Mastani Mahal at Kelkar Museum

posted in: Asia, Cities, Heritage, India, Maharashtra | 69

If Bajirao Mastani interests you and if you have liked my last post on Shaniwar Wada, you are sure to get intrigued by this one. The Mastani Mahal – or the Palace of Mastani. For those who have not seen the movie or are unaware of Bajirao, a quick story from history.

The Epic Romance of Bajirao Mastani

Bajirao as I have mentioned earlier, was the Prime Minister or Peshwa to Chhatrapati Shahu. A mighty leader who had led several campaigns for the Chhatrapati and returned victorious in those. Amongst the various military campaigns he led, was one for Maharaja Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand. The Maharaja was facing a constant threat from the Mughal officials and called upon this brave Peshwa to help him out. Peshwa Baji Rao answered his plea and emerged victorious in this battle. As a sign of gratitude, it is said that the Maharaja offered him his daughter Mastani.

Image Credits: Mughal School under Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Image Credits: Mughal School under Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is said that Mastani bai was one of the most beautiful women of her times and it is no wonder that Baji Rao fell head over heels in love with her. He took her on as his second wife and returned home to face the wrath of his Brahmin mother. A couple of reasons why the mother-in-law hated her new daughter-in-law – She was a half Muslim and a half Hindu. Some say that she was not a true princess – a daughter of a dancer from the Maharaja’s court. Well !!! Among the many virtues that Baji Rao’s mother had, tolerance was definitely missing!

Well, the story goes like any other mom-in-law and daughter-in-law story goes. However, this went to the extent that the lady Mastani was put under house arrest when Baji Rao was out for a military campaign. On his return, he freed Mastani and put her up in her own separate residence – Mastani Mahal.

Mastani Mahal

The Mastani Mahal no longer exists in Pune. However, history has it that it was a beautiful palace. The best part of it is that a section of it still lives – not at its original location but at the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune.

About the Mastani Mahal at Kelkar Museum
About the Mastani Mahal at Kelkar Museum

Dr. D.G Kelkar was instrumental in helping conserve this piece of heritage. The original Mastani Mahal is said to have been in Kothrud, in Pune. After being ignored for years, and before it completely vanished, Dr. Kelkar helped dismantle and recreate a part of this palace within his own museum. The rest as you can read above.

Mastani Mahal Section of Kelkar Museum
Mastani Mahal Section of Kelkar Museum

The gorgeous sitting arrangements, the chandeliers, the wall art and Mastani’s instruments is what fills up the space. Granted that this is just a small room and some of you might say – what is the big deal. For me, I saw something more than just a room.

I pictured the beautiful Mastani playing her instrument while Bajirao was reclining on the pillows, admiring his wife. In the background were two maids, fanning their master and mistress, enjoying the beautiful melody that Mastani bai created 🙂

Mastani's silver mirror and musical instrument
Mastani’s silver mirror and musical instrument

I happened to chat with a few officials of the museum and they told me that the woodwork in the recreated palace, behind the seating arrangements was originally found at Mastani Mahal. As was the silver mirror and her musical instrument that you see at the end of the seating. I am not sure of the ceiling being the original, but if it were, I would not be surprised either.

Mastani Mahal

The corridors of Mastani Mahal section at Kelkar Museum
The corridors of Mastani Mahal section at Kelkar Museum

The corridors that you see above, used to be the endless ones in the original palace. Imagine the dark wooden corridors lit with numerous lamps lighting up the path for Bajirao to meet his beloved. 🙂

I know that the grandeur displayed here is a small representation of what is completely lost. However, I am happy that some bit of history is still preserved. My vote of thanks to Dr.Kelkar for preserving and gifting us memoirs of the past. And that was not all, he preserved many other amazing things. All that in my next post about the Kelkar Museum in Pune. Till then, let’s admire and pin up this bit of the epic romance between Baji Rao and Mastani, at the Mastani Mahal in Pune.

Mastani Mahal

Getting to Mastani Mahal:

  • Pune is easily accessible by road, rail and air from Mumbai as well as other cities of India. There are plenty of direct international flights to Pune.
  • Mastani Mahal is a part of the Kelkar Museum that is right in the middle of Pune city. You can reach Kelkar Museum by bus, cab or an auto rickshaw. Many tourist buses take you on a tour of this museum.

My other posts on Pune:

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69 Responses

  1. asoulwindow

    Very interesting. Would love to see this next time I am Pune. Especially after watching the movie Bajirao Mastani. Good story!

  2. Yogi Saraswat

    I was looking for this type of post on Mastani mahal. very informative really

  3. Akanksha Dureja

    My two and a half year stint in Pune was filled with weekend getaways to western ghats and now after reading this post, I regret not exploring the city to it’s potential. I shall return someday, with an agenda.

  4. Klipdrifters

    The chandeliers and wall art looks beautiful. What a great story of this by gone era!

    • Ami

      Thank you. I know that this is just a small preview of what was but at least we have that.

  5. vishvarsha

    After reading multiple posts of yours, now I know, I may have explored enough around Pune but I surely haven’t seen the historic city itself.

  6. Archie

    Must have been a wonderful place in its time 🙂 great pics!

  7. Rajiv Verma

    Waah! This is wonderful! Your last few posts have introduced me to so much history in a wonderful way jitna maine purey school me nahi padha tha 🙂

  8. 2traveldads

    Wow! It’s so beautiful and ornate, but also seems like a livable residence. India has so much history and art. So beautiful!

    • Ami

      Thanks Guys. The room is so beautiful that it is hard to imagine what the palace might have been.

    • Ami

      This was an addition to the Kelkar museum. Though a small room, I did think it was well done.

  9. Marta - Learningescapes

    Your photos are always incredible but this place seems special: the texture and the colour is so unusual and beautiful. I enjoyed reading the story, I had never heard it before, thank you for sharing

    • Ami

      Thanks Marta. Bajirao and Mastani’s story is not as popular as the other epic ones in India but is fascinating nonetheless.

  10. Couple On Quest

    Very well captured and elaborated. Couldn’t agree more with you Ami nothing precious than preserving the past memoirs.
    When I visited this place as a kid, I imagined the Baji Rao-Mastani era for many years till the movie came out 😛

    • Ami

      Thanks guys. I think our heritage is our strength. There are very few places today that can boast of diverse cultures and heritage as India and we must do our best to preserve it.

  11. 2travellingsisters

    Such an elaborate work!! Gorgeous living space for a gorgeous woman!!

  12. Kevin Wagar

    Looks like a very cool display with an incredible story behind it. I love visiting places that can capture my imagination like this!

  13. Nikki

    Wow this really is incredible India! It’s the sort of room I could sit in for hours pondering about life (and blogging!)

  14. Corinne Rodrigues

    Wonderful. Hats off to people like Dr Kelkar who work so hard to preserve history and kudos to you for bringing this and other wonders to our notice, Ami

    • Ami

      Thanks Corinne. Though a small room, the effort that went into preserving it, made me feel happy.

  15. Vyjay Rao

    My list of places to visit in Pune keeps growing, thanks to you, Ami. This museum seems fascinating, especially with the recent Bollywood movie, the romance of the Peshwa and Mastani, has come to the fore 🙂

  16. elizabeth

    The original palace must have been quite elegant. So good that some part was preserved and the history has not been lost.

  17. Colby

    Wow. So informative! Definitely enlightening me to things I’ve never heard of.

  18. Arun

    Such an interesting place! Thanks to the movie Bajirao Mastani, got to know about a part of history which I was totally unaware of. Will surely visit this on my next trip to Pune.
    Wonderful post Ami 🙂

    • Ami

      And it is so going to be worth it. Stay tuned for my next post on Kelkar museum

  19. The Tales of A Traveler

    Splendid interiors … I wonder if we had the actual Mahal standing in all glory today … what a sight it could be!!

    Thanks for sharing such hidden gems … I don’t remember reading this anywhere else..

  20. Stella the Travelerette

    That was an interesting story about the history behind the place. I guess people have been fighting with their in-laws since the beginning of time. I love the interior of the museum, especially the color. Thanks for sharing the photos!

    • Ami

      Thank you Stella for stopping by. This was a clear inter-caste debate that led to this whole drama. Nonetheless, must say that though things have changed but not completely. 🙂

  21. Agness of Fit Travelling

    This is definitely one of a kind museum, Ami! I’ve never seen any similar to this one. Is it open every day?

Would love to know what you think