Standing amid the heart of the city, representing the glory and bravery of the Maratha Dynasty!
A symbol and pride and prudence!
A 13.5 feet tall statue of the great Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a symbol of unvaried dedication for the All India Shri Shivaji Memorial Society.
Numerous challenges and hurdles came in the way of the Memorial committee members right from the molding of the statue to its establishment. But the dedication and vision of the great Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj and their supporters made the foundation of the statue not just possible but also a success story.
We at the AISSMS, are making an attempt to revive history and honor the work of all the individual associated with it, right from its foundation. This article gives you is an insight into the happenings that took place from the Sculpting to the establishment of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, that today stands tall in the premises of the society.
Molding the History:
The molding of the statue was done by Nanasaheb Karmarkar. As Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj was confident that Indian Sculptors were capable of producing a statue of equivalent quality to European standards here in India itself. Initially he assigned the making of the statue to the renowned sculptor Rao Bahadur Mhatre and the Job of making four historical plaques was assigned to young and upcoming sculptor Nanasaheb Karmarkar.
Out of the four plaques, two plaques, one depicting the Coronation Ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and, the other depicting the battle of Wani-Dindori, were of size 9 ft x5.5 ft each, each weighing one ton, were to be made on either sides of the pedestal, and two plaques of 5.5 ftx3 ft out of which one was of Goddess Bhavani in marble would adorn the front and the other depicting the famous incidence of “Kalyan Khajina” was to be mounted on the rear of the pedestal. Karmarkar completed the making of all the panels, three months before the deadline given to him, while, Mhatre’s work had not progressed much. Due to the slow progress of Rao Bahadur Mhatre, and, happy with the job done by Nanasaheb Karmarkar, the entire job including the making of the statue was reassigned to Nanasaheb.
The making of the statue was so close to the heart of Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj that he had allotted space to Karmarkar within his palace ‘Shivtirth’ at Mumbai for erection of a studio to facilitate making of the plaques as well as the statue of Aai Saheb Maharaj. Furthermore, to make the statue truly magnificent Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj arranged for his prized Arabian horse ‘Shahnawaz’ to be brought in from Kolhapur to serve as a model for the horse in the statue! A revolving platform for the horse was made for better visuals of the horse from all sides and angles! The statue was to measure 13.5 ft in height 13ft in length and 3.5 ft in width. Mazgoan Docks foundry was discovered to be the only one in India equipped with a suitable crane with a capability to lift 15 tons or more along with the requisite experience of casting 15 to 20 tons.
Actualizing of the Vision:
The statue was finally cast on the night of June 01, 1928 at Mazgoan docks by a team of 175 workers pouring molten bronze simultaneously from two barrels containing 8 tons of liquid bronze each, hooked to cranes at two ends, to create a single piece casting, for the first time ever, in India! Almost 500 workers waited through the night to witness the successful completion of the casting.
The opening of the cast was an unbelievable sight for the on lookers!
After the success of molding the glorious statue the members of the community came across another big challenge I.e. the transporting of the statues from Mumbai to Pune for its erection.
An Iconic Journey:
The transporting of the statue was a major challenge due to its huge height and heavy weight. The height of the statue was 13.5 feet and the packing added another 1.5 ft to increasing the height to 15 ft. With this height it was impossible for the statue to pass through the tunnel at Khandala. Suggestions were made to transport the statue by ship to Ratnagiri and thereafter transport either by other means to Pune. But the target date of unveiling of the statue was slated for June 16, 1928 and to meet the target date via the sea route seemed impossible.
It was then decided to transport the statue via the railway route. Although the loading and transporting of the statue required a lot of extra care and adjustment by the railway authorities. Care was taken that the statue reaches its destination without any damages or hindrances.
The tunnel was inspected by the railway authorities and they found the tunnel was 9.5 ft in height at the lowest level. The height of the wagon from the track was 3 ft. Therefore, it was necessary to make a special trailor which would be only one foot from the track. It was decided not to pack the statue. If loaded slanting, the unpacked statue would be hanging out of the wagon and would pose an obstruction to traffic on both the sides.
Finally, with supervision of 50 people in three wagons, and the specially designed wagon towed by a railway engine, the statue started its historic journey from Mazgoan docks to Wadala station to Pune on June 10, 1928. The traffic from both the sides of the route was made to standstill to makes sure there were no hindrances at all. When the statue passed through the tunnel the head of the statue was barely three inches below the top of the tunnel! The Statue thus reached Bhamburda (Now Shivaji Nagar) on the night of June 10, 1928 greeted by the rhetoric echoes of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai!
The Ultimate Unveiling:
The Statue was unveiled by the then Governor of Bombay, Sir Leslie Wilson on June 16, 1928. The construction of the Memorial Hall, which today stands as the main building of the residential school and the society office was taken up next.
This historic event of the transportation and making of the large statue of the great Maratha warrior is a story of dedication, passion and perseverance shown by the All India Shri Shivaji Memorial Committee to preserve and accentuate the glory of the Maratha dynasty.
Today, the statue stands tall in the premises of the society in Shivajinagar, Pune and reminds the AISSMS members of the golden era.