Chhatardis – Ornamental Pavilion of Royals of Bhuj
Mahadev Naka in Bhuj, southwest of Hamrisar lake roots Mahadev temple. Near this temple lies beneath the Royal family of Kutch in peace. Widely known as Chatardi, it is the last resting place (funeral memorials) of the Royal family. Since the day I visited Bhuj, I had a deep urge to visit cenotaphs of Royals in Bhuj. They are widely known as ‘Chhatardis’ in the Kutchi language. I never had a deep yet tranquil feeling for Kutch until I visited this place after much of a hassle. Trust me, hassle it was. I visited on the last day of leaving Kutch. Chhatardis are a collection of Cenotaphs of royals that ruled Kutch. A total of 18 kings have ruled Kutch to date and from them, there are a total of 16 Cenotaphs that stand still and peaceful amidst the southwest bank of the Hamirsar lake that is a beauty on its own. You can catch a view of many ducks that acquire the tranquil lake along with joggers and walkers that cover the trail beside the lake. Chatardis are a mesmerizing piece of art and culture that is hard to digest. Royals Cenotaphs were built as the resting place (funeral memorials) of the Royals. However, a major part of the place was destroyed in the Earthquake of 2001. The remains lie scattered there showcasing the intensity of the Earthquake Bhuj faced.
The royal family and Chhatardi
Cenotaphs are right from Ravshri Khengarji I, the first king of Kutch till the last royal Maharavshri Madanshinhji Saheb. However, chhatardis of the last Royal and his father Maharavshri Vijayrajji’s cenotaphs are not constructed. The Chhatardi designed by Ramsang Malam for Maharao Lakhpatji is one of the finest examples of Chhatardi architecture. A picture wherein Maharao Lakhpatji (1752-1761) is shown riding a stallion and is surrounded by fifteen Satis. ( Sati system is prohibited and discontinued in India from now on). Sati means a system where the wife of the deceased was immolated willingly in the funeral pyre of their husband.
Kutch is so massively attacked by Earthquake now and then. So, the northern part of Chaatrdi was destroyed in the Earthquake of 1819 and the rest in year 2001. However, restoration work is going on by ASI (Archeological Survey on India).
On the last step of Maharao Lakhpatiji’s Chhartadi, there is a sculpture of a rabbit attacking a dog, depicting the folklore connected to the establishment of Bhuj city. Surrounding chhatardi, there are beautiful sculptures of Ragrani, ten coronations of Vishnu, angels, rishis and the nine planets, mal yudh, elephant fights, and many more.
When you watch the broken pieces scattered here and there you feel the plight of the beautiful sculpture and the reign of the kings that would have been wonderful. Certainly, the art and style that was practised early would have been amazing. This entire pavilion is so designed that, I was taken aback. We watched it from far, and you feel as if it was a kind of Palace that lies amidst heaven. You visit this place and the particles speak up. Many movies were shot here that turned out to be famous.
Visit this place and you would fall in love with the art Indians had running in their veins. Wonderful sculptor, it is.