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Saturday, 15 December 2018

Forts in Maharashtra best places for Trekking

On land and ocean, the strength of stone stands mighty over years. The Maratha heartland is fortified by over 350 forts – the largest number in any state in India. Here, the crimson-edged sword of the Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s gleams with the pride of a victorious warrior.  Maharashtra state is dotted with a number of magnificent forts, nested in the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri Mountain range. The magnificent and picturesque hill forts of Maharashtra includes Harishchandragad Fort, Raigad Fort,Nimgiri fort, Lingana fort, Karnala Fort, Prabalgad Fort and Pratapgad Fort. Chhatrapati Shivaji had 300 forts including the 5 sea forts, known for its picturesque surroundings and pleasant climate, which are known as one of the best places for Trekking in Maharashtra.


On land and ocean, the strength of stone stands mighty over years. The Maratha heartland is fortified by over 350 forts – the largest number in any state in India. Here, the crimson-edged sword of the Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s gleams with the pride of a victorious warrior.
Maharashtra state is dotted with a number of magnificent forts, nested in the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri Mountain range. The magnificent and picturesque hill forts of Maharashtra includes Harishchandragad Fort, Raigad Fort,Nimgiri fort, Lingana fort, Karnala Fort, Prabalgad Fort and Pratapgad Fort. Chhatrapati Shivaji had 300 forts including the 5 sea forts, known for its picturesque surroundings and pleasant climate, which are known as one of the best places for Trekking in Maharashtra.






Raigad was the capital of the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Britishers named it ‘Gibralter of the East’ as the well-fortified structure atop a hill that had repeatedly defied attackers. Shivaji built the fort in the 14th century. Chit Darwaja, also known as Jit Darwaja is at the foothills near village Pachad.  Khoob Ladha Buruj is a strategically located tower, from where any attacker from both the side could be defended. Maha Darwaja is at a distance of nearly a mile ahead after a difficult climb. This 350 years-old main entrance to the fort stands so majestically. Mena Darwaja is a special entrance for the royal ladies and the queens.  Rani Vasa or Queens’ Chambers is to the left of Mena Darwaja. The royal ladies were using these six rooms. In front of the Rani Vasa is the Palkhi Darwaja, special entrance for the convoy of Shivaji Maharaj. There is a row of three dark chambers to the right of Palkhi Darwaja. There is the palace of Shivaji Maharaj to the right of the granaries.  Mahabaleshwar, Harihareshwar, Ganpatipule, Shivthar Ghal, Gandhar Pale, Torana: Nijampur – Fort Mangad – Raigad Trek, Birwadi – Raigad Trek are the other attractions.
1.Raigad Fort
Raigad was the capital of the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Britishers named it ‘Gibralter of the East’ as the well-fortified structure atop a hill that had repeatedly defied attackers. Shivaji built the fort in the 14th century. Chit Darwaja, also known as Jit Darwaja is at the foothills near village Pachad.
Khoob Ladha Buruj is a strategically located tower, from where any attacker from both the side could be defended. Maha Darwaja is at a distance of nearly a mile ahead after a difficult climb. This 350 years-old main entrance to the fort stands so majestically. Mena Darwaja is a special entrance for the royal ladies and the queens.
Rani Vasa or Queens’ Chambers is to the left of Mena Darwaja. The royal ladies were using these six rooms. In front of the Rani Vasa is the Palkhi Darwaja, special entrance for the convoy of Shivaji Maharaj. There is a row of three dark chambers to the right of Palkhi Darwaja. There is the palace of Shivaji Maharaj to the right of the granaries.
Mahabaleshwar, Harihareshwar, Ganpatipule, Shivthar Ghal, Gandhar Pale, Torana: Nijampur – Fort Mangad – Raigad Trek, Birwadi – Raigad Trek are the other attractions.
Daulatabad was founded by the Yadavas of Deogiri (The hill of Gods) in 11th Century AD under king Bhillama 5, who led victorious campaigns against the hoysalas, paramaras and chalukyas of Kalyana. Subsequent Yadava rulers retained their capital at Deogiri until A.D 1296 when Ala-ud-din Khiliji defeated Ramachandradeva, son of Krishna and held sway over it by forcibly reducing Ramachandradeva as his vassal. Later, Malik Kafur led his armies in A.D 1306-07 and 1312 against the recalcitrant Ramachandradeva and his son Shankardeva successively subdued them and killed the latter. Malik Kafur placed Harpaladeva on the throne who later declared his independence. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shan Khilji made a successful campaign against Deogiri and annexed the same to the Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad-bin-Tughlug, who succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi renamed Deogiri as Daulatabad (Abode of Wealth) and got the capital shifted from Delhi to Daulatabad in A.D 1328. But for various reasons he re-transferred his capital back to Delhi.  By quick succession of political events the area was wrested from the imperial authority and the Bahmani rulers under Hasan Gangu extended his control over Daulatabad as well. By 1499 the Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar not only captured but also made Daulatabad as their capital in 1607. The subsequent period witnesses a series of wars between the Deccan Sultans and the Mughals under Akbar and Shah Jahan. In 1633 AD Daulatabad was finally captured after prolonged siege of four months. It was during this time Aurangzeb was placed as viceroy of Deccan who hed his campaign against Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. For a short period Daulatabad was under the control of the Marathas before the Nizams of Hyderabad took control of it in 1724 AD.

2.Devgiri Fort
Daulatabad was founded by the Yadavas of Deogiri (The hill of Gods) in 11th Century AD under king Bhillama 5, who led victorious campaigns against the hoysalas, paramaras and chalukyas of Kalyana. Subsequent Yadava rulers retained their capital at Deogiri until A.D 1296 when Ala-ud-din Khiliji defeated Ramachandradeva, son of Krishna and held sway over it by forcibly reducing Ramachandradeva as his vassal. Later, Malik Kafur led his armies in A.D 1306-07 and 1312 against the recalcitrant Ramachandradeva and his son Shankardeva successively subdued them and killed the latter. Malik Kafur placed Harpaladeva on the throne who later declared his independence. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shan Khilji made a successful campaign against Deogiri and annexed the same to the Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad-bin-Tughlug, who succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi renamed Deogiri as Daulatabad (Abode of Wealth) and got the capital shifted from Delhi to Daulatabad in A.D 1328. But for various reasons he re-transferred his capital back to Delhi.



By quick succession of political events the area was wrested from the imperial authority and the Bahmani rulers under Hasan Gangu extended his control over Daulatabad as well. By 1499 the Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar not only captured but also made Daulatabad as their capital in 1607. The subsequent period witnesses a series of wars between the Deccan Sultans and the Mughals under Akbar and Shah Jahan. In 1633 AD Daulatabad was finally captured after prolonged siege of four months. It was during this time Aurangzeb was placed as viceroy of Deccan who hed his campaign against Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. For a short period Daulatabad was under the control of the Marathas before the Nizams of Hyderabad took control of it in 1724 AD.
Pratapgad Fort is a mountain fort built by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The fort is at a distance of 24 km from the hill station of Mahabaleshwar. The fort holds a sturdy view of coastal Konkan. The Bhavani Temple and Afzal Khan’s tomb are other places of interest.  Pratapgad consists of two forts – an upper fort built on the top of the hill and a lower fort immediately below on the south and the east. Surrounding areas can be easily taken guard from the fort on almost all the sides. The southern side is rocky while the eastern side has a strong outwork ending in the Afzal Buruj.  The famous minister More Tirmal Pingale on the command of Shivaji Maharaj to control the rebellious satraps of the surrounding Javali Basin built Pratapgad Fort in 1656. It is believed that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja was blessed with a shining sword at the temple of Goddess Bhavani here.  The historic battle between Chatrapati Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the commander of the Bijapur Sultanate fought here. Bhavani Temple and Afzal Khan’s Tomb are major attractions where are situated near the fort.
3.Pratapgad Fort
Pratapgad Fort is a mountain fort built by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The fort is at a distance of 24 km from the hill station of Mahabaleshwar. The fort holds a sturdy view of coastal Konkan. The Bhavani Temple and Afzal Khan’s tomb are other places of interest.
Pratapgad consists of two forts – an upper fort built on the top of the hill and a lower fort immediately below on the south and the east. Surrounding areas can be easily taken guard from the fort on almost all the sides. The southern side is rocky while the eastern side has a strong outwork ending in the Afzal Buruj.
The famous minister More Tirmal Pingale on the command of Shivaji Maharaj to control the rebellious satraps of the surrounding Javali Basin built Pratapgad Fort in 1656. It is believed that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja was blessed with a shining sword at the temple of Goddess Bhavani here.
The historic battle between Chatrapati Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the commander of the Bijapur Sultanate fought here. Bhavani Temple and Afzal Khan’s Tomb are major attractions where are situated near the fort.
About 165 km south of Mumbai in the Raigad district of Maharashtra is Murud Janjira, one of the strongest marine forts of India and the only unconquered one along India’s western coast. Famous for its beaches, the glittering sandy coastline and the villages hemmed with coconut groves, the town of Murud-Janjira attracts large crowds over weekends from Mumbai, which is merely 150 km away. Needless to say, the sea fort is the center of all activity in this small town.  Sailboats from Rajapuri jetty are the only way to approach the fort that is spread across 22 acres. The fort has 19 bastions which still stand intact and its main gate can be only be visible when one is very close to it. The fort also has a small gate that opens to the sea as an escape route. The fort’s well is a marvel as it contains sweet water (despite being in the middle of the sea) and it is defended by cannons. In its heyday, the fort had palaces, mosques, fresh water tanks, markets and quarters for officers.  Janjira is derived from the Arabic word Jazeera which means island. The original structure was built in the 15th century by a Koli chief as defense against sea robbers and thieves.

4.Murud janjira
About 165 km south of Mumbai in the Raigad district of Maharashtra is Murud Janjira, one of the strongest marine forts of India and the only unconquered one along India’s western coast. Famous for its beaches, the glittering sandy coastline and the villages hemmed with coconut groves, the town of Murud-Janjira attracts large crowds over weekends from Mumbai, which is merely 150 km away. Needless to say, the sea fort is the center of all activity in this small town.
Sailboats from Rajapuri jetty are the only way to approach the fort that is spread across 22 acres. The fort has 19 bastions which still stand intact and its main gate can be only be visible when one is very close to it. The fort also has a small gate that opens to the sea as an escape route. The fort’s well is a marvel as it contains sweet water (despite being in the middle of the sea) and it is defended by cannons. In its heyday, the fort had palaces, mosques, fresh water tanks, markets and quarters for officers.
Janjira is derived from the Arabic word Jazeera which means island. The original structure was built in the 15th century by a Koli chief as defense against sea robbers and thieves.




5.Sinhagad Fort
As one of the top military outposts during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the fort of Sinhagad not only offers a fascinating peek into the history of the Maratha Empire but is also a perennial favorite with trekkers and the residents of Pune because of its proximity to the city. While standing atop the hill and taking in the panoramic view of the landscape below, you cannot help but wonder at the vision of those who built such imposing structures at such great heights.
You can’t possibly visit the fort of Sinhagad without first experiencing the delights of a vibrant city like Pune. It was the first capital of the Maratha Empire under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and in the 18th century, the city became a political center of the Indian sub-continent as the seat of the Peshwas who were the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire. The city is a cultural, industrial and educational hub and there are plenty of places of tourist interest, including the Shaniwar Wada which was the palace of the rulers under the Peshwa dynasty; the Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple which was founded in 1893 by a sweetmeat seller who became a wealthy businessman; the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum that displays a variety of artifacts; the Saras Baug which is an imposing and well laid out garden; Parvati Hill that serves as an important religious destination; and Vishrambaug Wada which has a museum showing how Pune was in the old days. There’s also a lot of shopping that you can do in Pune as well as sample different cuisines, especially the Maharashtrian thali.
Raja Bhoja founded Panhala fort in the late 12th century. This fort is located 18 km northwest of Kolhapur. It has connection with God Parashurama as well. Panhala fort, which carries a rich heritage, is the largest of all the Deccan forts. This is the only fort where the great ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have spent more than 500 days. It was built between the 1178-1209 AD.  The fort covers a vast area having huge boundary walls of over 7 km in length and a steep slope beneath. Three magnificent double-walled gates protect the entrance of the fort. There is a large amberkhana (granary) inside the fort, which has the capacity of containing 25,000 khandis of grains.  Shilahara dynasty, Yadava and Bahamani kingdoms, Shivaji, Devagiri Yadavas, Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur army, Mughal Aurangzeb (1700) became the controllers of the fort from time to time. It became Maratha state capital under Tarabai upto 1782, and then British conquered it in 1827.  Sajja Kothi – where Sambhaji was imprisoned, Ambabaji Temple – where Shivaji used to seek blessings before venturing on expeditions, Pavankhind – where Baji Prabhu laid down his life to cover Shivaji’s escape, Someshwar Temple are also worth to visit. This place is an ideal for trekking as well. The nearest railway station is at Kolhapur, 18 km away. It is only 428 km from Mumbai.

6.Panhala Fort
Raja Bhoja founded Panhala fort in the late 12th century. This fort is located 18 km northwest of Kolhapur. It has a connection with God Parashurama as well. Panhala fort, which carries a rich heritage, is the largest of all the Deccan forts. This is the only fort where the great ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have spent more than 500 days. It was built between the 1178-1209 AD.
The fort covers a vast area having huge boundary walls of over 7 km in length and a steep slope beneath. Three magnificent double-walled gates protect the entrance of the fort. There is a large amberkhana (granary) inside the fort, which has the capacity of containing 25,000 khandis of grains.
Shilahara dynasty, Yadava, and Bahamani kingdoms, Shivaji, Devagiri Yadavas, Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur army, Mughal Aurangzeb (1700) became the controllers of the fort from time to time. It became Maratha state capital under Tarabai up to 1782, and the British conquered it in 1827.
Sajja Kothi – where Sambhaji was imprisoned, Ambabaji Temple – where Shivaji used to seek blessings before venturing on expeditions, Pavankhind – where Baji Prabhu laid down his life to cover Shivaji’s escape, Someshwar Temple are also worth to visit. This place is an ideal for trekking as well. The nearest railway station is at Kolhapur, 18 km away. It is only 428 km from Mumbai.

7.Rajmachi Fort
Rajmachi Fort is famous for trekking. The beautiful place is has exotic natural locations as well as it is a historic site. Rajmachi can be reached via the town of Lonavla along the Khandala plateau. Lonavla is an important train station on the Indian rail network. It is most convenient to start the trekking from the morning itself at around 11am.
Near Kalbhairavnath Temple, there is some space that can be used as a campsite. Those who do not want to stay outside can stay inside the temple. There is a tank, which is 100m away on a path to the left of the temple, water is available here. One has to cook his own food or buy some village-made food of Bhakri and Chutney. Once the trekkers reach the fort, one will realize that the climb was really meaningful.



Opposite to Kalbhairavnath Temple, there is another fort called Shreevardhan. The fort has lots of secret tunnels leading to battlements. There is a place called Manranjan behind the temple that gives one a nice view of the plains. Trekkers who want to explore the area can go the base of Manranjan where there are some simple rock-cut caves. Return route is easier to follow; still trekkers are to be careful while getting down from the steep slopes.
Shivneri Fort is one of the most magnificent as well as historically rich forts of India. It is situated at a distance of approximately 90 km from the Pune city of Maharashtra. The fort dates back to the time period when Shivaji was not even born yet. Shivneri Fort was built under the aegis of Sahaji, the father of Shivaji, who wanted a strong fortification that could protect his family from the enemies. Infact, Jijabai (Shivaji’s mother) spent the days of her pregnancy here and it was here only that Shivaji Maharaj was born, in the year 1627.  Almost the entire childhood of Shivaji was spent playing inside the compound of the fort. He received most of his basic education here only and the lessons he learnt here were responsible, to quite an extent, in shaping his personality as a great ruler. Apart from its connection with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the fort is also quite popular for its magnificent architecture. To make the Shivneri Fort enemy proof, Sahaji ordered the construction of seven massive gates. One has to go through all the seven to gain entrance into the fort.  Badami Talav, a small pond situated in the heart of the fort, is one of its most endearing features. In the vicinity of the pond is a magnificent statue of Jijabai, along with her son Shivaji. There are a number of structures near the Shivneri Fort that are worth having a look at. Amongst them is a temple dedicated to Goddess Shivani. The local people of the area believe that Shivaji was named so, after the Goddess only. Then, there are the splendid Nane Ghat and the Jivdhan Fort. So, whenever you visit Pune, make sure to pay a visit to the historical fort also.

8.Shivneri Fort
Shivneri Fort is one of the most magnificent as well as historically rich forts of India. It is situated at a distance of approximately 90 km from the Pune city of Maharashtra. The fort dates back to the time period when Shivaji was not even born yet. Shivneri Fort was built under the aegis of Sahaji, the father of Shivaji, who wanted a strong fortification that could protect his family from the enemies. Infact, Jijabai (Shivaji’s mother) spent the days of her pregnancy here and it was here only that Shivaji Maharaj was born, in the year 1627.
Almost the entire childhood of Shivaji was spent playing inside the compound of the fort. He received most of his basic education here only and the lessons he learnt here were responsible, to quite an extent, in shaping his personality as a great ruler. Apart from its connection with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the fort is also quite popular for its magnificent architecture. To make the Shivneri Fort enemy proof, Sahaji ordered the construction of seven massive gates. One has to go through all the seven to gain entrance into the fort.
Badami Talav, a small pond situated in the heart of the fort, is one of its most endearing features. In the vicinity of the pond is a magnificent statue of Jijabai, along with her son Shivaji. There are a number of structures near the Shivneri Fort that are worth having a look at. Amongst them is a temple dedicated to Goddess Shivani. The local people of the area believe that Shivaji was named so, after the Goddess only. Then, there are the splendid Nane Ghat and the Jivdhan Fort. So, whenever you visit Pune, make sure to pay a visit to the historical fort also.
Sindhudurg is part of Konkan (coastal) region, a narrow coastal plain in western Maharashtra which is bordered on the north by Ratnagiri District, on the south by the state of Goa, on the west by the Arabian Sea, and to the east across the crest of the Western Ghats or Sayadhris is Kolhapur District. Sindhudurg district was earlier a part of the Ratnagiri District. For administrative convenience and industrial and agricultural development Ratnagiri district was divided into Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg with effect from 1st May, 1981. Sindhudurg district now comprises of eight tahsils of Sawantwadi, Kudal, Vengurla, Malvan, Devgad, Kankavli, Vaibhavwadi and Dodamarg. The district headquarters are located at Oros. The district occupies an area of 5207 km². The district is named after the fort of Sindhudurg (which means "Fort in the Sea"), which lies on a rocky island just off the coast of Malvan. The Land of Culture and Natural beauty. Sindhudurg is famous for its natural beauty like Beaches, Backwater, Waterfalls and Pilgrimage centers. The major attraction here is the long and narrow stretch of beaches. On a clear day, you can see the sea-bed through a depth of 20 ft. Then of course, there are the forts, Sindhudurg one of Maharashtra's more popular and important sea forts built in the 17th century and the famous Padmagarh fort. The name of the fort is given to the Sindhudurg district. The 8 talukas of this district are Devgad, Kankavali, Malvan, Kudal, Savantwadi, Vengurla, Dodamarg and Vaibhavwadi. There are 4 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in this district. These are Sawantwadi, Vengurla, Malvan and Devgad. All of these are part of the Rajapur Lok Sabha constituency.

9.Sindhudurg Fort
Sindhudurg is part of Konkan (coastal) region, a narrow coastal plain in western Maharashtra which is bordered on the north by Ratnagiri District, on the south by the state of Goa, on the west by the Arabian Sea, and to the east across the crest of the Western Ghats or Sayadhris is Kolhapur District. Sindhudurg district was earlier a part of the Ratnagiri District. For administrative convenience and industrial and agricultural development Ratnagiri district was divided into Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg with effect from 1st May 1981. Sindhudurg district now comprises eight tahsils of Sawantwadi, Kudal, Vengurla, Malvan, Devgad, Kankavli, Vaibhavwadi and Dodamarg. The district headquarters are located at Oros. The district occupies an area of 5207 km². The district is named after the fort of Sindhudurg (which means "Fort in the Sea"), which lies on a rocky island just off the coast of Malvan. The Land of Culture and Natural beauty. Sindhudurg is famous for its natural beauty like Beaches, Backwater, Waterfalls and Pilgrimage centers. The major attraction here is the long and narrow stretch of beaches. On a clear day, you can see the sea-bed through a depth of 20 ft. Then, of course, there are the forts, Sindhudurg one of Maharashtra's more popular and important sea forts built in the 17th century and the famous Padmagarh fort. The name of the fort is given to the Sindhudurg district. The 8 talukas of this district are Devgad, Kankavali, Malvan, Kudal, Savantwadi, Vengurla, Dodamarg and Vaibhavwadi. There are 4 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in this district. These are Sawantwadi, Vengurla, Malvan, and Devgad. All of these are part of the Rajapur Lok Sabha constituency. Scuba Diving in Malvan is very popular in Sindhudurg fort. One can also explore Watersports in Malvan with Scuba Diving 


10.Ajinkyatara Fort
Ajinkyatra Fort is in Satara, Maharashtra. The fort is located at Ajinkyatara Mountain, which is 3,300 feet high. As the fort is in the higher altitude, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the entire Satara city. There are number of water tanks inside the fort for storing water. So, there is no scarcity of water even as the fort is in the higher place.
Viewing the Ajinkyatara Fort from far Yawateshwar hill too is so nice. Main attractions of this place are hiking, trekking and mountaineering. For the best view, one must start breasting up the hill from the base of Ajinkyatara at around 3.30 pm.



In 1708, Shahu Maharaj won Ajinkyatara, remained with the Marathas till 1818. The Ajinkyatara fort is a major historic place of Maharashtra, and was very vital as one could keep watch of the entire South Maharashtra.

Visitors can also visit the temples of Devi Mangalai, Lord Shankar and Lord Hanuman on the northeast side of the fort. Nandgiri and Chandan-Vandan forts on the east and Jarandeshwar and Yawateshwar hills on the west can also be seen from the fort. Satara is well connected by rail and road with Pune, Sangli, Miraj and Kolhapur. One can stay at the hotels in Satara.

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