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 gleams with the pride of a victorious warrior.
The once-proud bastions of army, today stand silent and dignified. Battered by the weather gods, often plundered, walls crumbling in sections and roofs blown away, yet the forts of Maharashtra exude power and inspire awe.
Maharashtra’s forts speak of vision and authority. Whether it’s the mountains that call out to you or the ocean, Maharashtra has a fort for all seasons.
The Ajinkyatra Fort, Satara, stands tall at 3,300 feet, offering visitors a sprawling view of the city. The Daulatabad fort around Aurangabad dates backs to the 12th century hilltop fortress era.
In the Harishchandragad fort famed for its height, remnants of Mesolithic man have been discovered. While the Lohagad and Visapur forts, are trekkers’ delights.
Mahabaleshwar offers views of Shivaji’s famous mountain fort, Pratapgad. Shivneri the birth place of Shivaji is sacred for his followers and one of the best maintained forts in Maharashtra today. While Raigad, the capital of the Marathas, has an enchantingly quaint but technically sound ropeway to pull you up to its taunt peak.
Fortresses of the seas
The Arnala islands around Vasai are sheltered by the Jaldurgs, as the sea forts are fondly referred to. Janjira the invincible fort near Murud sits majestic lashed by the churning ocean on all sides. Take a little boat and make a trip like the locals: bags full of fish, chickens in cane baskets and even motorcycles consider the ferry a daily ride home.
Maharashtra’s coastal splendor is magnified by Sindhudurg, Shivaji’s ocean fort on a rocky island makes a lovely picnic spot as you imagine horses and armies marching forward. Built in the 12th century Vijaydurg fort was named Gibralter of the East by the British for its sheer invincibility.
Forts that built cities
Whether it’s the 500-year-old Ahmadnagar Fort or the Portuguese Bassein that had a European city within it, forts have built localities. And an old British fort, lent Mumbai’s fort district its name. Kandhar in Nanded District was the seat of power of the Rashtrakuta dynasty in the 9th century CE. Maharashtra’s many forts speak of supremacy, command and muscle combined with intellect. Visits that remind you of the legacy you have been passed on to use and preserve for future generations.