July 4, 2022

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Narayan Darwaja in Pune, India

Shaniwar Wada, the historical palace and fortress in the center of Pune, has five darwajas, or gates: Delhi Darwaja, Mastani Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja, and Narayan Darwaja.

Narayan Darwaja lies on the southern wall and was once called Jambhul Darwaza, after the Jambhul, or Malabar plum tree that was planted near it. The gate got its second name “Narayan Darwaja” because of an assassination.

Narayanrao Peshwa was the 10th Peshwa (Prime Minister) of the Maratha Empire. His uncle Raghunathrao, who wanted to become the Peshwa himself, plotted against his nephew. On August 30, 1773, a group of assassins entered the palace. The legend goes that Anandibai, the wife of Raghunathrao, changed the contents of the letter given to the assassins, from “Hold Narayanrao” to “Kill Narayanrao.”

In an attempt to save himself, Narayanrao ran to his uncle yelling, “Uncle! Save me!” without the knowledge that his uncle and aunt had arranged for the assassins. The assassins killed Narayanrao in the presence of his uncle. Later, his body was removed from the fort for cremation through Jambhul Darwaja. After this tragic incident, the gate was often called Narayan Darwaja (Narayan’s Gate).

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