Monday, 8 September 2014

Monsoon trip to Raigad Fort – King of Forts

I have been to the Raigad fort twice for a day trip but had never explored the entire fort. In this monsoon, a 2 day trip to the Raigad fort was on my wish list. I along with my family planned a trip to Raigad considering the long weekend of Ganesh visarjan. It was our post monsoon trek. There was no sign of rain on day one but faced cloudy rainy weather on the second day. We booked a room in Raigad hotel which is owned by the rope way operator.

Shivaji Maharaj
Shivaji Maharaj ki JAY...!!!

Travellers for Raigad trip were me, Renuka (wife) and my parents.

About Raigad Fort:
                 Raigad is a hill fortress situated near Mahad, in Raigad district. It was known as the mountain of “Rairi” before it was captured by Shivaji Maharaj. European historians have described it as 'The Gibraltar of the East'. On 6th April 1656, Shivaji Maharaj besieged Rairi and captured it in May. Then Subhedar of Kalyan was transporting the treasure of Adilshah to Bijapur, which was raided by Marathas and utilized to fortify Raigad. It became the capital of Shivaji's kingdom.
               Raigad Fort has been a witness of significant events such as Shiv Rajyabhishek (The Coronation ceremony of Shivaji Maharaj – The Auspicious day was 6th June 1674, Saturday), 24th September 1674 Shivaji Maharaj underwent another ceremony of coronation for the commoners, 4th February 1675 Sambhaji Maharaj’s thread ceremony and 16 February 1681, Sambhaji became the crowned king of Maratha Empire. On 3rd April 1680, Shivaji Maharaj passed away on this fort, which was the most devastating moment witness by Raigad.
               Aurangzeb started his conquest of Raigad in 1684 but failed and returned in 1685. Zulfikar khan attacked on Raigad in 1689. On 5th April Rajaram (King after Sambhaji and Son of Shivaji Maharaj) escaped to Pratapgad. Finally, on 3rd November 1689, Mughals captured Raigad due to unfaithful Suryaji Pisal. They renamed the fort as Islamgad. Marathas regained it on 5th June 1733. In 1818 the fort was bombarded and destroyed by British Raj. Some people say (No evidence is available) that the royal fort was burning for 11 days.
              The fort was called by 15 different names at different times – Raigad, Rairi, Islamgad, Nandadeep, Jambudweep, Tanas, Rashivata, Badenur, Raigiri, Rajgiri, Bhivgad, Reddi, Shivlanka, Rahir and Gibraltar of the east.

There are 2-3 ways to reach to the fort from Pune. One is via Varandha Ghat, whereas another route is Pune – Chadani chowk - Tamhini Ghat – Mangaon – Take left before Mahad – Pachad village – Rope way base station. If you are planning a trip to Raigad during post monsoon time then I will suggest you to go by third route which is Pune - Tamhini Ghat – Nijampur - take left at Nijampur and then base village Pachad. This route is blessed with nature’s beauty during monsoon or in post monsoon. However, currently the condition of the road is poor near Pachad village.

Waterfall at Tamhini

Waterfall near Raigad
Waterfall near Raigad

7th Sept 2014: Trip to Raigad (Total Distance traveled: 160 km):
               We woke up by 5.30 AM and left home at 7:00 AM. We chose the route via Mangaon. It was a cloudy weather and rain welcomed us in Tamhini Ghat. We took a pit stop for breakfast at Hotel Quick Bite. It was a pleasant journey till Raigad base village. When we reached at the base village, soft sun light played its best role to unfold nature’s beauty in front of us. Even though it was a Sunday, there were hardly any tourists due to Ganesh festival. Waiting time for rope way was just 15 minutes. Raigad rope way is Maharashtra’s first rope way project which was completed in 1996. It traverses a diagonal length of 760 meters and a height of 420 meters. It takes you on the top in just 3-4 minutes. The rope way ride offers you a beautiful view of the Sahyadri Mountains and nearby villages.

Raigad rope-way
Raigad rope-way

Raigad ropeway
Raigad rope way and Base village

             We reached on the top by 12 noon. Raigad rope way hotel is located near the rope way station. We checked-in and ordered Pithale bhakri for lunch. Soon we went out to explore the fort. On day one, we decided to explore Balekilla and Tak Mak Tok point. As I was aware of the history of the fort and the locations very well, I became the guide for my family. The starting point of our tour was the Mena Darwaja – the entrance through which the royal ladies of the Fort would enter. It is the southern entry to the castle. After entering inside the fort from the Mena Darwaja, we saw Rani Wada (Queen’s Palace) on our left. There are six spacious houses for 6 queens of Maharaja. Shivaji Maharaj had 8 Queens; 6 Queens stayed on Raigad fort, whereas one at base village Pachad along with Jijabai (Mother of Shivaji Maharaj) and 1st queen Saibai died on Rajgad (before Raigad was built). Queen palaces have ruined large rooms with and bathroom system. 4 palaces are connected whereas last 2 palaces are separated by walls.

Mena Darwaja
Mena Darwaja

Queen's Palace
Queen's Palace

              We saw some ruined house like structures opposite to first queen palace. Some people say those were Prison cells whereas some say those were houses of royal warriors. There are 3 grain storage rooms on the right after entering from Mena Darwaja. We saw the Palkhi Darwaja before we moved into Raj Bhavan. Palkhi Darwaja is the north entrance to the castle and was mainly used by men to enter in the palace. The construction of the entrance and the 31 rock stairs are beautiful and look solid. You can see Sapt manzil (Pillars) which was used as watch tower. These pillars were said to be almost five storey high and seemed royal from the remaining carvings. There is small stair route inside the wall to enter in the palace. After watching these beautiful buildings, we went inside the Raj Bhavan. It was a beautiful massive palace of Shivaji Maharaj. It was said to be built of wooden structure, of which today only the base of pillars remain. You can see his room’s structure, bathrooms, office for discussion with his warriors etc. It was huge in size. We saw Ganga Sagar Lake from the Raj Bhavan. It was named Gangasagar because the waters from seven rivers of India which were brought for the coronation ceremony of Shivaji Maharaj were poured into this pond. This is the main source of drinking water today on the fort.

Houses of Royal warriors
Houses of Royal warriors

Grain storage
Grain storage

Palkhi Darwaja
Palkhi Darwaja

Raj bhavan - Mahajara's house area
Raj bhavan - Mahajara's house area

Raj bhavan - Office area
Raj bhavan - Office area

Ganga Sagar Lake
Ganga Sagar Lake

               After exploring Raj Bhavan for some time, we went in the Raj Sabha. It is a huge court on the fort which was used to address people. The huge building is around 220 ft. long and 125 ft. in width. The coronation ceremony was held in this place on 6th June 1674, Saturday. The throne of Shivaji Maharaj is kept in Raj Sabha facing east. The throne was made of 32 Maund of Gold (around 1280kn Gold) and studded with diamonds. There is huge shape entrance opposite to the throne known as Nagarkhana. It was the main entrance to the court, and as its name suggests, the loft on this building was used to play huge drums (Nagaare) during certain times in a day. Acoustically the Raj Sabha was designed in such way that you can hear low frequency sound at the throne from the Nagarkhana.

Throne of Shivaji Mahajara
Throne of Shivaji Mahajara

Nagarkhana
Nagarkhana

                  We move ahead to see statue of Shivaji Maharaj at Holi cha maal. It is a wide open ground, said to be used for annual Holi festival. You can see a famous statue of Shivaji Maharaj on this ground facing east direction. We took small break and then decided to go to Tak Mak Tok point. There are 2 ways to reach at that point. One is – take right after crossing Bazarpeth or take stairs on left before Bazarpeth. We decided to go by second route and while coming back, we saw Bazarpeth.

Statue of Shivaji Maharaj
Statue of Shivaji Maharaj

                As we were going towards Tak Mak tok, we saw a large size Lake on the left. It is known as Hatti Talaw (Elephant Lake). It was used for bathing the elephants from the fort. There was drain out system places in the lake. Whenever they wanted to clean the lake, then they just needed to remove 1 solid rock brick. Drain out system rock is now missing hence water can’t be stored in this lake. You can also see Maha Darwaja (Main entrance) on your right. It is a best architecture design and not to be missed if you’re on the fort. This entrance is typically a “Gomukhi” entrance protected by bastions Jai and Vijay. The attacking enemy cannot directly march on the door and face the bastions first.

Mahadarwaja (Main Entrance)
Mahadarwaja (Main Entrance)

Hatti Lake

               After walking along the fields and on narrow path, we reached near Tak Mak tok. There are 2 ruined buildings which were the Daru Kothar (Ammunition storage). Path to Tak Mak tok is quite interesting, a narrow path (with safe railing on both sides) facing North West having deep cliff on both side and strong winds playing around it makes it a major attraction for the trekkers. You should be careful while visiting this place. We went till the end point which offers breathtaking view of the Sahyadri Mountain ranges. This point was said to be used to throw the sentenced prisoners down the cliff.

Tak Mak Tok Point
Tak Mak Tok Point

              We spend some time at windy Tak Mak tok and enjoyed magnificent view. As weather was about to change its mood from a sunny day into cloudy weather, we decided to move back. Route to Bazarpeth (old Market area) was a bit slippery with sudden height gain; my parents got the feel of trek. Bazarpeth is huge well designed single storey complex of shops. This was the market place/trade center having shops on both sides separated by a 40 ft. road. There were 42 shop structures built in such a way that one can shop even while riding on a horse. Each shop has space to sell the goods, two rooms for storage and large passage behind two rooms. You can see drainage outlets at a few shops. Overall it’s a masterpiece construction.

Bazarpeth at Raigad fort
Bazarpeth at Raigad fort

               Heavy rain began in the evening and somehow we managed to reach at our hotel room by 6 PM. We had snacks and tea/coffee and took rest. We ordered dinner and it was delivered at the top by rope way at 8.30 PM. Now there was a drastic change in weather and we were in the clouds. Cold weather forced us to be in the room. Service by hotel staff was good. My parents were tired so they took rest whereas me and Renuka had a walk on the fort for some time. We were the only family on the fort along with the hotel and MTDC staff. It was a perfect day for us on Raigad fort.

Raigad Rop-way Hotel room

8th Sept 2014: Trip to Raigad (Total Distance traveled: 132 km):
               We woke up by 7 AM and still weather was too cloudy. It was not raining constantly but the visibility was not more than 25-30 ft. We had tasty breakfast and then left the room by 9.30 AM. Today was Anant Chaturthi (Ganesh Visarjan day) hence hardly any tourists were on the fort. We decided to visit some other places which are on off-beat route and day trip tourist always ignore it (except Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi (Memorial) and Jagdishwar temple) due to lack of time.
             Our first destination was Kushavarta Lake and Mahadev temple. Route to this place is from Holi cha maal but there is a short cut route available. For short cut, take narrow path route which is opposite to Raigad fort entry ticket office. After 5-7 min walk, you can see ruined old temple on your right. Lord Shiva’s idol is placed inside the temple as well as outside the temple. There is nice Lake named as Kushavarta Lake. You also see many ruined fortification on the route to Kushavarta Lake. It is supposed to be the houses on the fort.

Mahadev Temple
Mahadev Temple

Kushavarta lake, Raigad
Kushavarta lake

             After visiting the temple, we started our trail towards Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi (Memorial). We saw the market place again and reached at Jagdishwar Temple. It is big Shiva Temple with Nandi in the front. Entrance to the temple is from the back side. This temple is intact from Mughal or British attack. The outer court of the temple is about 128 ft. wide and 160 ft. long. Temple has beautiful Shiv Linga and tortoise carved on the floor. Behind Nandi, there is a front gate of temple. By stepping inside from the front gate, you can see letters carved on the second step. The meaning of these words is “Hiroji Italkar is at the service of" (Shivaji Maharaj). If you are facing Temple then check one stone with a message carved on left side that says “This majestic building of Jagdishwar which brings happiness to all is built on the word of Shivaji Maharaj on the auspicious muhurtam in Hindu year of 1596. The architect by name Hiroji built all wells, ponds, gardens, roads, pillars, monuments and palaces. These will remain till the sun and moon are there in the skies”

Jagdishwar Temple
Jagdishwar Temple

Nandi outside Temple
Nandi outside Temple

                 Before I write something about Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi (Memorial), I would like to share information about Bartake. It is a 12 water trench placed at one place. It was the drinking water supply of the fort. Route to these water trenches is – take left path from outside of the temple. Cross all the huts and walk towards left. You will reach a wall like structure, Take left after that ruined building. Descend few meters and then you will see 12 water trenches. Better to avoid in monsoon period. We visited this place after Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi.

Route to Bartaake Tank
Route to Bartaake (12 Water tanks)

             The Samadhi was built near the temple entrance. Behind the Samadhi, we can see the statue of a dog on a pedestal. It was Shivaji maharaja’s faithful dog ‘Waghya’ who committed suicide jumping into the funeral pyre when Shivaji was cremated. Some people say there is no evidence in history whereas few believe this story strongly. Currently dispute is in the court and the area is sealed.

Statue of Waghya dog
Statue of Waghya dog

               Shivaji Maharaj passed away on the 15th day of first month in the year 1602 of Hindu calendar (April 3rd 1680). The memorial is octagonal and the porch is made from black stones. The base is hollow inside, where the ashes of Shivaji Maharaj are kept. Our Raigad visit came to an end after bowing our head at Samadhi.
प्रौढ प्रताप पुरंदर,
क्षत्रिय कुलावतंस,
सिंहासनाधीश्वर,
राजाधिराज महाराज
श्री छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज की जय!!!

Shivaji Maharaj's samadhi (Memorial)
Shivaji Maharaj's samadhi (Memorial)

                We came to our room by 3 PM after lunch at a house behind the Samadhi area. We left this massive beautiful historical fort by rope way. Raigad is a must visit fort and a place to remember the greatest Maratha King. For return journey, we preferred Pachad – Nijampur road which is blessed with nature’s beauty. This is offbeat route so avoid night journey. We reached home by 7.30 PM safely ending a pleasurable trip in monsoon.

Our Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 1500/- (approx. 18 lit at INR 79/lit)
  • One night stay at Raigad ropeway hotel: INR 1300/- for 4 person.
  • Breakfast at quick bite hotel: As per order
  • Car Parking at Raigad: INR 80/- for 2 days
  • Ropeway (Return ticket): INR 180/- per person and INR 115/- senior citizen
  • Pithale bhakari Lunch plate: INR 45/- per plate (Pithale with 2 bhakari) + INR 20 per extra bhakari
  • Tea: INR 10/- per cup
  • Coffee: INR 15/- per cup
  • Veg meal for dinner: INR 75/- per plate
  • Misal-Pav: INR 50/-
  • Upama in breakfast: INR 30 per plate
  • Pithale bhakari on Monday lunch: INR 60 per plate (At local place)
  • Snacks at quick bite: As per order
Places we missed on fort due to bad weather:
  • Bhavani temple
  • Hirkani Buruj - Hirkani point is named after a brave woman by name “Hirkani”. She used to supply milk on the fort during the regime of Shivaji Maharaj. The doors to the fort would be opened at sunrise every day and would be closed at the sunset. Once she was late to return and the doors were closed. The love for her kid in the village compelled her to descend the fort from the side of western cliff, and she reached home successfully. The story spread through, and Shivaji Maharaj recognized her efforts and bravery by felicitating her. He also strengthened this part of the fort so that no one can ascend from here again.
  • Nana Darwaja – Entrance of fort
  • Wagh Darwaja - Route to escape in case the fort was captured. This is the route from where Rajaram Maharaj escaped when Zulfikar Khan attacked the fort.
Contact Number for reference:
  • Raigad ropeway stay a.k.a Millennium Raigad hotel: 020-25459730 / 020-25459735.
  • Ankesh for Guide or lunch: 9011784795

Road in Konkan, Raigad
Return journey to Pune - Happy Journey

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

18 comments:

  1. Very nice blog Pritesh....very well written.. Raigad is my favorite and after reading your blog feeling to visit it again...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your comment...
      Happy traveling.

      Delete
  2. Superb stuff dude.. Surely visiting there in oct / nov this yr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your comment...
      Happy traveling.

      Delete
  3. Need your mail id, want to contact you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please check your email ID my my contact details.
      Happy Traveling

      Delete
  4. All photographs are excellent. Whatever available in ruined state is also very inspiring. What would have been happened if it would have remained in good status; we are unfortunate this way.-GP Ghospurkar

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very Well written post, thoroughly enjoyed it and your clicks are also awesome. Raigad Fort is really amassing place. You can also check my post at Raigad Fort at http://www.touristsafari.com/forts/raigad-fort

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  6. Please tell me about the road conditions via tamini and via bhor. Which is better

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    Replies
    1. Tahmini ghat condition is much better than the bhor route...

      Delete
  7. hi,

    really well composed blog. very insighful about almost all of the fort region and expenses involved.

    needed to ask in a one day trip, can we see enough of the fort and come down via ropeway? also i will really appreciate if you can share the ropeway start and last trip timings.

    thanks in advance.

    Prashant Komnak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment
      To be frank, it is not possible to cover 100% fort in a day BUT yes, you can see all impotent places.
      Rope way starts at 7AM whereas last rope way from Fort is leaves at 5.30PM. If you missed it then on request you can come down but you have to pay extra.

      Delete
  8. DEAR PRITESH,
    Will it be ok If I would like to visit the fort in this month of July with family, two small children?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,
      Yes you can visit Raigad in July or August month. Till August end, Fort is always covered with heavy rain clouds duw to which you will not be able to see valley views or other mountain ranges from Raigad.
      You can enjoy the monsoon weather and able to view fortification for sure.

      Regards,
      Pritesh

      Delete
  9. Blog is very good.but is there ropeway working in rainy season

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, Rope-way is working in rainy season

      Delete
  10. Nice article.. Planning to visit this weekend 1 Sep and explore nearby area like Shivtharghal, Gandharpale Budhist Caves. Map https://www.google.co.in/maps/dir/Raigad+Ropeway+Station,+Gherakilla+Raigad,+Maharashtra/Gandharpale+Budhist+Caves,+Pale,+Maharashtra/Ganpati+Mandir,+Mahad,+Maharashtra/Shivthar+Ghal,+Kasabe+Shivtar,+Maharashtra/@18.160217,73.4408639,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m26!4m25!1m5!1m1!1s0x3be828472811800d:0xbfe13c4e26207ec8!2m2!1d73.4401959!2d18.2318388!1m5!1m1!1s0x3be82b3070a03945:0x198c38ca0f3a23c2!2m2!1d73.4041622!2d18.0868295!1m5!1m1!1s0x3be82ad5f13e30ad:0xf4b92ac843c7292c!2m2!1d73.4184585!2d18.082142!1m5!1m1!1s0x3bc2864e99b1a3c7:0x9ec0a5c7e2cbb5bf!2m2!1d73.6227094!2d18.1476369!3e0?hl=en

    ReplyDelete