notions, and from the very start of the journey, I realized it wouldn’t be a very hard task. I was charmed by the solemn grandeur of the Shanivar Wada fort, the intricacies of the Shinde Chhatri memorial, the peace and quiet of Aga Khan Palace, and the sheer vibe of the streets, lined up with eccentric old building, shops and stalls and filled with a distinguishing cacophony of the Indian street life.
But to be honest, if Pune has nothing to offer, except Vishrambaug Wada, I would still consider the trip worthwhile. It’s been a while since I saw any woodwork as impressive as that.
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Where is Vishrambaug Wada located?
You can find the elegant building of Vishrambaug Wada in the busy area of RB Kumthekar road, in front of the gigantic structure of the Bank of Maharashtra, which is a typical piece of brutalist architecture.
The address is:
RB Kumthekar Rd, Perugate, Sadashiv Peth
Pune, Maharashtra 411030
The history of Vishrambaug Wada
Vishrambaug Wada was built in the very beginning of the 19th century for the Peshwa leaders of the Maratha Empire. The magnificent palace was built over six years and served as a luxurious residence to the last of the Peshwas – Bajirao Peshwa II. He stayed there for over a decade until his army was defeated in the Third Anglo-Maratha war. His wife stayed there on her own until she joined her exiled husband in a small town of Bithur.
Vishrambaug Wada was beautifully designed and provided all the conveniences to the noble family. As for the name of the residence, according to one of the versions, it derives from the name of Vishram the gardener who took great pride in setting up a beautiful garden around the residence.
When the British took over the city, the building served as an education center for learning Sanskrit. It was also put to many other uses even after it was bought by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 1930s. Today, only a part of the palace is open to the public, while the rest of the building houses a post office and a number of government offices. There is also a permanent exhibition in the building which displays the history of the region.
The beautiful architecture of Vishrambaug Wada
The impressive three-story mansion was built in the distinctive style of Maratha’s architecture. Although the majority of buildings constructed during the rule of the Maratha Empire lack the intricacies of the Mughal and Rajput monuments, Vishrambaug Wada looks rather opulent with its amazing woodwork. The beautifully carved balcony and heavy wooden pillars decorate the facade of the building, and the inner courtyard is no less impressive with its imposing staircases and lovely wooden window shutters.
At the entrance, one is greeted by the strange mythical creatures (see the first photo in this post) with wings and scales and floral designs all over their bodies. Don’t you think the chimeras and gargoyles of Mumbai look rather tame in comparison? 🙂 And if we’re speaking of strange animaalistic forms, Vishrambaug Wada is home to the most charming monkey-like gargoyles, which are made entirely of wood. Here they sit at the balcony of the royal mansion, grinning at people on the bustling street below.
The Darbar hall, where dances and different performances used to take place, features impressive wooden columns and intricately carved arches. The vintage kerosene lamps, which are hung over each window, create a really charming effect – I can imagine how pretty and cosy the whole courtyard looks when they’re lit.
Travel tip on visiting Vishrambaug Wada
~ Although I explored the balcony, it was not a safe thing to do as the building was in the state of repair. No one stopped me, so of course, I used the chance to take a closer look at the most decorative part of the palace. However, I’d strongly recommend asking caretakers whether it’s safe to walk on the balcony. And by all means, avoid leaning over.
~ I’m not sure about the entrance tickets. We paid Rs 50 for the two of us, but no tickets or receipts were given – a person just marked something in his journal.
~ Vishrambaug Wada on the map:
~You may also consider exploring other sights nearby: Shaniwar Wada, Lal Mahal and Kelkar Museum.
~ To check out other activities in Pune, click the image below:
~ If you’d like to stay in Pune for more than one day, here are two search boxes to find the best deals on hotels:
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