In 1758, when the Maratha army took control of Punjab and Lahore, forcing Ahmad Shah Abdali to retreat, the Peshwa dynasty was at its zenith, it was one of the most powerful empires in the country. Abdali, agitated by the humiliating defeat over his territories, decided to challenge the Peshwas in the open field.
Seeing Abdali advance, Sadashivrao Bhau headed north towards Delhi with a large army of 100,000 men that was strengthened by other Maratha forces on the way. Bhau hoped to put his nephew on the Mughal throne. But the Maratha plans suffered a setback when their potential allies, the Jats, withdrew from the battle.
The Maratha army’s defeat at the hands of Abdali in the Third Battle of Panipat was a huge blow for the Peshwa empire. This battle has a major role to play in the downfall of the Peshwas.
Nana Phadnavis escaped from the Battle of Panipat and went on to play a pivotal role in keeping the crumbling Peshwa empire together during this period of internal instability and the rising power of the East India Company.
During his time as the chief administrator of the Peshwa dynasty, Nana Phadnavis constructed many temples and monuments across Pune. But one monument that stands out is the Nana Wada. Constructed in 1780, Nana Wada is one of the oldest and the most popular monument that gives us a glimpse of the Peshwas heritage.
Located close to the famous Shaniwar Wada, the Nana Wada is made largely timber. One of the major architectural features of the wad are its beautiful arches and the wall paintings, that have faded with time. Most of the original structures of the Wada is still intact.
The balconies with wooden railings, the carved ceilings, the exquisite woodwork, all speak of the rich Peshwa culture.
The Diwan-Khana, the veranda with wall paintings, the finely carved wooden arches, the cypress-shaped pillars and the motifs of the banana flower, still leave the visitors mesmerised.
In 1907, Pune’s Deccan Education Society started operating the New English School in Nana Wada. The Wada was also expanded later, to accommodate the school. The expanded colonial building has traces of modern British architecture.
Today, the Wada houses the municipal office of old records and a municipal school. To bring back the lost glory of the Nana Wada, the Pune Municipal Corporation has undertaken the restoration project for some parts of the monument.
Cover image source: thealternative