Just round the corner of Shaniwar Wada, near the Ganpati gate of this fort, lies a Red colored building. The Lal Mahal or the Red palace, is a reconstructed palace – the original home of the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji. I found this accidentally, on the internet and while I was at Shaniwar Wada, decided to just walked over to see it. I imagined it to be huge. I mean, after all, it was the palace of the famed Chhatrapati, but well, it honestly, was not so.
And there is a reason for it. They say that the original palace had been razed to ground and there is little known about how it was and the exact location of the palace. It is estimated that the original was located in the same area as the current palace. However, what it looked like, what was the architecture like, how many rooms – that information has got buried under the sands of time. All that remains is hearsay and stories – bits of which have been put together in what you see today.
History of Lal Mahal
Originally constructed by Shivaji’s father – Shahaji Bhosale, the Lal Mahal was the abode of Jijabai and her famous son – Shivaji. History has it that he stayed here for several years. until he recaptured his first fort at Torna. Later, his first wife, Saibai is said to have resided here. However, since the place was subjected to several attacks, the palace fell and was never re-built.
Later, when the Peshwas decided to construct Shaniwar Wada, some bricks and stones of the original Lal Mahal were used in the construction of the Shaniwar Wada – and this has been found in the account books of the Peshwas. This was done – not to save costs, but as a mark of Good luck! A smaller place was constructed where the current Lal Mahal is and was used as a place to serve feasts to the Brahmins.
For those who have seen the latest Bollywood Blockbuster, you may recall Bajirao’s mom giving a feast to the Brahmins. My vivid imagination has it as they probably dined at Lal Mahal. 🙂
Lal Mahal Today
Lal Mahal today, is a small building that stands out owing to its red color but there isn’t much left to see here. I went in with a lot of curiosity but there was little that satiated it. As you enter the premises, you see some impressive looking statues of the Maratha guards – one on a horse like this one.
On entering the main courtyard, the first thing that I saw was on my left – a sculpture of Jijamata. Besides the same, there is a small model of the Raigad fort.
The one thing that kept drawing attention was a flight of stairs that led up to floors that were out of bounds. I wished to go up but the entry was barred. If you are wondering why that was the case, you need to chat with the guard, like I did. He basically, became my guide and shared his knowledge about the place. He informed me that the PMC was setting up a museum on the first floor and hence, the place was not yet opened. The main feature of this palace are its huge umbrella like structures on its roof. (as seen in the first picture of this post). There was nothing else, to see except the sculpture of Shivaji and his mother, with a golden plough. The same could be visited in the garden.
Thanking him, we headed for the statue, to take a selfie moment with Shivaji – the brave Maratha king, whose stories really inspire courage.
You can give this place a skip for it is not really ready for the visitors. However, maybe, if you are a curious cat like me, you can spare a few minutes when visiting Shaniwar Wada – to just pop in and say a Hi to the Maratha King. I will leave the choice to you. 🙂
- Lal Mahal is within walking distance from Shaniwar Wada in Pune, one of the mini metro cities of India. Pune can be accessed easily by road, rail and air from any city of India.
- You can reach Lal Mahal by using any of the local transport options – bus, cab or an auto.
- There are no entry fees to see this place.
- Photography is permitted here.
- Remember to take off your footwear and store is at the shoe rack near the entrance. You need to enter the palace barefoot.
My other posts on Pune:
- Visiting the Haunted Shaniwar Wada
- Shinde Chhatri: A Maratha’s Memorial in Pune
- Mastani Mahal at Kelkar Museum
- The Collection at Kelkar Museum
Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.
54 thoughts on “Lal Mahal – Shivaji’s Childhood Home in Pune”
Wow.., even I am surprised to see Lal Mahal, I mean I thought that it would have been a bit bigger then Red fort of Delhi, as these 2 houses were on war during their time… 🙁
I guess the original must have been huge. But since all records are lost, we have no way of knowing 🙁
Something offbeat, and nice details 🙂
It’s surely looks like a Fab place to visit , I have never been there and bookmarked this post of yours…Ami… Great Post, you hv penned it down so beautifully and amazing clicks….xo, Neha
Thanks Neha. Though it isn’t much, something is better than nothing.
Lovely not bigger to Red fort, but its look Nice..
I guess the original must have been 🙁 but there are no records of the same.
It’s funny how one can come across historical architecture at places you least expect. I love your pictures… so bright and beautiful.
Thank you Rajlakshmi. I love stumbling upon these small places. Amazing how much you get to know from them
I’ve never visited this place even though I’ve gone to Laxmi Road a million times!
Now you know what to look for the next time you are there.
Yes. Are you originally from Pune? I was actually born in Pune an my parents still live there so I have a strong affinity for all things Pune
I have spend considerable time here and hence, the affinity :D. Cheers
Nice to read about Lal Mahal. Beautiful pics.
Thank you Rupam
I am a curious cat and I’d sure peek in 😉 Love that red colour, so unusual!
🙂 Thanks Marta. You are right about the red color being so unusual.
Do many palaces and sites require you to remove your shoes? I’ve been to cathedrals and museums that require shoulder coverings, but never to remove shoes. Interesting…
Not really Rob. However, I did notice that the main courtyard of this re-constructed palace was being used as a place to pay respect to Shivaji’s mother. Possibly that maybe the reason why.
I think I’ve passed by a couple of times when I was still in Pune. A great post as usual with background history and present status.
Thank you Vishal
Living in a “small place”, I find sometimes that the small places hold the greatest surprises. And I find that people living in large places (like New York City) enjoy those small places, too, for their own reasons.
Thanks Alana. It sure does have a charm
As if being a palace wasn’t enough, painting it red has definitely made it stand out!
Well, the name demanded it. Lal means red 🙂
Ami brilliant as usal.. Your clicks are awesome. LAl mahal..marked for visit when I am in Pune next… Brillinat narration. Interesting link to the movie too…
Thank you :D. Hopefully the museum at Lal Mahal will be opened out then 😀
Bright photos… reminded me of my visit…
Interesting looking building, certainly stands out with the bright red. Its a pit little is known about the original building
Thanks. It sure is a pity.
Seems history will soon be forgotten when it comes to Shivaji…the old building has gone down anyway.
Anyway, nice details.
Thank Alok. Hopefully his forts will remain and remind people 🙂
Nice details Ami.Thanks for sharing.:)
Sriram & Krithiga
Thanks Sriram and Kritiga
The place looks lovely. I love how you share your travel tales/city visits Ami. Good one 🙂
Thank you Parul
Interesting story! Brilliant captures!
Great story… It is great to know about these lesser known places… 🙂
Thank you. It is fun discovering them too!
Loved reading this post. Shivaji is one of my favorite character, i will love to visit this place and to see whatever is left.
Thank you Jyotirmoy. It isn’t too far from Shaniwar Wada and hence, you can club it with the same. 🙂
Even though I have been to Shaniwar Wada I missed this completely!
It isn’t very grand and not so popular either. A mere shadow of what must have been. Maybe the next time you can check it out.
The more I read your posts about Pune, I just wonder what was I doing there for 2.5 years. Sob Sob.
Pune isn’t too far 🙂 Head there one of these days
Very intresting,eventhough it is small well kept.. Pics are more informative. The sculpts of Shivaji and his mother are very attractive.
Thank you Madhumalladi. They are planning a museum here. So in sometime, it will be a good place to visit.
What could be a better plan than to spend your weekend in the midst of mountains with amazing views? With a number of hill stations near Pune, this destination is becoming a hit destination for the people around the world. Home to the young crowd, Pune
Thank you Warren. Glad you feel this way
Nice place for visit. Good information about shivaji maharaj’s childhood.
Thank you. Glad you liked it