On Sunday, 24th July 2005, my wife Amita, my sons: Aniruddh, Ajinkya and I set out to visit the Venkateshwara Temple at Ketkawale, Shrikshetra Narayanpur, Purandar fort and Saswad.

Saswad is a taluka town 33 km south of Pune at the foothills of the Fort Purandar, and 30 kms from the last stretch of the Dive Ghat.
According to Babasaheb Purandare, the great narrator of the grand Maratha saga, “every inch of Saswad soil has a chapter of history written on it!”

As we entered Saswad at about 10:40 we passed by the Sangameshwar temple on the confluence of the rivers, Karhe and Chambli.
The Sangameshwar temple has Yadav era sculptures.

Inside Saswad was this impressive wada fortress, not unlike a small Shaniwar Wada. It was locked. 

Locals sitting in the shade of the massive doorway said it belonged to Sardar Jai Purandare.

Some asking around revealed the following:
The Purandare Wada is Maharashtra's oldest standing structure.
Ambaji Purandare, a deewan of the Peshwas, Balaji Vishwanath and Bajirao I, built this imposing and grand residence (Wada), supposedly in 1710.
Intricate wooden carvings and wall frescos are said to still adorn this magnificent Wada.

Attached to it was an ancient Ganesh temple. 

North of the Ganesh Temple, along the eastern wall was the entrance to the Purandare Wada compound (behind our white Toyota Qualis).

The brickwork of the wada was reasonably intact. Some places even had ancient plaster intact. 

It gave us an insight into how the Shaniwar Wada (today a gutted ruin since 1828 AD) might have looked. 

The Purandare wada like the Shaniwar wada, had a smaller yet strongly built gatehouse.  The gatehouse had giant doors with sharp steel spikes and steel strips bolted with sharpened cone head steel bolts. The keep bastions flanking the gatehouse as well as most of the outer wall  had arrow-loops and machicolation chutes to pour hot liquid onto offending raiders.  In fact, it was easy to imagine that the Shaniwar Wada and Purandare Wada might have had the same designers and construction workers.

On the way back we took the Dive Ghat to Hadapsar and Pune. At the bottom of the Dive Ghat was a partly filled lake. A government board proclaimed it as Ahilyabai Holkar Talav. However the locals all know it as the Mastani lake. Legend has it that Mastani, the beautiful and brave consort of Bajirao Peshwa, one of India’s greatest generals, often frequented the place for a leisurely bath.

Other places in the Saswad area, I plan to visit:

  • the village of Sonori with its ancient temple and architectural heritage. It houses a palace in ruins, belonging to Bhivrao Yashvant Panse, chief-in-charge of the Maratha armory;

  • the Malhargad (Sonori fort) -- the last fort ever built [ca. 1775] by the Maratha Empire;

  • the memorial of Bhivrao Yashvant Panse, chief-in-charge of the Maratha armory;

  • Memorial of the heroic founder of the Peshwa clan, Balaji Vishwanath Bhat.
    Born in 1660, Bajirao’s father, Balaji Vishwanath worked initially in Chiplun and later, moved to the mainland.
    From 1699 to 1703, he was the Sarsubhedar at Pune.
    In 1713 he was named Peshwa and embarked upon a spate of missions to liberate many Maratha territories, including Pune, from the hold of the Nizam.
    In 1719, he moved to Saswad. After a pilgrimage to Kashi in his advancing years, the grand old man passed away on 2nd April 1720, aged sixty.

  • The memorial of Vir Baji Pasalkar, the earliest among the long list of martyrs who gave up their lives for the cause of Swarajya.
    He was the Vatandaar or ingeritor of the Mose valley adjoining the Varasgaon Dam.
    At the forefront in the battle for control of the Purandar, Khalad and Belsar belt, the seventy year old veteran died in battle at Saswad on 8th August 1648.

  • Samadhi of Sopandev. Born in 1277, Sant Sopandev, the brother of Sant Dnyaneshwar went into solitary confinement on 23rd December 1296, the day, Dnyaneshwar took Samadhi.The warkari community reveres him like a God. The memorial of Sopandev, on the banks of the Karhe, is said to be a great Saswad attraction;

  • The temple of Sangameshwar. with Yadav era sculptures;

  • Other nearby places, such as Jejuri, Pandeshwar, Morgaon, Bhuleshwar,
    and the forts of Vajragad, Rajgad and Torana.