When The Past And Present Collide – A Marriage Of Contemporary Fashion And History
I distinctly remember walking through the big iron gates, hinged to a romantic arch which lead to the magnificent structure called ‘Shinde Ki Chhatri’ located in a quaint cozy corner of Wanowari in Pune. I have lived in Wanowari for over 17 years and only walked through these beautiful gates two years ago and walking through those gates for the first time I was full of regret about the fact that it took me so long to experience a piece of history and heritage right in my backyard. It was right at that moment that my appreciation for and interest in history and architecture was piqued and a concept was born in my head. I wanted to find ways to marry history, heritage, architecture and fashion in a fun interesting manner that was also informative and educational, hence this series.
The Location : Shinde Chhatri Pune
Shinde Ki Chhatri (hall) is a breathtaking three floor structure built over 200 years ago, built as a memorial dedicated to the 18th century military leader Mahadji Shinde (also spelled as Mahadji Scindia or Mahadaji Scindia) who served as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army under the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780. Mahadji Shinde was responsible for resurrecting Maratha rule in the North after the battle of Panipath, and later for driving the attacking British forces into exhaustion and defeat, making Mahadji Schinde one of the most powerful men of his time. When you read about Mahadji Shinde, you are struck by not just his bravery and valor but also the agility of his mind, his cunning ways, his undying determination, his ability to dream big dreams and perseverance to see them come through. He was the son of a cavalry leader from the Maratha army who from the age of 10 accompanies his father and brothers as they travelled across the country creating a bigger Maratha Empire. Mahadji Shinde watched and learned, his hard work, valour and skills saw him rise through the ranks to become the great Maratha Warrior who is still remembered to this day.
He believed in innovation, education and spirituality, he was literate in Persian and Sanskrit, he set up many schools for the study of Sanskrit, he also resurrected many temples which had been destroyed by war. His devotion to his spiritual guru and undying faith are said to be the key to his calm composure and clear headed thinking even amidst the intense turmoil of his time. The Shinde Ki Chattri hence seems to be a fitting tribute to a man of this stature – it is a calm oasis in the midst of the city din, a place where time seems to stand still, a place of immense beauty which exudes a sense of calm and quiet. It is a stunning seamless marriage of Anglo – Rajasthani construction and culture, with coloured stain glass windows and intricately carved walls. The walls and pillars are carved out of yellow stone while the base is an intense black stone, the juxtaposition of two ends of the spectrum at one site creates a surprisingly mesmerizing effect. Madhaji Shinde died of typhoid in Feb 1794 at his camp in Wanowari Pune, which also happens to be the year when he added a Shiv temple to the Shinde Chattri. He was cremated in the same compound and later, in 1965, a samadhi was constructed outside the Shiv temple right at the spot of the cremation.
A few things that stood out to me were – the place has been beautifully maintained, it seems untouched by time and all the chaos surrounding it. Unlike most old heritage sites I have been to, here, you will not find couples cuddling in dingy corners and hence you can avoid all embarrassing questions your kids might ask. The people around are lovely and seem happy to have you around. There is a statue of the great Maratha warrior, carved out of black stone, the detail and workmanship is of such high quality that if you look at the statue long enough, you would actually think that he will stand up and walk to you any second.
Its a beautiful place to enjoy some solitude and solace, it is also a beautiful place for art and architecture, unfortunately, photography inside the premise has very recently been banned, due to some distasteful and irresponsible pictures having been shot there. All the more reason to appreciate and feel gratitude for the fact that I have been lucky enough to have some lovely pictures at the Shinde Ki Chhatri. If you are ever in Pune do make sure you visit this tiny little carefully preserved piece of history tucked away in Wanowari.
The Fashion : The Traditional Saree (Sari)
In keeping with the sanctity of the location, a beautiful temple and a tribute to a heroic warrior, I chose to keep the attire simple, traditional and respectful. Wearing my mother very vintage saree in bright colours which contrast the dreamy pastel colours of the Shinde Chhatri.