Once the military stronghold and the brains behind the Maratha rule, Pune has now changed beyond recognition. Although the great Maratha samrajyas are more of a set of morals to live with now, Pune has lived, breathed, and seen it all.
With our very own proud cantonment, remembering the glory days can’t be helped. Shinde Chattri, a gorgeous memorial in Wanawadi pays homage to a renowned warrior and a proud Maratha- Mahadji Shinde. The commander-in-chief of the Maratha army, Mahadji Shinde served under the rule of the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780. Shinde Chattri marks the cremation of this Maratha warrior who was cremated here on February 12, 1794.
Before his death, the memorial ground just had a temple of Lord Shiva, which was built in 1794 by Mahadji Shinde himself. After his death in the same year, his last rites were performed here, bringing the story of Mahadji Shinde to a poetic end. In 1965, a Samadhi was constructed outside the temple in his memory Madhavrao Shinde. It is looked after by Shinde Devasthan Trust, Gwalior.
Discussing the actual architecture now, it is the most intricate and exquisite architecture which pays homage to ancient Rajasthani designs. Daulat Rao Sindhia, the adopted son of Mahadji Shinde, hailed from Gwalior and his trust (Shinde Devasthan) is responsible for the maintenance of this memorial. Beautiful carvings adorn the memorial, another highlight of this place.
On the steeple of the Shiva temple, intricate carvings and idols made out of yellow stone are visible. The sanctum sanctorum is constructed in black stone, and is visible the minute you arrive into the temple. The Chhatri (main hall) itself is decorated with carvings and paintings. A gallery consisting of paintings and photographs of the Shinde family is also present in this hall. The window panes of the gallery remind us of the English style of architecture.
As happens with a lot of memorials, Shinde Chhatri was abandoned and overlooked for many years, thus spoiling its beauty and historic importance. Harsh climatic conditions had ruined the physical state of the building, damaging its exterior. Thankfully, the memorial has been renovated now, and the restoration process of it is almost complete. Just like the Maratha empire and Pune’s history, Shinde Chhatri has stood the test of time and has thrived through the greatest ups and downs.