Experience the brilliance of Maratha Defence Architecture – Wander the Raigad Fort!
6th June marks the 343rd anniversary of the coronation ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. On this occasion let’s talk of a fort which is most famous for being his capital. This is the place that inspired many in the past to join the cause of Swarajya and continue to do so, even today. This is the same place that witnessed the grand coronation ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1674. Located in the hills of the Sahyadris, Raigad was a challenge for the enemies and played a significant role in the Maratha Empire serving as its capital. Defence and public architecture of this fort epitomise brilliance and farsightedness of Chattrapati Shivaji. Today, the ravages of time combined with the lack of proper attention has made it stand in ruins.
How to get there?
Raigad fort is situated in the Mahad Taluka of Maharashtra and is at a drivable distance from both Pune and Mumbai. You can visit the fort in any season but may we recommend the monsoon. Because that is when the Sahyadris looks most graceful. The village at the base of the fort is named Pachad. Ruins of the palace constructed for Rajmata Jijabai stands here. This palace was constructed for her residence during her last days. To reach the citadel, you need to climb the stairs from the main entrance, Mahadarwaja. There are more than 1000 steps! Another alternative though is to opt for cable cars. If you have less time on hand, may we suggest that you take the cable car on the way up and climb down by the steps? This will give you a thrilling experience of the Maratha defence architecture.
What to see?
Your trail map depends on the climbing option you choose. If you climb the steps you may begin the trail from Mahadarwaja and reach the Royal court‘s entrance. The ropeway drops you at Mena Darwaja which was the gate meant for women folk. From here you visit the Royal Palace flanked by the Ranivasa, the Queens’ chambers. In the vicinity, you see some chambers for the officials as well.
Other notable structures here are
* Bajarpeth – Market Complex.
*Gangasagar Talav – a lake constructed for water storage.
* Jagadishwar Temple – A small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, entrance to this temple
the courtyard is from the backside! Interesting! Archaeologists believe it was done in the
later period when Peshwas took over this fort destructed by the Britishers. The main entrance has a small stepping stone with an inscription by the Chief Architect Hiroji Indulkar. Hiroji mentions he will be always at the service! In front of the Temple rests the samadhi of Chattrapati Shivaji and his dear dog Vaghya. Locals believe his dog too had jumped into the funeral pyre following his master.
* Takmak Tok – one of the unique attraction of this fort. It is a narrow cliff that once helped to protect the great empire. Its straight edges made it almost impossible for climbing.
* Hirakani Buruj – Bastion dedicated to Hirakani, a local milk lady of the village. The story goes that there was a strict warning of Shivaji that no gates will be opened for any person after the sunset. Hirakani who happened to be working at the Fort requested the officials to open the gates for her past 7 so that she could go home to feed her baby.
When the officials refused she got anxious about her hungry child and showed the courage of climbing down the cliff. For this courageous act of hers, Shivaji honoured her by naming the bastion watch tower after her.
Raigad has so much to tell it’s visitors. Stories of the bravery, brilliance, vision, friendship, loyalty and also of greed and jealousy! Wander in the trails left by one of the great personalities of Indian history.
Witness the celebrations of the ‘Rajyabhishek Sohala’ on Tuesday, 6th June 2017 at the Raigad Fort which will be graced by the presence of the current Chatrapati and the CM of Maharashtra along with the hundreds of heritage lovers and the villagers dressed in traditional Marathi costumes! Marathi traditional arts and dances are the major attraction for the day.
P.S: As this event gathers huge crowd there maybe a lot of waiting time for the cable cars. We recommend climbing the fort by the Maha Darwaja route.
Also, book your accommodation in advance if you prefer to stay.
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