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