Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rajgad - King of Forts

Rajgad (The king of all forts in Marathi) is one of the most important forts in Maharashtra.The fort was the capital of Maratha empire for more than 25 years. This was one of the first few forts captured by Shivaji Maharaj

The fort is situated about 42 km to south west of Pune. To visit the fort, one can go to Nasarapur which is about 35 km from Pune along Mumbai - Bangalore national highway. Rajgad is just 22 km from Nasrapur. From Nasrapur you can reach to villages at the base of Rajgad : Gunjawane or Wajeghar, from where the trek starts.

Today the fort is attraction for trekkers because of it's huge size, its sky rocking height, the difficult route and the historical importance of the fort. The trek to this fort can also be done from the fort Torna. The fort Torna is located very close  in the west to Rajgad. The Torna to Rajgad trek is also attraction for trekkers.

Rajgad is witness to the many important incidents in nascent Maratha Empire. The fort was called 'Murumb Devecha Dongar' (the mountain of god 'Murumb') before Shivaji Maharaj captured it from Aadilshaha. Shivaji Maharaj renovated the fort and constructed the fortification for this fort.The treasure he had got while construction of Torna was utilized for this task. He then renamed the fort to 'Rajgad'. 

There are many places to visit on the fort :
  1. Padmavati Machi
  2. Suvela Machi
  3. Balekilla
  4. Sanjeevani Machi
  5. Nedhe (The big hole to the rock)

Below is the photograph taken from Torna to Rajgad Trek. This is how the Rajgad looks from west side. The Sanjeevani Machi, the Suvela Machi and the Balekilla at the center are visible in the below pic.

Rajgad as seen from west side
This is how the balekilla looks like when seen from west. This snap is also taken from the route of Torna -Rajgad Trek. This presents the terrifying look of the fort.
Balekilla of Rajgad as seen from west side

Rajgad as seen from west side
Below is the pic of the end of Sanjeevani Machi, the west most point of the fort Rajgad. From this rock Rajgad to Torna Trek starts and the Torna to Rajgad trek ends.
The end of Sanjeevani Machi

Gate in the fortification wall on Sanjeevani Machi
Below is the snap of 'Alu Darwaja' (the Alu gate) of the fort. This is on Sanjeevani Machi of the fort.
Alu darwaja (Alu Gate)
The Sanjeevani Machi of the fort has dual fortification. This shows the prescience of Shivaji Maharaj. The dual fortification has made the fort more robust. Below is the pic how the Sanjeevani Machi looks like with the dual fortification.

Dual Fortification of Sanjeevani Machi
Visitors can stay in the temple of goddess Padmavati, on Padmavati Machi. The drinking water is available in the Padmavati lake or from two wells on Padmavati. The wells are known as 'Panaychi taki' (water tanks in Marathi)

Below is the pic how Balekilla looks like in morning.
Balekilla as seen from Padmavati Machi

Balekilla as seen from Padmavati Machi
Saibai, the fist wife of Shivaji Maharaj and mother of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, pased away on this fort in September 1659. When Shivaji Maharaj was preparing to fight Afzalkhan on Pratapgad. She was just 26 years old then. Her tomb is on Rajgad's Padmavati Mahi, before the temple of goddess Padmavati. Below is the pic of her tomb.
Tomb of Saibai
This is the temple of goddess Padmavati.
Padmavati Temple

 Remains of the construction on Padmavati Machi

Torna as seen from Padmavati Machi of Rajgad
The trek to Balekilla from Padmavati Machi is exciting for trekkers. Below are some snaps of this route. At the end of the route there is the Mahadarwaja of Rajgad's Balekilla, the most exciting place on Rajgad.
Trek to Balekilla of Rajgad
Way to Balekilla of Rajgad

Way to Balekilla of Rajgad
This is the Mahadarwaja of  Rajgad's Balekilla. It is beyond imagination that how the King Shivaji have constructed this monument at the difficult place. This can be seen as an excellent piece of engineering .
After Afzalkhan was killed at Pratapgad, his head was sent here and was buried in the walls of Balekilla.
 Balekilla Mahadarwaja

 Balekilla Mahadarwaja
Below is the temple of goddess Janani.
Janani Devi Temple
This is one of the lakes at the top of Balekilla. The shape of this lake is similar to that of the moon decrescent. That is why this is called 'Chandratale' (The moon lake).
This is the temple of Bramharshi situated on the Balekilla.
Bramharshi Temple
These are the ruins of the palace of Shivaji Maharaj on Balekilla.
 Remains of palace
Below are the stoves that were used to cook.These are present in the ruins of palace on Balekilla.
Below is the excellent look of fort Torna from Balekilla of Rajgad. The snap also shows the route to Torna from Rajgad. It also shows the thumb rock on the Budhala Machi of Torna.
Another very exciting scene that can be seen from here is that, at the time of sunrise, the shadow of Rajgad falls on Torna and at the time of sunset the shadow of Torna falls on Rajgad.
Torna as seen from Balekilla of Rajgad

Water tanks on Balekilla and the Sanjeevani Machi

Sanjeevani Machi as seen from Balekilla

Padmavati machi and Pali Darwaja as seen from Balekilla
This is how the Mahadarwaja of Blaekilla looks from top. This shows the the strategical placement of the door. In most of the forts, the arrangement is made such that minimum space is left outside of the main gate. This is to make sure that during war minimum number of enemy soldiers can occupy the important space before the main gate. Also the holes are provided in the bastions adjacent to the door. These holes are used to shoot the enemy soldiers with cross bow or with gun. The holes are also visible in the below pic.
Mahadarwaja Balekilla
Suvela Machi of Rajgad can be seen from Mahadarwaja of Rajgad. Below is the snap how the eastern side (Suvela Machi) is seen from Mahadarwaja of Rajgad.
Sanjeevani Machi as seen from Mahadarwaja of Balekilla

Balekilla as seen from Suvela Machi
The Mahadarwaja of Balekilla can not be seen from Padmavati Machi, as it is facing towards east, so can be seen from Suvela Machi. This is how it looks from Suvela Machi.
Balekilla Mahadarwaja

In the below image, the Suvela Machi and the flag bastion ('Zenda Buruj' in Marathi) are visible.
Suvela Machi and Zenda Buruj
There is a big natural hole to the Elephant Rock on Suvela Machi. In Marathi, the hole is called as 'Nedhe'. The Nedhe is big enough to provide space for 10 - 12 persons in the hole. The hole is seen in the below image.
Nedhe (the  hole)
Below snap shows how the Balekilla and the Padmavati Machi of Rajgad are seen from Suvela Machi. This shows the hugeness of the fort.
 Balekilla and Padmavati Machi as seen from Suvela Machi

Suvela Machi as seen from the top of Elephant Rock

Guard's place on  Padmavati Machi
This is the Pali Darawaja (Pali Gate) of Rjagad. This is along one of the relatively easy route to Rajgad. This is on Padmavati Maci and facing to west. Torna for can be seen from this gate.
Pali Darwaja

Torna as seen from Pali Darwaja of Rajgad

Gate before Pali Darwaja

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Torna : The first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj

"Torna" (Tornagad) or "Prachandgad" was the first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj. He captured this fort and started his journey to build the Maratha empire when he was just sixteen years old (in 1643). This shows his valor and determination to construct a new empire.

When Shivaji Maharaj took over this fort from Aadilshah (Sultan of Vijapur) this fort did not had too much construction on it. This fort was not given more stratagic importance by the Aadilshahas. After capturing this fort, Shivaji Maharaj started to construct some buildings on the forts and fortification for the fort. This was necessary to make the fort a secure place which can be used in forthcoming war against the Aadilshah and the Mughals. While construction Shivaji Maharaj  found a treasure on the fort. Assuming this to be a good omen, he utilised this money on construction of this fort and  the fort "Rajgad".

The fort has two temples on it. The first one is of goddess "Toranjai" and the second one is of goddess "Menghai". You can stay in the temple of goddess "Menghai" if necessary. The fort has two major wings (in Marathi "Machi") the "Zunzar Machi" and the "Budhala Machi". On the Budhala Machi, there is big vertical rock. When seen from distance it seems to be a thumb held up. The fort also has two gates: the "Binicha Darwaja" (Bini Gate) and "Konkan Darwaja" (Konkan Gate). The Binich Darwaja takes you inside the fort, while the Konkan Darwaja takes you to the Budhala Machi.

This is one of the tallest forts in Maharashtra. So, this has always been a center of attraction for the trekkers. This fort is located at about 60 Km from Pune. To visit the fort you may reach the village Velha from Swargate bus stop of Pune via Nasarapur.

Here are some of the snaps of the Torna fort.

Torna as seen from Velha village

Torna fort as seen from the way to it from Velha village

Torna as seen from the way to it

One of the hard portion of the trek to Torna

Binicha Darwaja of Torna

Binicha Darwaja

The temple of goddess "Menghai"

Zunzar Machi

Budhala Machi with the thumb rock

A tunnel (secret way) on the fort

Way to Budhala Machi