Pune has housed many noteworthy historical names as well as history itself. Punyanagari, as it was once known, was the land of good fortune and luck. The central name in the fight for freedom, Marathi ‘samrajya’ was based on the foundation of our city. Much of Mahrashtra’s glorious history and recognition is to be owed to Pune.
With history comes historical monuments. A collection of walls and pillars which are more than what they seem; they have seen, housed, and nurtured history and heritage itself. One such name in our heritage list is the popular Lal Mahal;built by Shivaji Maharaj’s father Shahaji Bhosale for his wife- Jijabai Bhosale and their son, Shivaji. Shivaji Maharaj stayed in this palace for a long time till he captured his first fort, Torna.
Many tales are associated with Lal Mahal, the fondest folk lore being Shivaji’s marriage with his first wife- Saibai. Lal Mahal eventually fell into ruins around the end of the 17th century due to massive attacks on the city.
The current Lal Mahal is a renovation, the original palace fell down and although it’s location is unknown, it is rumored to be extremely close to Shaniwarwada. Another legend being that the stones from the original Lal Mahal were used in the construction of Shaniwarwada as a sign of good luck.
Recollecting history now, Lal Mahal is famous for an encounter between Shivaji Maharaj and Shaista Khan. The thrilling tale is narrated even today, where Shivaji Maharaj cut Shaista Khan’s fingers as he was escaping. This attack was a metaphor for the guerilla attacks which would follow and severely hurt the Mughal army.
The present day Lal Mahal houses an enormous oil painting of the entire incident; a must-visit for all history enthusiasts. Other artifacts include a statue of Jijabai, a carving depicting Shivaji using a gold plough along with Jijabai, a fiber model of Raigad, and a huge map of Maharashtra which signifies the forts captured by Shivaji Maharaj.
Lal Mahal is a gem for PMC, a cultural masterpiece for Pune. Every year, it gets several visitors and has been showcased in a lot of historical movies. The tours of Lal Mahal will help you to take a walk through history; the sky gallery, entrances, halls, paintings, are all reminders of a glorious history. The blood, sweat, and tears of the Marathas and what they stood for can be felt in this structure.