Pune has grown over the centuries under the reign and control of various kingdoms, cultures and empires. Every culture has left its own unique mark on the way the city has taken shape and today one can find history around every corner, quaintly hidden, ready to present itself to curious enthusiasts. Particularly in the older parts of the city, every street, every square, every alley, and every corner has a story to tell.
There are artistic wooden beams next to imposing stone walls, clock towers next to historic stairs, arched doorways next to grand bastions, and old lamps next to rustic windows. Right opposite the magnificent Shanivar Wada, almost hidden from the world passing by, is an extremely old flight of stairs. Surrounded by residential buildings and old structures, these stairs curve and disappear around a corner at a height.
It is said that these stairs once led to the western gate of an old fort which stood here. The fort goes by many names: Hissar Fort / Kille Hissar / Juna Kot / Pandharicha Kot.
According to historians and experts, the fort was built by Bada Arab, an Arab military commander. There are wide-ranging opinions as to the year in which this fortification was constructed. Some sources believe that the fort was built in the 13th century, while some claim it to be a 15th-century construction. However, experts agree that the fortification united the neighboring settlements in the area within a wall and led to the formation of “Kasabe Pune,” which is known as Kasba Peth today. Historians say Kasba Peth can be considered the oldest area of Pune since this is where the city was born.
It is said that the fort had three gates. The western gate was called “Konkan Darwaja” since it was customary during those times to name gateways facing west as such, as the Konkan region is situated to the west.
Eventually, the fort was demolished but some remnants and relics can be seen today, around the area. The stairs which can be seen today are said to have once led to this western gate (Konkan Darwaja). Today the stairs have been paved but historians say that the steps and their alignment remains pretty much the same as it was in those times. It is fascinating to imagine that hundreds of people must have walked along these stairs for over several centuries.