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Pratapgad near Mahabaleshwar

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pratapgad is located around 22 KM away from Mahabaleshwar ST Bus Depot. It is around 1080 metres above sea level. 
Western Ghats

Road constructed at the edge of the Ghats

 History states that this fort was constructed by Moropant Trimbak Pingle on the orders of Shivaji Maharaj in 1656. The fort is famous for the battle fought between Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan of Bijapur Sultanate. 
Western Ghats
Western Ghats (another view)
Instead of 9:30 AM, finally the bus arrives at 9:50 AM. After collecting passengers, with 3/4 of the bus finally filled, it departed for Pratapgad Fort. 
Pratapgad from the base village
We had to travel through the same ghats we had crossed in the moonlight while coming up to Mahableshwar. 
Pratapgad from Shiv Shrusti
The view of the hills, hill ranges and valley was very beautiful. The browny mountains partially covered with trees, the blue skies with a few clouds made it a nice panoramic photo. The ghat roads are narrow and curvy so if driving, please maintain safe distance and do not overtake or race a you would be putting yours and the lives of others in jeopardy.
Manohar and Me
Finally the bus reached the bottom of the hill range only to climb Pratapgad. The road here is narrower and steep and covered with trees on either side of the road. So get used to the sounds of the clash between the wood and the metal. 
Pratapgad Darshan Bus
The first stop the ST bus makes is to Shiv Shrusti. A Traditional Village. It showcases the life of the villagers and villages in the era of Shivaji. There is a ticket to view it. As this was not on our agenda we gave it a miss. But this place offered a beautiful view of Pratapgad in a distance. The fortification was just wonderful from a distance.
Orange flag atop the bastion, lower hjalf of the fort
The bus then moved to Pratapgad fort. Again the narrow curvy and steep road led to the top. The driver had to toggle between first and second gear all the way up. And if we had traffic from the opposite side and the climb would come to a standstill for a minute or two till both vehicles have crossed over. 
Narrow entrance or Darwaza to the fort
Finally at 11:15 AM we were atop the hill near the entrance of the fort. The view was breathtaking. There are guides here who offer to take you around the fort but for a price. As TIME was a major constraint we decided to do away without the guide. 
Panoramic View of the hills and valleys 
The bus conductor informed that we had an hour's time to see the entire fort, we decided to hurry as we wanted to finish the fort in entirety. We were also not sure how big the fort was. 
Fortification, upper half of the fort
There is parking space available here, loads of cars and buses were parked here. I got a feeling that this fort is easily accessible by everyone. Which made it a favorite tourist spot. 
At the entrance is a small cave. A series of steps leads to the main entrance of the fort. But I did notice is that the steps are narrow and curvy with walls on either side of it. Maybe it was designed that way so that the enemy soldiers could be stopped or killed in ambush while entering the fort premises.
Stone Rice Grinder
After entering the Main Door or Darwaza we headed off to the main bastion of the fort. The fort is divided into two halves. The upper half and the lower half. He decided to visit the lower half first. Certain portions of the wall has been redone. There is a orange colored flag swaying in the wind here. The bastion offers a beautiful view of the hills , the hill ranges one after the other and the deep valleys within them. Though this is not the the tallest point on the fort but it did feel awesome to stand here and watch the valleys and hill ranges in a distance. 
Bastion with the orange flag
The fortification is intact and in one piece. No damage done on the walls.
Upper and Lower Half of the Fort
Inner Door to the Upper half
The fort also houses two water bodies in the lower portion of the fort. The water bodies were constructed in such a way that the water of the rains could be accumulated here so that the water issues could be addressed. 
Lower half of the fort
Atop the fort is a huge statue of Shivaji Maharaj which was inaugurated by Pandit Jawarhal Nehru. The road leading to the fort was built then. 
Bhawani Temple from a distance
Bhawani Temple
Bhawani Temple (another view)
We located the Bhawani Temple atop the fort. It was beautiful and still in use. The temple was made of black stone and the top of it was covered in golden sheets. Not sure as to why they were placed there. The temple premises also showcases hand cannon in various shapes and sizes. The Malwa soldiers would carry these with them and use them when needed.  
Water bodies
Narrow stairs and fortification
Locals still stay on the fort premises. They have doubled their houses as snack and refreshment shops. Some have shops selling souvenirs and  T shirts with Shivaji on them other books and CD's on the life of Shivaji. Some serve lunch, the sitting arrangement is similar to the one they had in Shivaji era. As TIME was a major constraint we gave it a miss. 
Miniature forts constructed in the fort premises
Miniature forts constructed in the fort premises
The tomb of Afzal Khan, we were not able to locate the same on the fort premises. 
Not sure as to what this in
Broken structures in fort premises
Hand Cannon in Bhawani Temple premises
Eeeehhaaa. We finished the fort in an hour's time. Though the fort appeared big it ain't. We walked on the walls of the fort, though narrow and uneven but offered a wonderful 360 degree view of the surrounding hill ranges and valley. The road by which we came up the fort was a narrow and winding road up. It was clearly visible from here. 
View of the deep valleys from the walls of the fort
Hill ranges in a distance
I wonder how life would have been in Shivaji era. If only I could turn back time.

Next Points of Mahabaleshwar
Fortification and houses of the locals in the fort premises
Dia stand in Bhawani Temple premises
Now time for Mahabaleshwar Darshan 


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