Visitors to Shaniwar Wada, the erstwhile seat of the Peshwas and one of the most important historical monuments in the country, complain of the lack of proper management at the site. The 18th century fortified Wada is flooded with tourists on weekends — till 3.30 pm on Sunday, at least 3,500 tourists had visited the site. On weekdays, the number comes down to 2,000.
Shaniwar Wada has a free parking area, which is often overflowing. There are no separate spaces for two-wheelers and four-wheelers, and there is no one to look after the parking arrangements. This leads to a chaos and traffic jam just outside the fort.
Visitors and officials said there are always long queues at the ticket counter, which cause chaos with no one to manage the crowd.
But, the biggest problem for visitors, is the absence of a professional guide employed at Shaniwar Wada to guide tourists. The entrance of the fort has a metal plate describing its history, and similar plates are placed at spots all over the site. But the information given in them is vague, according to most tourists. “We are completely confused. No one here knows anything about the place. There are boards describing certain things, but they don’t give any idea of the place,” said one of the visitors.
A couple that was visiting the fort on Sunday, expressed frustration about the incomplete information given in the plates. “The information plate says at least 100 dancers used to dance here. But where is ‘here’ exactly? The spot where the plate is placed can’t accommodate 100 dancers for sure,” said one of them, searching for the places described on the plates.
Amika Limbu, a visitor from Manipur, said she was impressed by the presence of the fort in the heart of the city. But she was disappointed as there was no one to guide her or give insights on who built the fort, its significance and other details. “It seems the local authorities have failed to appoint guides here… they seem to be trying to save money by not employing guides, which is a wrong practice,” she said. Amika also pointed out that the fort was in a state of neglect. “There seems to be a lack of effort in maintaining this magnificent fort,” she added.
In a corner of the site, there is a shed with the words ‘Archaeological Survey of India’ written on it. The shed is supposed to be a washroom, but it was locked on Sunday. Dustbins are not placed where required, so people throw garbage anywhere.
The person manning the ticket counter said the fort does not have regular guides. “All our efforts are spent in making people form a proper queue and ensuring that it keeps moving ahead,” he said.
An entry fee of Rs 25 is taken from everyone above 14 years of age to enter Shaniwar Wada.