The delectation compiled with the awe-inspiring and majestic grandeur of the site marks the sign of a true heritage site. Yes, this is the majestic Shaniwar wada of Pune. The human genius finds a way to the glory when challenged the most and today we witness the gargantuan Shaniwar wada of Pune.
The fort was constructed in the year 1786 and it served as the capital seat for the Peshwas till the year 1818 when they lost the battle to the British East India Company after the third Anglo Maratha war. Shaniwar wada is a perfect epitome of zeal. The fort was constructed by the Peshwas. The opening ceremony of the fort was performed according to the Hindu religious customs on January 22, 1732 and it was the day of Saturday (Shaniwar).
Why have I selected Shaniwar Wada as a potential World Heritage Site?
According to the criteria laid down by UNESCO, a site can be nominated for the WHS (World Heritage Site) if it is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
During those war times, it was difficult to construct a fort with fortifications which could even withstand the power of mighty elephant forces. Shaniwar Wada has five gates in total. One among them is the Dilli Darwaza. This gate faces towards the north (Delhi) indicating the hatred which the Marathas had towards the Mughals. The gate particularly being large enough has massive doors that can admit elephants outfitted with the howdahs. The human intelligence flaunts here in many ways thereby making it a potential nomination for the WHS. Each pane of the gate has seventy-two sharp twelve-inch steel spikes arranged in a nine by eight grid, at approximately the height of the forehead of a battle-elephant. This ensured that whenever the opposing force wants to enter the fort and lead bloodshed, their own elephants were merely killed by the human intelligence of installing the spikes on the gate. In order to add to the protection of the Peshwas, the panes were fortified with heavy steel cross members and the borders were bolted with steel bolts with a sharp cone edge. The mechanism didn’t quite right stops here; the bastions flanking the gatehouse have arrow-loops and machicolation chutes through which the hot substances could be poured onto enemy raiders. On the other hand, the right pane has a small man-sized door for usual entries and exits, too small to allow an army to enter rapidly and owing to this, only the warriors who were skilled in understanding the entire tactic could pass the passage without losing their lives.
To add to the beauty, even if the war gates were kept open the incoming army had to turn through various directions in order to reach the main wada and this gave the Peshwas another golden opportunity to attack the opposing forces. There is another gate named as the Khidki Darwaja (facing east), it is typically famous for the armoured window it has. Some of the other gates are the Mastani Darwaja (Mastani’s Gate), Ganesh Darwaja, Jambhul Darwaja or Narayan Darwaja. Overall the fort was designed in the best possible manner to provide a winning edge to the Peshwas.
Another criteria to get selected as a WHS is that the site be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)
The wada has a fountain named Hazari Karanje (Fountain of a thousand jets). The atypical part that makes this fountain different is that it was designed as a sixteen petal lotus and each petal had sixteen jets with an eighty foot arch. This idea makes it completely disparate and is an example of brilliance compiled with the human genius of architecture.
Importance of current WHS’s
WHS is a special place selected by the UNESCO which has special cultural or physical significance. Each WHS conveys a different story and adds to the beauty of the planet. These sites highlight the extraordinary efforts taken by the people in order to establish something new in the prevailing culture. Such sites act as an inspiration to the generations coming ahead and make the world aware of the several different cultures that exist in harmony.
The main message that is conveys is that the sites do not belong to any nation or set of people, they are meant for the entire human race and this unites the entire world.
Upon taking a survey of twelve people who have had visited the Shaniwar Wada Palace, following are the results: