Thursday, 3 June 2010

Forts of Konkan 27 : Fort Raigad किल्ले रायगड

Raigadwadi, Tal. Mahad, Dist. Raigad
869 m. Altitude m.

Things to see:
The fort is full of remnants of structures in the capital of Shivaji and his Government. There are queen's quarters with total six chambers. The main palace remains only in the form of its pillars as it was originally built of wood. In front of the palace there are three watch towers and a lake called Gangasagar Lake. Takmak Tok is also near to this place. It is high cliff and sometimes prisoners with death penalty were thrown from this point. There are ruins of the market which are stalls constructed on higher base and one could shop while sitting on horse back. Near to the market there is one statue of Shivaji Maharaj and his dog whose name was Waghya. The market path leads to one end to Jagadeeshwar Temple and tomb of Shivaji.
The main doorway is called Nagarkhana Darwaja and in front of it there is replica of Shivaji's throne at the site where main Darbar was held. The enclosure has such acoustical design that from this place one could here things from Nagarkhana Darwaja. Outside Nagarkhana there is Holicha Mal, a ground used for ceremonies during Holi festival and a temple of the deity of the fort called Shirkai. A second doorway called Mena Darwaja opens up near Queen's quarters and used by the royal ladies. There are some other doorways as well. One is Palkhee Darwaja which was used by the king and other members of the royal family. Near Palkhee Darwaja there are three dark chambers which might have been used as granaries. The other is Mahadarwaja and was used by the general public. There is a group of water tanks on the fort which is known as Bar Tanki. A temple of Rameshwar and Wagh Darwaja are some more attractions on the top of the fort.
From the top of the fort one gets the views of Sahyadri on the east and includes forts of Lingana, Rajgad, Torana. Towards south eastern direction one can see the Makarandgad and Pratapgad whereas towards south west one can see Chandragad and Mangalgad.
The base of the hill is at the village of Pachad. There is Chit Darwaja and the old way to the fort starts at this place and there are steps built all along the way up. The way goes via Khoobladha Buruj, a bastion which was used as first protection against the enemy, to the Maha Darwaja. Near Khubladha Buruj there is a cave called Waghbeel.
There is a museum and information centre maintained by the trust which also runs the ropeway and it is at the base of the fort.
The fort was earlier known as Rairi and was in the hands of Chandrarao More of Javli who was a feudal ruler of the area under the Sultanate of Bijapur. Shivaji won this fort from them in the year 1656 and named it as Raigad and made it capital of his empire. All the construction on the fort was either newly constructed or renovated by Hiroji Indulkar who was the main architecht and overseer of the work undertaken. A stone inscription about this work is found on the temple of Jagadeeshwar. Throning ceremony of Shivaji took place on the fort in the year 1674 and he was officially declared as King eventhough he had started his complete autonomous rule many years before that. The fort was won by Mughals after the death of Shivaji on 3rd November 1689 who then handed it over to the Siddi of Janjira. The fort was again won by army of Peshavas lead by Appaji Hari. The fort was lost to British when they took control of Peshavas in 1818. However the fort had to be won by war as the in charge of the fort and Maratha forces in the surrounding areas did not surrender. It was won on the 10th May 1818. Then British did lot of destruction of the fort and the site went into negligence till Lokmanya Tilak brought it again into light on 25th April 1896 by celebrating first public ceremony in Shivaji's memory on the fort. Some research from the archaeological angles and excavations have been undertaken on the fort during 1885 and then in 1974.

The fort is served by Raigad ropeway which has made journey to the fort very easy to anybody who wish to visit the fort. A lot of ceremonies, workshops and camps are held by various groups and organisations of trekkers and history enthusiasts on the fort.

Nearby attractions:
Mahad town has famous Chavdar Tale (lake), the site for Satyagraha of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and ancient Buddist caves of Gandharpale. Pachad village which has small fortress where Jijabai, Shivaji's mother used to live during her old age.

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,

Mahad Raigad
Tamhini Ghat
Parking facilities are available at Ropeway base and Raigad wadi.

By public transport:
Mahad is connected by direct buses from Mumbai, Goa, Pune, Kolhapur. ST buses, shared and specially hired auto-rikshaws are available from Mahad to go to Raigad.

Nearby Places for stay:
Raigad ropeway operators maintains a tourist lodging and boarding facilities at the base of the fort. There is an accommodation facility operated by MTDC on the top of the fort.