Shinde Chhatri: A Maratha’s memorial in Pune

posted in: Asia, Cities, Heritage, India, Maharashtra | 50

Pune holds a special place in my memories and this visit of mine was about re-discovering Pune. It had been years since I had last visited the heritage destinations and the cultural hot-spots of Pune. And sure enough, not only had the older attractions become even better but I found some newer and unexplored ones too. Shinde Chhatri fell into the latter list, something that I had not seen or even heard of before. Having chanced upon it online, I knew that I had to visit this place and thankfully, did manage to. Having done so, I would definitely suggest adding it to one of the things to see in Pune.

History of Shinde Chhatri

Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Shinde Chhatri, Pune

Shinde Chhatri is a cenotaph built for Mahadji Shinde, the commander-in-chief of the Peshwas. Chhatri literally means “umbrella”  and in this case, the significance of a shelter for the ashes of the commander. Mahadji Shinde hailed from Kankerkhad, near Satara in Maharashtra. His father too, was a general to Chhatrapati Shahu and the famed Peshwa or prime minister – Baji Rao I. Mahadji Shinde was quite instrumental in restoring the lost power of Marathas. He also, helped Shah Alam II to re-establish the Mughals and served as his Wazir for sometime.

Samadhi of Mahadji Shinde, Pune
Samadhi of Mahadji Shinde, Pune

Mahadji Shinde initially, build the Shiva Temple in the premises. Unfortunately, he took ill during the same year and passed away. His last rites were performed here. His ashes were kept safely in a memorial or a samadhi and these can be seen in the while colored structure opposite the main Chhatri. His descendant Madhavrao Scindia then, helped construct the rest of the building. In case you are wondering if it is the same Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior, let me clarify that it is . When asked how, I was told that the British mis-pronounced Shinde and it became Scindia. Not sure if that is a true story . 😛

Side View of the Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Side View of the Shinde Chhatri, Pune

Coming back to the history, this 18th century building was neglected and abandoned for quite sometime, its significance lost till the Sindhia Trust re-discovered it and renovated it to its present state. The renovation as I understand, is still underway and there are plans of converting it to a museum.

The interiors of Shinde Chhatri

As soon as you enter the complex, the gorgeous three-storied building has you so captivated that you start wondering whether you want to first go inside or just tour around the building. I know that I had that dilemma.

I decided to first go in and check out the interiors. And gosh, they were just mind-blowing. The upper floors, the ceilings and the ornate pillars had me captivated. Unfortunately, I cannot treat you to many pictures as I was told that photography is not permitted within the building. Nonetheless, you can get a few glimpses of the interiors through some of these pictures that I took from the outside.

Glimpse of the interiors of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Glimpse of the interiors of Shinde Chhatri, Pune


Interiors of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Interiors of Shinde Chhatri, Pune

The photographs and paintings of the Shinde dynasty are lined up along the walls. The inner sanctum has a statue of Mahadji Shinde. Along the walls, you will even see some gorgeous paintings. The bright and vibrant colors of the paintings really brighten up the high ceiling interiors of the Chhatri. Adding to the charm are the gorgeous chandeliers. While I have captured them in my memory, I have only words to share the glory of this building with you.

The architecture and rest of Shinde Chhatri

View from the other side, Shinde Chhatri, Pune
View from the other side, Shinde Chhatri, Pune

They say that the Shinde Chhatri is a perfect example of how a building should be built as per Vaastu. However, what got me excited was spotting the perfect blend of European and Rajasthani designs. The spiral staircase and the stained glass windows reminded me of the European palaces and cathedrals.

Spiral staircase of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Spiral staircase of Shinde Chhatri, Pune

The stained glass windows were quite unique and what made them so, were the lovely Rajasthani patterns over them.

Stained Glass windows of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Stained Glass windows of Shinde Chhatri, Pune

The temple is another matter all together. Constructed in black stone, the intricate carvings on it reminded me of the Ranakpur temple – with the spires rising up high, in the form of an ancient aircraft or vimana. The huge spire on the top has a golden pot or Kalash on it. When you see the whole structure in entirety, you will see many smaller spires around the main one, each with golden pots glittering on it.

The temple at Shinde Chhatri, Pune
The temple at Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Temple at Shinde Chhatri
Temple at Shinde Chhatri

I could not visit the temple as it was closed when I was there. And all I could do is capture it from the outside.

Idols along the roof of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Idols along the roof of Shinde Chhatri, Pune

The other lovely feature of Shinde Chhatri were the idols of the various saints that were erected on the roof. Each one had a different pose. Take a look.

Idols atop the roof of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Idols atop the roof of Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Idol atop Shinde Chhatri, Pune
Idol atop Shinde Chhatri, Pune

Besides the temple, Samadhi and Chhatri, the complex also, has a Vittala temple in its premises. In addition, facing the Chhatri on the outside is a Shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman.

The one place that I would have loved to explore were the upper floors – my typical closed-door curiosity. However, they remained out-of-bounds and regretfully, I had to call it a day and head back home. If ever I get a chance, I would love to go back here just to explore these floors and its amazing designs. Maybe, someday when it is opened out to us mortals, I will! In the meanwhile, you tell me what you think of this small but magnificent heritage attraction of Pune .

Shinde Chhatri

Getting to Shinde Chhatri

  • Pune is easily accessible by air, road or railway from any city in India. It even has some international flights landing directly in the city.
  • Shinde Chhatri is in Wanwadi and can be reached using any of the local transport options – bus, cab or autos. It is also, covered by the local sightseeing tours – Pune Darshan.

Travel Tips:

  • Pune is a well-developed cosmopolitan city and has plenty of options for a stay. The ideal time to visit Pune is between September to February, when the temperatures are pleasant. It does get a little chilly between November to January, that you may require light woolens.
  • There is a minor entrance charge at the Shinde Chhatri. It is INR 5 for Indians and INR 25 for foreigners.
  • Photography is permitted only from the outside. Insides are not allowed.
  • One needs to remove their footwear when entering the Chhatri.
  • Keep aside 30-45 minutes for this visit.





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50 Responses

  1. Wow mummy.
    Well written.

  2. The architecture is so different and unique! They seem to be in good condition too. Great pics Ami.
    You have put your vacation to good use. 🙂

  3. Wonderful pictures. There are so many architectural wonders in our country!

    • Thank you. There sure are some amazing wonders in our country… Wish we could give them better recognition

  4. Amazing

  5. mridulad

    It looks amazing through your lens. I missed it on my Punetrip but I am marking it for future exploration whenever I am in Pune!

  6. That’s such a beautiful architecture and I’m sure it looks even more magnificent in real. Thank you for sharing. If I go to Pune, this will be on my list.

    • Thank you Parul. It isn’t too far out in the city and hence definitely doable

  7. Beautiful pictures and such a detailed account 🙂 Pinning it to my board

  8. Beautiful shots, Detailed information about the places Ami.Thanks for sharing.:)

    Sriram & Krithiga

  9. Very nice pictures. Hope to visit some day, when in Pune.

  10. Wow Ami you have explored this place so very well. Spellbound architecture !

  11. Ooh waow! I was in Pune for two months but I haven’t heard about it! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Thank you for dropping by. Not many know of it and if you get an opportunity again, you must visit it.

  12. What a fascinating mix of architectural styles! Thanks for sharing this!

  13. vishvarsha

    I didn’t even know about this place. Have been to Pune 5-6 times and never heard of this place, guess this time I got a new destination in town 😀
    Loved your picture Ami. 🙂

    • Thank you. Now you know where to head to the next time you are there. 😀

  14. The architecture is so different and unique. Wonderful pictures.
    Thanks for sharing Ami 🙂

  15. Beautiful pictures and thank you for share this information about this place….

  16. 2traveldads

    This is truly and unusual site among the many places you’ve shared. I cannot recall the iron work and stained glass being in any other palaces, or at least to the degree of this.

    • Thank you Rob. I found the stained glass in plenty of palaces in Rajasthan but none of the cenotaphs really had this. I found it quite unusual for a cenotaph. I completely agree with you on its uniqueness. 🙂

  17. The temple architecture is so detailed and ornated, this is pure art! Can’t imagine the hours spent to achieve this!

  18. Mind blown….awesome place nicely captured.

  19. I have several friends who travel to Pune with work, but I had no idea there was such beautiful architecture to admire there! I shall pass on your post to them.

    • Thanks Marianne. Pune has its bits of history too, it sure is an amazing place to explore

  20. Your stories always bring India to life for me -and so full of really helpful practical tips for visiting

  21. This is stunning and you are right: some details remind of Europe but the overall complex really doesn’t and the juxtaposition is so interesting! Your photos are beautiful, even without the interior you give a great sense for the place

  22. Oh, I never knew about this monument of Pune. Bookmarked for next Pune visit.

  23. This is so beautiful and I really love the details of the architecture. I’m curious how Shinde is pronounced if the legend is that the British mispronounced it so Scindia.

    • Thanks Ann. I am guessing the accent difference is what caused the confusion 😉

  24. The architecture is fascinating. And it looks like it isn’t very crowded either, which is awesome. Does it ever get crowded there or is it kind of like a hidden gem?

    • Not many know about this. It was obscure for quite sometime. Not sure if it gets any crowd

  25. I too liked the stain glass windows and spiral staircase. The whole building is magnificent, and as always I love hearing about the history surrounding it.

Would love to know what you think