Located in the Wanwrie suburb of Pune, Shinde Chhatri cenotaph is often overlooked by tourists and, judging from the response I’m getting in the social media, by locals as well. However, it’s one of the most beautiful and exquisitely unique buildings you can lay your eyes upon when visiting Pune. The complex was built in honor of Mahadji Shinde, the prominent 18th century military commander in the Maratha Empire‘s army.
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The history of Shinde Chhatri
Mahadji Shinde (also spelled as Scindia) was a talented military leader who held the position of commander-in-chief in the time span of 20 years – from 1760 to 1780. Thanks to his brilliant tactics, the Marathas saw some of the greatest victories in their history, including the defeat of the British army in the first Anglo-Maratha war. The commander-in-chief was also extremely helpful in re-establishing the power of the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II in Delhi under Marathas’ terms.
In 1794, he died in his camp in Pune, where the Peshwas had a seat of power. His body was cremated near the Shiva temple, which was constructed by Mahadji Shinde himself. A beautiful memorial that marks the site of his cremation was built right next to the temple in 1965.
Shinde Chhatri: the architectural details
In Indian architecture, chhatri is an ornate dome-like pavilion, constructed over the place of an important person’s cremation (burial). The word chhatri literally translates as “umbrella”, so the memorials are meant to symbolically protect the ashes, just like an umbrella protects one from the elements. Constructed to shelter the ashes of the great warrior, Shinde Chhatri is nothing short of astounding. Architecturally, it combines two major styles – Rjasthani and Gothic Revival, resulting in an interesting fusion of patterns and influences. While the overall exterior bears an undeniable English influence, the Rajastani motifs can be easily spotted in details: stained glass windows, arches, intricate stonework. Add to it the typical Hindu architecture of the temple, and you’ll see what I mean when I call this complex unique.
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Shinde Chhatri memorial in Pune – a glorious Maratha’s memorial #india #travel #travelblog #architecture #indiapalette
The interior of Shinde Chhatri
With the abundance of green and orange stucco work, the memorial’s interior was a bit too colorful for my taste. Apart from the color scheme, the spacious hall, the beautiful ceiling, the ornate pillars and huge chandeliers were a pleasure to look at. The stained glass windows were open, but I could imagine them letting the light fall on the black-and-white marble floor in lovely hues. The upper floor was not accessible to visitors, and it’s a real pity – I would be glad to explore the beautiful viewing level.
Shinde Chhatri Travel Tips
~ To get to the complex, hire an auto rickshaw or a cab. It takes around 20 minutes to get to the Wanwrie suburb from the city center, but I enjoyed seeing a bit more of Pune on the way. The address is:
Nagar Wanwadi Nagar,
Fatima Nagar, Vikas Nagar,
Wanowri, Pune, Maharashtra 411001
~ The opening hours are from 9 am to 6 pm.
~ The entrance charge is negligible – Rs 5 for Indians and Rs 25 (around $0.4) for foreigners.
~ You’re expected to remove your shoes before entering the memorial.
~ It will take you up to one hour to explore the complex.