Home > FAM (Familiarization) Tour, General, Pune, Pune Architecture, Pune FAM, Pune History > Shinde Chhatri, Memorial of Mahadji Shinde (Scindia)

Shinde Chhatri, Memorial of Mahadji Shinde (Scindia)

Shinde Chhatri, Pune

Memorial of Mahadji Shinde (Scindia)

Also see: FAM Trip of Pune

Shinde Chhatri at Wanawadi in Pune is a memorial or cenotaph dedicated to the 18th century Maratha military leader Mahadji Shinde who served as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army under the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780.

Shinde Chhatri at Wanawadi in Pune

Shinde Chhatri (left) and Shiva Temple (right) at Wanawadi in Pune

Mahadaji Shinde (23 December 1730 – 12 February 1794) later known as Mahadji Scindia was a Maratha statesman and ruler of Ujjain in Central India. Mahadaji was instrumental in resurrecting Maratha power in North India after the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, and rose to become a trusted lieutenant of the Peshwa Madhavrao I.

William Dalrymple, The Anarchy
Scindia’s power had grown enormously since he left Delhi and headed south in 1772 to sort out affairs in the Deccan. He was now, along with Tipu, one of the two most powerful commanders of the country.

Mahadaji Shinde by James Wales and Scindia family crest

Left: Mahadaji Shinde by James Wales (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Right: Scindia family crest

It was under the trio of Peshwa Madhavrao I, Nana Fadnavis and Mahadaji Shinde the Maratha empire reached the pinnacle of glory took control of more than half of the Indian sub-continent.

William Dalrymple, The Anarchy
(Mahadaji Shinde was a) Maratha chieftain and statesman who was the most powerful Indian ruler in northern Hindustan for twenty yeaars, from the 1770s onwards…. he was shrewd politicaian who took Shah Alam under his wings from 1771 onwards and turned the Mughals into Maratha puppets.

Shinde Chhatri from entrance gate

Shinde Chhatri from entrance gate

Today the Shinde Chhetri is located in Wanawadi area of south Pune (Google map location). Just before his death Mahadaji Shinde came up with a Shiva Temple in the same location.

After his death on 12 Feb 1794 Mahadaji Shind was cremated in front of the temple. His ashes were kept safely in a memorial or a samadhi, which can still be seen in the complex of Shinde Chhatri.

The simple domed memorial still stands on the southern edge of the Shinde Chhatri complex.

Plans of constructing a pavilion in honour of Mahadaji Shind was taken up by Kadarji Rao Scindia. The foundation was laid in front of the existing Shiva Temple.

But constant civil wars among the Marathas prevented the construction to go beyond the plinth level.

It was only in 1910 that the construction was restarted by Madho Rao Scindia, grandson of Kadarji Rao Scindia, who came up with a magnificent two-storied flat-roofed memorial, executed by the fampus Bombay based architect Shapurjee N. Chandabhoy.

Samadhi housing the ashes of Mahadaji Shinde, Shinde Chhetri complex, Pune

Samadhi housing the ashes of Mahadaji Shinde, Shinde Chhetri complex, Pune

Incidentally, Madho Rao Scindia happens to be the grandfather of Madhav Rao Scindia, an Indian politician and a minister in the Government of India and a member of the Indian National Congress party.

Shinde Chhatri

Today the memorial and the Shiva temple stand in a large complex surrounded by high fort-like walls, with a gateway on the eastern side. A newly built Hanuman (Maruti) Temple stands in front of the temple facing the complex.

Exterior ornamentation of Shinde Chhatri and Shiva Temple

The star attraction is the two-storied chhatri. Incidentally, chhatri literally translates into an umbrella, but the chhatri of Mahadaji Shinde is flat-roofed and has no resemblance to an umbrella.

Decorative interiors of Shinde Chhatri

The pavilion styled chhatri is definitely the star attraction of the complex. Although the chhatri and the temple are adjoining to each other they are not connected.

Statue of Mahadaji Shinde

Statue of Mahadaji Shinde

The chhatri has a entrance on the eastern side while the temple is entered through a northern door. The temple door was locked but the interiors of the chhatri were accessible.

Since the construction period of the temple and the pavilion differ over a century they have a distinctive and constructing architectural style.

The Shiva Temple has a distinctive Khajuraho style architecture. The spire of the temple consisting of a centralspire flanked with multiple spires of diminishing size.

The exterior of the temples are decorated with floral and geometric design complete with jali screens allowing the passage of sunlight into the inner sanctum.

The Pavilion or Chhatri on the other hand is built in Anglo-Rajasthani style and exhibits a fine blending of two different cultures

Stained glass windows topped with recessed cusped arches intricately decorated with floral and geometric design are highlight of the two-storied chhatri. The star attractions are the statues of sages on the parapet.

Temple of Vaital Meenakshi

Temple of Vaital Meenakshi

There are a total of 27 (5 in the front, 6 each on the 2 sides, 6 on the back and 4 on the 4 corners) statues of sages, each in different postures.

The interiors are approached through a flight of stairs from the eastern side. The interiors are complete with decorative pillars supporting colourfull cusped arches.

On the wall hangs portraits of different members of the Scindia family. The far end of the structure is the seated statue of Mahadaji Shinde.

The upper story consists of a balcony wrapping around three sides of the inner walls. It is approachable by a spiral staircase. The spiral staircase is located outside the chhatri on the south-west corner. However it’s entrance is blocked preventing access to the upper floor.

Shinde Chhatri at Wanawadi in Pune

Shinde Chhatri (right) and Shiva Temple (left) at Wanawadi in Pune

The complex is well maintained and is managed by the Shinde Devasthan Trust, Gwalior. Apart from the Shiva Temple, Chhatri or memorial and Samadhi the complex houses a Vital Meenakshi Temple, south-western corner of the complex.

Necessary Information:

  • Entry fee: ₹ 10 for Indians and ₹ 100 for foreigners
  • Cameras are not allowed in the complex, however mobile photography is allowed inside the complex and also inside the chhatri. All photos in the blog are shot with mobile.

Note:

  • This tour was part of a Familiarization (FAM) tour organized by Indian Tourism, Mumbai office.
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