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.
The Gawilgadh or Gawilghur or Gavilgarh Fort is one of the oldest Maratha forts of Maharashtra. The origin of the fort is unknown and legends say that the fort was an old building made of mud, built by some Gawali king in the 12th century. According to Persian historian Firishta, this building was converted into a fort with major fortification by Ahmed Shah Wali in 1425. Ahmed Shah Wali was the ninth king of the Muzaffarid dynasty. This fort had seen many rulers starting from the Mughal rulers to the Marathas and finally giving way to the British rule in 1858.
Situated on a 200-meter high conical hill, Daulatabad was one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. Spread over an area of 95 hectares, its defence system consisted of two moats and three encircling fortification walls with lofty gates and bastions at regular intervals. The fort was subsequently enlarged and various structures were added as it passed from one dynasty to another. As a reminder of that era, you can see here the remains of the moat and the fortification walls along with the stepped wells, the court building, a temple dedicated to Bharat Mata, a hall of public audience, water cisterns, royal baths and a rock-cut passage. The excavations carried out within the fort complex between 2003 and 2007 have also laid bare the lower city complex consisting of main lanes and by-lanes.
Most forts, and particularly the ancient ones at that, are now in a state of ruin with just broken stone structures helping us imagine their erstwhile grandeur. However, one among those that has survived the ravages of time is the fort at Kandhar, located 55 kilometers from Nanded. Constructed at a strategic point on the banks of the river Manyad, it has its fortifications intact, thus making a visit worth the while.
This is a taluka headquarter, just 20 kms away from Latur. Ausa also has a old historical fort which today is in ruins. The pace has a huge temple of Virnath Maharaj, built by his son Mallinath Maharaj about 300 years ago.
Naldurg is the biggest land fort in Maharashtra. It has 3 km long fortification wall and 114 bastions. ‘PaniMahal’ is the most attractive monument on this fort. It gives amazing view from inside of this ‘PaniMahal’, when water from ‘Bori’ river flows down from the top of this ‘PaniMahal’. This view can be enjoyed at the end of the monsoons.
If indeed you would like to know how visionary, intelligent and resourceful the Maratha rulers were in Maharashtra, a visit to the Sindhudurg Fort in the Konkan region should be a must. It was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's on an island two kilometers into the sea and had the advantage of rock formations around it to give it natural protection. Apart from the beauty and historical value of this fort, the surrounding landscape in itself is a tourist’s delight with several options for adventure too.
Vijaydurg is located in Devgad taluka of Sindhudurg district, a region famous for its produce of Alphonso mangoes. It is believed that the Vijaydurg Fort was built by Raja Bhoj II of Shilahar dynasty in 13th century CE. It was earlier known as Gheria because of its proximity to the village Girye and functioned as a strong military base for Admiral Kanhoji Angre, who had spread the terror in the minds of the enemies of that period. The fort is also known as the ‘Gibraltar of the East’ since it was so impregnable, surrounded by the Arabian Sea from three sides.
Raigad is situated in the taluka of Mahad and the fort rises 820 meters above sea level. As historical records show, the fort was known by different names at different times, including Tanas, Rasivata, Nandadeep and Rayari. It was initially under the control of Chandrarao More of Jawali and captured by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's when he defeated More in a fierce battle in 1656 CE, following which he re-named it Raigad. It was around this time that the boundaries of the Maratha Empire i.e. Swarajya were expanding and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's felt the need to shift the capital from Rajgad.
Located about a quarter of a mile off the coast from Harnai port is the fascinating Suvarnadurg Fort. A rocky island, Suvarnadurg is about 8 acres big with stone wall bastions. The sea-gate of Suvarnadurg fort depicts carved figures of a tiger, eagle & elephants and fifteen old guns are located inside this sea fort. Suvarnadurg is cetainly a must visit during your Dapoli vacation.
The coastal line of Maharashtra is divided into North Konkan and Konkan from travelling perspective. Mumbai is the main island in North Konkan and to protect it, many forts were constructed. Out of these forts, the fort of Vasai is the significant one. One who ruled this fort, could rule over the surrounding regions of Mumbai, Thane, and Saashti. The fort witnessed the victory of Marathas under the leadership of Chimajiappa, from 1737 to 1739, against the Portuguese.
Lying at a distance of 2 kms from the shores of Alibag, is the Kolaba Fort also known as Kulaba fort after the Kamaludin Shah baba (Ku-La-ba). Said to be 300 years old, the fort is surrounded by sea and has two chief entrances, one on the seaside and the other in the direction of Alibag. The walls of the fort are said to be 25 feet high.
In all there are 11 forts in Mumbai, which guarded the various creeks and the sea routes. The British built a fort on Worli Island in 1675, which forms “L” shaped region with Bandra fort and Mahim fort. This region was characterized by silent sea, and hence suitable for sea traffic.
Mumbai is made up of 7 islands, and was separated from main land due to Mahim creek. This was an important trade route, and the Mahim fort was built to safeguard it. The Portuguese built Bandra fort near today’s Bandra reclamation (formerly a part of Sashti or Salsette island) to make this region more safe.
Ramshej Fort is located north of Nashik city, and has been historically significant. History has it, that the fort was attacked by Mughals (Aurangzeb’s army), and his commanders threatened the Maratha kingdom saying that they would capture the fort in hours. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s son Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and his army resisted these attacks for almost 6 years. One can find the references to this battle well fought by brave Maratha warriors from Mughal letters.
Shivneri is a hill fort located to the northern side of Pune district with Junnar at its base. In the history of the Maratha Empire, the fort holds special significance because it was the birth place of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's. The irony of course is that he never ruled Shivneri, though he tried to capture ...
Torna Fort, also known as Prachandagad, is a large fort located in Pune district, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is historically significant because it was the first fort captured by Shivaji in 1646. On the fort are found many trees of the type “Toran”, which may be the reason for the name of the fort. The village at the base of the fort is called “Velhe”. To the south of Torna is the river of Velvandi & to the north is the Valley of Kanad River.
Out of the 360 forts that bear testimony to the glory of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's, the Pratapgad Fort holds the most significant place in Maratha rule because it is from here that the history of this legendary emperor took a decisive course after he scored a victory against the mighty Afzal Khan, commander of the Bijapur Adilshahi forces. Also, the fort commands a spectacular view of the surroundings.
At the time of the rule of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's, the one thing that Maharashtra got in abundance was forts. With its hilly terrain and the ruler’s expertise at establishing forts at strategic points, the state can now lay claims to have some of the finest, strongest, and the most unique forts of India. Out of these, the ones at Lohagad and Visapur occupy an extremely important place in the history of Maratha rule for the various military activities that they witnessed.
Ask any regular trekker to draw up a list of some of the popular destinations for trekking in Maharashtra and Rajmachi will definitely figure on it. Although just a small village in the rugged mountains of Sahyadri, it has been a favorite tourist spot for the presence of two forts, namely Shrivardhan and Manaranjan, both of which are located amidst a green canopy offering amazing views of hills and valleys.
The fort of Panhala occupies a prime place in the history of Maharashtra and is also a favourite destination as a hill station. Built by the Shilahara dynasty of Kolhapur in 12th century, the fort passed into the hands of the Yadavas of Devgiri, Bahamani, Adilshahi and subsequently the Marathas.
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 favourite 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.
It is a known fact that a lot of the history of Maharashtra has been structured and re-structured by none other than the Maratha ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. And when it comes to any mention of this warrior king, Rajgad cannot be left behind. This majestic and sprawling fort atop a hill in the Sahaydri ranges was where Shivaji spent almost 24 years of his life. It was also the capital of the Maratha Empire up to 1672 CE.
In a region that is essentially known for its hill forts, a long coastline with wonderful beaches and places of pilgrimage, Sajjangad in the district of Satara not only occupies a place of historical importance but tops the list when it comes to the devotees of Samarth Ramdas Swami, one of the most prominent spiritual mentors in this part of India. It was here that he stayed for a long time as also breathed his last.
Ajinkyatara is also known as ‘Fort of Satara’. It can be seen from anywhere in Satara city. Ajinkyatara is built on the mountain, which belongs to “Bamnoli” range that starts from Pratapgad. The geographical significance of all these forts is that, it is impossible to travel directly from one fort to another. All the forts in this region are comparatively less heightened.
The Sahyadri , which stretch along the north-south direction, also have ranges that branch off eastward. On one of it Sinhgad stands. The same range continues for 24 kms before terminating at Bhuleshwar. On this very range lies the prestigious “PURANDAR FORT” along with Vajragad. We have to travel across Katraj ghat, Bapdeo ghat and Dive ghat to reach upto the foothills of the fort. The fort is covered by plateau region on all its sides.