The Nana Phadnavis Wada is a large six-quadrangled, perimeter-protected wada. This construction was completed circa. 1780.
Bhavan Rao Trymbak Pant-Pratinidhi of Aundh and Raghunath Ghanshyam Mantri (Satara) bestowed the village of Menavali to Nana Phadnavis in December 1768.
Nana Phadnavis settled the village and built himself the Wada with the ghat on the river Krishna and the two temples, one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and another to Meneshwar (मेणेश्वर) Lord Shiva.
Originally, simple stone steps descending into a river, ghats evolved into an elaborate arrangement of terraces with separate areas for different activities, such as bathing, washing, filling water and performing religious rites. Temples were traditionally built on ghats.
The Peshwa-era saw architectural combinations of a Wada-type residence, a Ghat on a water-body and a Temple.
The Nana Phadnavis wada on the bank of the river Krishna at Menavali, is one of the very rare places where such a combination is preserved intact.
Nana, being the Peshwas’ “Phadnavis” transcribed and maintained their documents of accounts and administrative letters in the ancient “Modi” script. These documents, known as the famous “Menavli Daptar” were preserved in this Wada at Menavali.
After Nana Phadnavis died in 1800, the Peshwa Bajirao-II, confiscated the Wada.
The British General Wellesley (brother of Lord Wellesley), Duke of Wellington returned the property to the Nana’s wife Jeeubai on 25th March, 1804.
After her death, Sir Bartle Frere (governor of Bombay) handed over the property to Nana’s descendants. The Nana Phadnavis Wada today remains with his descendants. Having split the major part of his properties between themselves, the Wada is still owned jointly by them all.
There is a dark musty, narrow, steep staircase concealed in the metre-thick wall to the floor above. The staircase was at once secret and easily secured, admitting only one person at a time into Nana Phadnavis’s darbar hall. Nana Phadnavis’s reception “darbar” hall has an attached bedroom with a teakwood bedstead. The teakwood bedstead is an intricately carved four-poster. The floor is swept with clay and cowdung.
Wadas are systems of open courtyards of increasing security. Nana’s corridors on the upper floor are lined with teak-wood lattice work. A concealed escape stairway in the wall leads out of the Wada. Descending the stone steps leads to the ghat on the river Krishna.
The bell house of the Meneshwar temple houses a six hundred and fifty kilogram bell. This bell was captured by Bajirao-1’s brother Chimaji Appa, from a cathedral in the Portuguese fort at Bassein. Dated 1707, the five-alloy bell bears a bas-relief of Mary carrying the infant Jesus Christ cast into it.
An ancient tree, with a massive coniform trunk has a platform constructed around it as old as the Wada itself. This tree featured in the Bollywood movie Swades. In the movie, the village elders hold a Panchayat on the stone platform around this tree.
Several Bollywood movies have been shot, using the wada as an exotic location, notably, Yudh (Jackie Shroff/Tina Munim), Mrutyudand (Madhuri Dixit), Goonj Uthi Shahnai, Jis Desh Me Ganga Rahata Hai (Govinda), Ganga-jal (Ajay Devgan), Sarja (Ajinkya Deo) and Swades (Shahrukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi).