Here lies the last of the great Maratha leader with a true nationalistic vision, who shook the map of entire India, fighting many battles, was a great devotee, a great philanthropist, and a poet. Loved by his fellow riders and greatly feared by his enemies at the same time.
Under the horse steps of Bajirao Peshwa, India was again dreaming of self-rule. Maratha saffron flags were marking the territories from Calicut in southern India to Attock in present Pakistan, flattering with strength and pride.
‘Two pearls fell, twenty-seven gold coins lost and loss of rupees are uncountable’. This was the cipher received after the horrendous defeat of Marathas in Panipat. Marathas, who were defending Delhi throne, from foreign Invasion of Ahmedshaha Abdali had received an empire ending blow, were on the verge of extinction.
Mahadaji Shinde boosted Maratha moral to regain the lost supremacy over the political control of India which was initially lost after the battle of Panipat.
He not only gave the confidence back to Marathas, but actually recovered all the land we lost to the Invaders, and then some more, in a short time and regained the lost glory of the empire.
He freed holy cities like Mathura and Brindavan, which were under the hammers of Islamic invaders and regained their status as holy cities, once again.
The influence of Shinde (affectionately called Patil Bava) on Delhi throne was so much, that King of Iran used to correspond with Mahadaji instead of Mughal king Shah Alam second. But Shinde Bawa never took advantage of this trust the Delhi throne kept in him. Even though he was the kingmaker of Delhi sultanate, he always treated the King with the utmost respect, compassion, and honor. During his time, Ghulam Kadir attacked Delhi, looted, raped, mutilated, and abducted helpless common citizens of Delhi. Mad dog Kadir captured the king, sat on his chest and he made the king blind by removing his eyeballs. As though this was not enough, he harassed and humiliated the royal family with unspeakable deeds. Mahadaji avenged the king by capturing Kadir. First, Ghulam lost his fingers, then his tongue, and then, Mahadaji paraded him on donkey right on the streets of Mathura as the revenge of humiliating the Badshah of India. Then Mahadaji blinded him, and in the end, he cut the Ghulam Kadir in pieces and sent these pieces to the King to Delhi. This would have been the most ferocious gift Badshaha had ever received in his life. Shaha Alam was eternally grateful to the great Maratha for this. Shehenshaha himself wrote poems in the honor of Mahadaji, praising him.
There was a defying difference between the Indian military systems and the Anglo-French military. Mahadaji appointed experienced foreign commanders like De Boigne under his army to create disciplined, agile, easy to command artillery platoons. Shinde’s artillery created an unstoppable Juggernaut of impossible-looking victories on the plains of North India. Lately, Shinde’s army was called as Fighting Machine in India and abroad.
Gadh mein gadh, Baki sab gadhiya:
Rajputs of Chitodh have a rightful pride in their Homeland. Chitodh is the largest fort in India, with a legendary history, where, for innumerous times, Rajputs have defended the fort by sacrificing literally thousands of brave lives. Alauddin Khilji took eight months to take the fort while Akbar took five months to siege it. Shinde Patil Bawa with his brilliant tactics, diplomacy, and strategies of Artillery, managed to conquer the unconquerable fortress in two weeks. Such was the terror of Shinde Bawa.
Knowing this Maratha might, Britts never dared to cross paths with him beyond Yamuna River, and they got constrained in the Bengal region for the time being. He seized and postponed the complete conquest of India by East India Company for at least thirty years. They preferred to have peace with Patil Bava as they were decisively defeated by Marathas at the Talegaon battle.
Just to honor the will of Patil Bawa, Mughal king released the notices in his empire, banning cow slaughter This seems unbelievable in this current age of pseudo-secularism, extreme liberalism, and hyper islamophilism, but these Farmans or notices actually are available to read.
Shinde Chhatri is located in Pune, near the currently busy Wanowri area. The building is surrounded by a tall rock wall with a tall entrance gate giving you the feeling of a fort. After you pay the nominal entree fee, you can enter the main building in the square courtyard, surrounded by two smaller size shrines and few rooms adjacent to the compound wall. The main building is an example of mixed architecture with both Maratha and Rajasthani styles. Mahadaji Shinde, or Patil Bawa as we say it with love, was cremated here on 12th February 1794. After that, his successor started the construction of this building in his honorable memory. The small temple was constructed remembering Patil Bawa by his adopted son Daulatrao Shinde and then due to political turmoil, civil wars, and invasions, it was never completed.
Till recently, in Madahvrao Scindia, a direct descendant of the Shinde dynasty completed the building post-independence.
As you enter through the Stony gateway, you face the steps taking you inside the off-white stoned Shinde memorial. The memorial is dedicated to Lord Mahadev, having one large size principal Shikhara (tower), and many smaller size Shikharas surrounding it. Shiny brass turrets on top of each tower reflect sunlight into your eyes and make you blind. The temple is built on a platform made up of black stones, while the rest of the temple is built with yellow stone, reminding you of the palaces from Rajasthan. Temple is attached to a two-floored hall with huge entrance and huge windows opening outside. These windows are decorated with bright colored semi-transparent glass. Inside pillars are colored with off white and red Rajasthani designs. Square shaped hall adjacent to the shrine was built later, and you can see the difference in architectural style and with the building material. The hall is made up of off white stones while the main Mahadev shrine is built with Black. Portraits of Shinde family, starting from Ranoji, till current hair Jyotiraditya Schindhia can be seen on walls. Off white stone, colorful pillars, black and white marble floor, and roof with a beautiful chandelier give a royal but very calm, temple-like vibe.
Across the hall, there is a black stoned Mahadev shrine with three arches, as you slide forward on the cold, smooth marble floor. These three arches are held aloof by two beautifully carved pillars. You walk further, you reach to the marble Nandi. After you pay the respects to Nandi, you will observe the border design of the sanctum. Veer and Bhadra are standing and guarding the shrine while Saraswati is on top of the border. There are two beautifully carved Kirti Mukhas on the stepping stone to enter the Sanctorum.
As you first enter through the stone-cold narrow entrance, you meet the eyes with Patil Bawa. Brilliantly carved life-size idol, carved out of black stone, of Mahadaji Shinde sits there, guarding the Mahadev. He is wearing Shinde style hat, straight nose, big mustache framing his face, and eyes of steely determination. His right hand is on his knee, holding the sword and the other is holding a dagger. He seems very calm, yet ready. His battle harden shield lies beside him on his left. In from of him, sits Mahadev, on the ground. Four walls of the sanctum are decorated with simple canopies but don’t be in a hurry to exit the sanctum yet. Look upwards, and you will be viewing perhaps the most beautiful roof in the entire Pune area. It’s a dome-shaped roof with a golden square border. Corners of the squares have been painted with the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ram going after the golden Deer while Ravana tries to abduct Sita, Krishna dancing on five-headed Kalia snake, Krishna playing his hypnotically beautiful flute and many more. The rest of the roof is just a dark blue night sky with white clouds passing by alongside the moon. One devotee was chanting the Omkara, in front of Mahadev in Padmasana with his eyes closed. His voice was filling that old, dark structure feeling like echoing. Decide to give him some space with his lord, I bow my head before my lord Shindebawa, and with his permission, I left the building to join my family, who was waiting patiently for me, outside.
As I looked back while exiting, I felt bad for Shinde Bawa, the country he loved so much, and the values he adored so much. The streets were buzzing with the crowd, but I could hardly see people coming inside this memorial of the great patriot. The structure is set in oblivion and seemed to be neglected. While these days, Indian youth is dying to go to Europe to work in multi Nationals, he employed many Europeans like De Boigne under his service, started truly ‘Make in India’ weapon manufacturing plants and established disciplined troops of thousands, under his command. These days, Shaniwar Wada seems to be getting the attention due to the recent Bajirao Mastani movie (packed with loads of historical contradictions and inaccuracies), this structure still waits patiently, for the true glory and curious visitors it deserves, not for the brilliant yet modest architecture it has, but for the Man it remembers…
मुख्तरुलमुल्क वकीले मुतलक, उमदतुलमरा फर्जंद अलिजाह, महाराजाधिराज श्रीनाथ माधवराव सिंदीया बहादूर मन्सूरजमान की जय !!