Located on the left bank of the Bhairoba stream in the Wanawadi district of Pune, Shinde Chhatri is a memorial dedicated to the 18th century military leader Mahadji Shinde who served as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army under the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780.
Up until 1794 only a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva existed here, which was built by Mahadji Shinde himself. When he died in that year he was cremated next to the temple. The impressive hall that is now annexed to the temple marks the spot where his last rites were performed.
Amazingly this is my 19th visit to Pune and yet I had never visited the Chhatri before. The architecture is an interesting blend of Anglo-Rajasthani, and is quite a surprise when you first enter the building.
It’s an open airy space despite a terrace on the 1st floor that surrounds the interior, I particularly liked the stained glass windows that gave a distinct Rajasthani feeling to the building.
At the far end of the hall is the annexed temple.
Clearly the building has in the past seen periods of prolonged neglect. Although stabilised now, much of the interior decoration has been lost, one can only imagine how it must have appeared when freshly painted. During those periods of neglect the roof had become damaged and water seeped into the hall, which damaged both the carvings and the paintings.
Thankfully the building has undergone some restoration, a process that is still on-going but the results of which are clearly visible now. There is also a tentative plan by the Shinde Devasthan Trust to create a small museum in the gallery of the hall after the restoration work is complete. The Scindia family from Gwalior, his descendants, are now the caretakers of the property.
Aside from the stunning interior, the biggest surprise was a modern gym located at the far end of the complex interior !! The music blasting out from this establishment shattering what would otherwise be a very peaceful experience. I don’t know if ASI has any responsibility for maintaining this site, it’s staggering that such things are allowed to happen in the first place really.
Modern Gym aside, Shinde Chhatri was a delightful surprise and well worth the effort of visiting if you’re ever in Pune.
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