Eight sculptures of King Shivaji to be installed at the foothills of Shivneri Fort

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Indian Express: The birth and formative years of warrior king Shivaji are all set to come alive in sculptures at Shivneri Fort, the birthplace of the 17th century Maratha ruler.

Veteran sculptor Dinkar Thopte is the chief architect of the project coming up at the foothills of the fort in Junnar taluka of Pune district, around 105 kilometre from Pune city.

The project funded by the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Maharashtra government is being hailed as a one-of-its-kind artwork based on the life of the Maratha ruler, and would have eight high-relief sculptures made of fibreglass, portraying the birth and childhood of Shivaji and prominent personalities in his life, including his mother Jijamata, renowned warriors in his army like Tanaji Malusure and Bahirji Naik and the king’s childhood friend Yesaji Kank.

“Each sculpture, around 12 feet by 8 feet, depicts personalities associated with the early life of Shivaji. These sculptures are arranged in a manner that they narrate events in the early life of the king,” Thopte told Newsline.

The 72-year-old sculptor is busy giving finishing touches to the magnificent statues of Shivaji and his mother Jijamata, key features of the project.

“The statue of Jijamata is around 15 feet tall, and that of Shivaji as a child is eight feet tall. These are also made of fibreglass and would placed at the centre with eight high-relief sculptures around them,” said Thopte, who has to his credit several sculpting projects that have won him national and international recognition.

Thopte has a team of more than two dozen sculptors working on the project, including Rajesh Keni and Sachin Waikar, both alumni of Sir J J Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai.

“Like every Maharashtrian, I have very high regard and reverence for Shivaji and his mother Jijamata. I feel fortunate to be part of the project, which will find its place at Shiveneri Fort. My little contribution to the project is nothing but paying respect to the two most inspiring characters in Maratha history, Shivaji and Jijamata,” Thopte said.

PWD executive engineer (Pune division) B N Bahir said the project has a financial outlay of Rs 25 lakh and the statues would be placed inside a public garden, located at the foothills of Shivneri Fort.

“Preparations are in full swing. The project is expected to be inaugurated in February coinciding with the month Shivaji Maharaj was born,” he said.

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