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Thursday, March 27, 2014

I was planning on visiting Raigad fort for quite some time now, but due to some or the other circumstances could not visit this fort.

Finally a sudden decision to visit Raigad was made, with Pravin Kamble as my trek buddy.

Maha Darwaza

We wanted a direct bus to Raigad Fort from Mumbai. As we didn’t get any direct buses after making a couple of inquiries a day in advance  we decided to take a bus to Mahad and then from there change to a bus plying towards Raigad. From Mumbai buses run around the clock to Mahad and from Mahad buses run around the clock to Raigad.

As decided we met at Dadar Railway Station on the Western Side and walked to the nearest ST bus Stop. The ST Bus Stop is very close to the place from where private taxis and buses ply to Pune.

At around 10 pm we finally got a bus to take us to Mahad. We hopped on to this bus and within2 ½ hours time we were at Mahad. As it was night and thanks to less traffic on the road we were there in 2 ½ hours time which was surprising as we were expecting to reach in 4 hours time.  The bus journey cost us Rs.130 for two.
Coronation Place
As it was January the weather was very cold outside. Was feeling cold in the jumper I had worn.

Now we had to kill time at Mahad ST Bus station as bus to Raigad Fort was at 3:45 am. This was not a direct bus, but a bus passing through Raigad, going to Sandoshi as instructed to us by the attendant at the bus stop.

This bus arrived at Mahad ST Bus station at 3 am but departed for Sandoshi at 4 am. Now it was very cold at the bus station itself. 
View of the fort from the Ropeway
Was shivering from the inside and wanted a cup of tea to keep me warm. Could not locate any stall serving tea in the morning and so had to take my chances and see if I can locate a tea stall at Raigad. The bus had arrived from Borivali in Mumbai and had left Borivali around 11 pm in the night. That means there is a direct bus that passes from Raigad to Sandoshi. Eeehaa.

Finally after a 45 minute journey through the cold we alighted at Pachad Naka. The ticket cost us Rs.50 for two.

Pravin and Me
Finally at Pachad Naka which is the base village for the Raigad Fort we located a tea stall which was just starting business for the day. We were the first to give him business for the day. Had a hot cup of tea at Rs.10 each.  The tea reduced the shivering in my body to some extent.

We then decided to wait till dawn to start climbing the fort. Dawn was around 1 ½ hours away. What will we do sitting there for that long? Finally Pravin said, let’s start right away. Now we faced another problem.  After we started walking and were about to exit the base village we noticed that there were no street lamps nor were there any stars in the sky. Pitch black.  On Pravin s insistence we decided to move on in the dark using his mobile phone as a torch to show us the way in the dark.

As the approach road to Raigad had proper stairs we didn’t face much problem climbing up. We took ample rest on the way and finally at around 630 hours we were at the base of the two huge bastions of the fort. For the record at 7 am we were atop the fort.

We entered the fort via the Maha Darwaza.  A narrow or not so narrow entrance flanked by two huge bastions on either side. Just imagine what if the enemy had attacked via this route. They would have been ambushed by the soldiers atop the bastions.  

Remnants atop the fort
We hurried to reach the Coronation Point of Shivaji. Why? As it was morning we wanted to capture some good shots on our camera of the morning sunrise on the statue.

We were then greeted by Hunger Attack. Our stomachs had started growling as we hadn’t had anything since last night. We finally managed to find a few other trekkers on the fort who had camped there for the night and they gave us directions to the one and only hotel atop the fort run by MTDC.

I always wanted to camp on the fort for the night, but with a strength of two, it’s a bad idea. So maybe someday when I come with a big group will keep this option open.  Which might never happen as, I always travel in a twos or threes company. LOL

A little bit of history of this fort.  In 1656 A.C. Chhatrapati Shivaji took charge of Raigad Fort from Jawali’s Chandrarrao More. The Marathas ruled it from the 12th to 15th century. The Maratha’s lost the charge of the fort in 1436 A.C. after beaten by Bahamani King Alluddin Shaha II. Later on in 1479 A.C. and 1636 A. C. AhmadNagar’s Nijam and Vijapur’s Aadilshaha ruled respectively. Aadilshaha renamed the fort as ‘Islam gad’ and hand over the charge of the fort to Siddi of Janjira. In 1674 Shivaji Maharaj made this fort his capital and was coronated King at this place.

Rajyabhishek (crowning ceremony of King Shivaji) is an important event in the History of India and is held in the month of June each year and attracts a huge number of travelers and followers of Shivaji Maharaj.

Shivaji's Palace
Raigad Fort is located around 2850 feet high from the sea level. There are around 1737 (a rough figure) steps leading to the fort. In April 1680, the King Shivaji passed away and Aurangzeb took charge after beating Shivaji’s son Chhatrapati Sambhaji. Chhatrapati Shahu’s army re conquered the fort in 1734 and ruled over it till 1758. The British latter attacked on Raigad Fort in 1818 and destroyed most of structures including King Shivaji’s and Queen’s palaces. Now what stands atop the fort are just ruins which stack plenty of history.

Guides are available at cheap costs, as low as Rs.100 to show the main points on the fort. But we planned to explore the fort in entirety and so decided to skip the services of the guide.

We had Misal and tea at the MTDC hotel at a whopping price of Rs. 172.  Too high a price to pay for breakfast and as it was the only hotel there; they do have a monopoly on the prices. But do remember that breakfast is served post 8 am in the morning and tea is served all day long at Rs.20 a cup. Tea is served from the vending machine. The hotel also offers choices in biscuits, cold drinks and ice cream to choose from.
Throne of Shivaji Maharaj
The hotel is situated very close to the MTDC rooms available on the Fort and the ropeway leading down to the base village below. The price of one way ropeway is Rs. 110 and return journey is Rs. 175. It takes 4 ½ minutes to reach the base village. Shortest travel time.  Please note that the ropeway operates based on the passengers taking its services and that there are no timings for the same.

Tickets to the fort are available at both the entry points of the fort being the ropeway and the Maha Darwaza, it costs Rs. 5 for Indians and Rs. 100 for foreigners. No charge for Still Camera and Rs.25 charge for video cameras.

Most parts of the fort are in ruins and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has done a pretty good job in maintaining what remains of the fort.
Nagarkhana Darwaza
There are plenty of places to see atop the fort , a few of them are Maha Darwaza, Chit Darwaza,  Hirkani Burj , Lahandarwaja, Palakhi Darvaja , Nagarkhana Darwaza, Mena Darwaza, Queens Palace and Shivaji Maharaj Palace, Palanquin Gate,  Gangasagar Talav, Bazaarpeth, Samadhis of Shivaji Maharaj and his Dog Waghya, Beautifully carved Twin Watch Towers and Jagdishwar Temple. Though sign boards were missing at a few places.

We walked through the ruins on the fort. Though what stands now are just walls with loads of history stacked in between them. Had we taken the services of the guides, am dam sure we would have heard unique stories about these historical monuments.

We located an Indian style toilet on the premises, the second one after Lohgad Fort.  See photo attached. We were wondering where the other end of this hole led too.

Indian Style toilet atop the fort
The Jagdishwar Temple is beautifully carved. Though from a distance it looked like a Masjid to me, I was taken aback when I came to know it was a Temple. The temple featured Islamic architecture. In its premises is the stone statue of Nandi Bull.

There are ruins of what I believe are houses all over the fort.
Structures a top the fort
Please note that lemon water, butter milk and cold drinks are available at small joints put up by the villagers all over the place. We patronized a few stalls for quench our thirst for a glass of lemon water for Rs10 for two.

The highest most point of the fort offers a jaw dropping view of the other hill ranges nearby, the villages and the valleys below and off course the fortification of the fort.  We located a bunch of kids hanging around a cave in its premises and tried to reach there, but sadly we got lost down the way in the wilderness and had to return back to the main road.
Jagdishwar Temple
I located just two cannons on the fort premises that too near the walls of the fort.  Finally after walking for 4 ½ hours we explored the entire fort.  

We finally reached the main entrance or the Maha Darwaza. We met a bunch of school children here who had also come to view the fort. I lost count of the no. as there were two many of them flanked by their teachers.  They gave us company while getting down from the fort. The children had carried food and water to have on the fort.
Shivaji's Samadhi
In an hour’s time we were at the bottom of the fort. i.e. Pachad Naka where we had lunch in the form of Egg Thali for Rs. 182 for two.

Had our full and again we were on a prowl to see some more historical monuments.  It was around 14:30 hours and the sun’s rays were the harsh. The weather hot as hell but that didn’t dampen us from exploring the Jijamata Wada.  Ten minute walk from here lead is to Jijamata Wada again an ASI protected monument. The Wada almost looked like a mini fort on the ground. Fortification as good as that of Raigad Fort. From the Wada the Fort was clearly visible.  The Wada had ruins of broken down houses all over the place. It took us around 30 minutes to see this place. The good news is that parts of the Wada are being reconstructed to restore it to its past glory.
Samadhi of Shivaji's Dog, Waghya
We then walked ahead for around 30 minutes in the hot scorching sun to locate the Jijamata Samadhi. But no sign of the same. At Pachad Naka there is a board stating that it is around 1 km from there and we walked for at least 3 km but no sign about the same.  Finally we met two localities’ on cycles who advised us that the Samadhi is around the corner. Finally we reached the Samadhi.

The Samadhi is enclosed in a garden and is quite a peaceful place. Here lies the Samadhi of the Mother of Shivaji. The Greatest Ruler Maharashtra ever had. We paid our respects here and then headed off to Pachad Naka from where we were planning to board a bus to Mahad. As always the ST buses are unpredictable L we then boarded a rickshaw at Rs. 50 for two that landed us at Mahad Bus Station.
The time was now 5 pm and there was no sign of a bus to Mumbai. Finally after making a few enquires we were informed that there is a bus at 6:30 pm to Mumbai. This was our only hope to take us to Mumbai.

We finally managed to board the bus and got a place to sit in the bus also. Woohoo. The ticket cost us Rs. 152. I guess the ticket prices differ from conductor to conductor as we were charged Rs. 130 to reach here from Mumbai. Never mind the ticket price at least we are in a bus heading to Mumbai. Finally at 10:45 pm we were in Dadar. From where we departed to our homes.
Jijamata Wada
I enjoyed my trek to Raigad Fort. It was an easy trek as there were steps to climb up and down the fort so it didn’t put much pressure on my knees and legs. Thank God. But what I liked most about it is that there are plenty of ruins atop the fort that give me a feel like I was living in that era. Also have to mention that the ASI is doing a good job in maintaining and renovating this place.
Jijamata Samadhi
Thus ends my trek to Raigad Fort. See ya soon, on a different trek after all there are many more to conquer.  


Unknown said...

I was actually thinking of visiting Raigad fort during our Maharashtra trip. My friends really want to check out this beautiful fort especially because of it’s powerful history. It was a one of the most crucial fort during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj. Merwyn thanks for sharing.


Priti Singh , the pleasure is all mine

Poonam said...

Mahad is a popular sightseeing attraction situated near the city of Raigad. For tourist attaractions, there are many places to visit in mahad so that the next time you can plan your holiday there.


Tha ks Poonam,
We did visit Sav hot water springs and Ganharpale Caves in Mahad and they were beautiful. Will be uploading the post shortly

Indrani said...

That is interesting. I had read about it in Amar Chitra Katha - Shivaji's story. Great to see the pics.

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