Standing as silent sentinels to history are the 350 odd forts of Maharashtra. Beaten by the sea waves, lashed at by the torrential Deccan rains, or scorched in the blazing sun, stand imposing ramparts and crumbling walls .... the last lingering memories of Maharashtra's martial times.
Nowhere in India would you encounter such a profusion of forts. And such variety. Sited on an island, as at Murud-Janjira or Suvarnadurg, or guarding the seas as at Bassein. Or up amidst the Sahyadris, as at Torna and Rajgad, whose ziz-zag walls and rounded bastions sit like a sceptre and crown amidst hills turned mauve.
Discover the Forts of Maharashtra
Most of the forts in Maharashtra, whether up on the Sahyadris, or near the seas, are associated with Shivaji, a great warrior, and an equally great fort builder. Shivaji embarked upon his career of uniting the locals against the Muslim suzerains by taking a fort-Torna - when the commander was away to escape the ferocious monsoon. He strengthed his conquest by setting up capital on the neighbouring massif, Rajgad, and soon embarked on a fort-capturing and fort-building spree.
Ajanta & Ellora
Pratapgad, immortalized by the `wagh-nakh' (tiger nails) tryst with Afzal Khan, and Raigad, where he was coronated, are just two of the mighty hill forts Shivaji himself built.
More than that, it was Shivaji who consciously taught the people to look upon forts with reverence and affection, and associate with them as one would with a mother.
Forts in Maharashtra are like mini-cities. Panhala, where you can yet view three large buildings called the Amberkhana - a granary with the capacity to store 50,000 maunds of corn - is now a hill-station.
Raigad, the capital which Shivaji built on a hill, has a mile-long market place and ruined stone houses which once accommodated over 2000 men.
Purandhar, which served as a capital for the nascent Maratha kingdom, now houses the National Cadet Corps Academy.
At Sindhudurg - a fort built by Shivaji with his own hands at a site personally selected by him people yet reside within the 48 acre area, enclosed by a two mile long wall, 12 ft. thick at some places.
The construction of many a fort along the Konkan-Malvan coast is credited to Shivaji, the architect of Sindhudurg. He built and strengthened fortifications on the coast with a view to protecting the outer flank of the state from invasions from the sea. The forts may have also provided safe hide-outs for quick pirate raids that the Marathas could have conducted on trade ships, to furbish their treasury. As many as 13 forts were developed by Shivaji on the coast-line, including Vijaydurg, rated as the perfect example of a great coastal fort.
Maharashtra's forts have myriad hues. Hues, changing and yet constant to the needs. They have been centres of asylum and prisons. Their steep faces have been scaled by the adventurous. Or, used for hurling down the treacherous. Coins have been minted, as at Raigad. Or stored, as at Sinhgad. New chapters in history have been written. And re-written.
Welcome to the forts of Maharashtra. Within their walls, throbs the heart-beat of history.
Information: Courtesy Government of India
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.