Maharashtra is famous for its numerous forts which were mostly built during the regime of the valiant Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj. Many forts were also conquered by Shivaji like Sinhagad fort. Out of the 300+ forts, I have mentioned a few important ones below:
Shivaji won the fort in the battle of 1670. Shivaji and his army is said to have scaled the vertical walls of the formidable fort using Iguanas. Shivaji’s famous army commander Tanaji Malusare was killed in the fight and a memorial dedicated to Tanaji exists in premises of the fort. Inside the fort one can see horse stables, Shri Lokmanya Tilak’s cottage, Tanaji’s grave & memorial and a small lake. Visitors are treated to absolutely spectacular view of the Sahyadri ranges, deep gorges and valleys. During monsoons, the whole area gets engulfed in clouds and is an amazing experience of walking in clouds. Maharashtra tourism ‘(MTDC) operates a dormitory at the top of the fort with boarding and lodging facilities which require prior booking form their Pune office.
Sinhagad is located 24 kms from Pune and can be accessed by road. There is a parking area at the entrance of the fort. Steps through the huge gates or ‘Darwazas’ lead up to the main areas of the fort. There are many small dhabas or restaurants selling the famous local delicacy ‘Jhunka-Bhakari’ and onion pakodas. Ideal for a day visit but tends to get extremely crowded during monsoons and the winter months.
A majestic fort, Pratapgad at a height of 1080 metres was built by Shivaji in 1656. It is located at a distance of 24 kms from Mahabaleshwar and 15 kms from Poladpur. The fort offers awesome views of the surrounding hills, valleys and villages. Pratapgad fort is an important part of history as Shivaji Maharaj fought against and killed his enemy, the Mughal warrior, Afzal Khan in 1659. He built the grave of Afzal Khan here. At the very top, there is a small garden with a huge statue of the Shivaji Maharaj and a temple of Bhavani Mata, clan deity of the Maratha’s. Vehicles can drive up to the parking level from where there are 350 steps in all leading up to top of the fort. A good time to visit would be afternoons between 2-5 pm. One can witness a spectacular sunset from the fort. The local Panchaganga Temple is considered the source of five important rivers of the region.
Purandar was the Capital of the Marathas at one point in time and the magnificent fort was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji. I is set on the top of a hill offering spectacular views of the Sahyadri ranges. NCC (National cadet Corps) also has a center here. Purandar Fort is located 38 kms from Pune which is also the nearest Railway station and airport. It is an extremely popular trek during monsoons.
Raigad is a famous hilltop fortress which was the capital of the Marathas for over 15 years. Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, was crowned here and also breathed his last here. His samadhi (memorial) and the ruins of the Palace lie within the fort. There is also a beautiful lake. The entire area is very scenic and perfect for a day visit during monsoons and winter.
Lohagad and Visapur Forts
These twin forts on adjacent hills are located near Lonavala and visible from the Mumbai-Pune highway. These forts are popular for treks amongst all age groups. Nearest railway station is Kamshet. Trek to the forts starts from here and takes about an hour to reach the fort at the top of the hill. Enjoy magnificent sunrises and sunsets and a great view of Lonavala city.
Located in Parali, 18 kms Satara in Maharashtra, this grand fortress houses the samadhi of Sant Ramdas, mentor of Shivaji Maharaj and a spiritual leader in the 17th century. From the parking area near the main entrance there are a hundred steps leading to main gate in the upper areas of the fort. The climb up is steep and not recommended for the elderly or persons with health issues. Sajjangad means ‘Fort of the people’ and is extremely popular as a place of pilgrimage for both the local population and travelers from far. The Swami Ramdas Sansthan organizes daily prayers in the morning and food in the afternoon for the devotees. Free stay is also provided in the dharamshala. The fort is open from sunrise till sunset. Buses and rickshaws also ply from Satara to Sajjangad.
This is a renowned island fort which houses a temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj and precious relics of the Maratha ruler. It can be accessed by road via Kolhapur, 150 kms away, which is also the nearest railway station. Nearest airport is at 165 kms away at Belgaum in Karnataka.
This is another fort in the sea built by Chhatrapati Shivaji. One can visit the Shri Rameshwar temple here. It is 140 kms from Kolhapur and 239 kms from Belgaum.
Located 40kms from Pune, this fort has been converted into a luxury heritage hotel with all modern facilities including a swimming pool. It also houses a museum displaying swords and artifacts of the erstwhile Maratha rulers.