Shaniwar Wada Fort

When you have kids, everyone in India suggest you go to the local sound and light show.  That is the thing to do with kids.  So when our trip to Pune came up, the hotel concierge said, “See the sound and lights show at Shaniwar Wada, your son will love it”.  I finally decided to give in and go to one.  My son at that time was staying up late so it was doable.

Lonely Plant advertised that this was a daily event, so on our first night we hired a car, fought traffic, and had the driver take us to the fort for our first ever sound and lights show, arriving only 10 minutes before show time.  I put my son in the stroller and ran to the ticket booth to buy our tickets.  But no one was there.  They must be at the fort door, so i ran to the fort main entrance.  No one was there either, strange.  I went back to the ticket booth now, meeting my husband and starting to get nervous.  He luckily had found a guard, however the guard only spoke Hindi.  Many of you know, my husband doesn’t really speak Hindi.  Growing up in the south, where Hindi education was considered an imposition, he chose to not learn the language.  This however is a problem, anyplace other than Tamil Nadu in India.

After going back and forth with broken Hindi, English, and hand gestures, we finally figured out what he was trying to convey.  We think he was telling us that to have the show they need to sell at least 30 tickets.  We were the first ones to show up.  I tried to buy 30 tickets (at this point I was vested) but he wouldn’t sell them to me.  So I ended up having to tell my disappointed son that there would be no sound and lights show.

I was still determined to see the fort, so we went back our last day to properly tour the fort in the sunlight.  Built in 1746, it was the seat of the Maratha empire until they surrendered to the British in 1818.  The fort was largely destroyed in a fire in 1828, so in entering the fort you are only seeing the remains and the outline of what was the seat of Chatrapathi Shivaji, whose name is ubiquitous all over Maharashtra and more so in Mumbai and Pune.

You enter into the fort though the large main gate with its massive imposing spikes.  Once inside, you see the expansive layout before you.  As you walk the grounds and see the foundations of the rooms you can imagine just how large and imposing this fort once was.

Those are some serious spikes!

Those are some serious spikes!

This fort had wide open spaces, lots of fun places to climb, and an open invitation to touch everything since there were no rare artifacts.  That would explain why my son chose this visit to nap in the stroller.  Lifting the stroller up the stairs and through the grounds soon proved difficult.  I had to pick a shady spot to sit with the stroller while my husband continued on to climbed the stairs to walk the walls of the fort.  As I sat, waiting for him to return so I could go, I listened to the teacher of a local English speaking school group as she explained some of the history to the eager and engaged school group.

As you can see, not very stroller friendly

As you can see, not very stroller friendly

The school group that was all over the grounds

The school group that was all over the grounds

My son finally woke up and entertained the school kids for a few minutes before they moved on and my husband and driver came back.  He excitedly told me of the gorgeous views and amazing structure.  I was excited and went to take my son up with me.  Finally a chance for him to enjoy!  My husband just looked at me and said “There isn’t time, we have a lunch reservation”.  Crestfallen, I went back to the car, now grumpy I was cheated out of a sound and lights show and awesome views.

A walk along the fort's outer walls

A walk along the fort’s outer walls

A view of the grounds from above

A view of the grounds from above

I do believe if my son had been awake he would have really enjoyed it.  There was lots of space to run and yell,and lots of steps and old walls to climb.   Since its not stroller friendly, this is place to come when the kids are awake and have some energy to burn.  If your kids are older and will appreciate the history, it’s worth hiring a guide.  The signs are old and worn and in many places missing.  I learned the most when ever I was near the school group.

  • Timings: 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, everyday
  • Fees: 100 rupes for foreigners, 5 rupes for Indians, and 25 rupes for camera use.

All photos taken by Atma Photography

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