Sunday, 17 December 2017

Pratapgad Fort: Mahabaleshwar

We visited Mahabaleshwar multiple times but never able to visit Beautiful Pratapgad Fort. we planned a separate trip to Fort and went on Pratapgad. Fort holds a very important position in history due to the great battle of Pratapgad between Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan won by Shivaji Maharaj.
Travellers for this trip were I and Renuka.

Pratapgad Fort
Pratapgad Fort
About Pratapgad Fort:
              Pratapgad fort is located 20-22km from Mahabaleshwar. The Fort is 3540 ft above sea level. It was built 1656 by Moropant Trimbak Pingle who was a loyal Prime minister under King Shivaji. The main purpose of the fort in order to defend the banks of the Nira and the Koyna rivers, and to defend the Par pass.
              Pune to Pratapgad is a 3 to 3.30 hours’ drive. Best way to reach Mahabaleshwar is Pune – National highway 4 – After 75 km journey on NH4 Take right at Surul – Wai – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar - Pratapgad. There are many signboards which guide you to Mahabaleshwar and at all tourist points.

GPS Location: 17.933032, 73.580706

18 December 2017: Pune - Pratapgad - Pune
              We left Pune by 7 AM. Without taking any pit stop, we reached Pratapgad fort base by 10 AM. NH-4 highway is now extended up to 6 lanes highway. Apart from few patches between Wai Phata and Wai, rest of road is in good condition.
                Limited car parking is available at the base. The Road on the left side of parking goes to the steps of the Fort. After climbing few steps, we reached Mahadarwaja (Main Entrance) which is built between two bastions. There are 2 small rooms which were used by guards. One of the Guardroom has Cannon.

Tehani Buruj

             Take right side route after crossing Mahadarwaja for Tehani Buruj (Watchtower). This is the famous bastions which always shown in Pratapgad fort's photo. It was used to keep a close watch on the nearby valley. Watchtower offers you a beautiful breathtaking valley view. You can see Fort view from this bastion as bastion lies on the lower part of the fort. After spending some time on Bastion, we returned towards entrance gate. There are steps which take you to the upper part of the Fort. You can see the Lake on your right side while climbing the steps. This Lake is known as Rahat Lake. There are total 4 lakes on the fort.

Pratapgad Fort
Pratapgad Fort

Lake at Pratapgad Fort

              We went to the top of fort first where Status of Shivaji Maharaj is mounted on the horse with a sword in his right hand. Status was unveiled by late Jawaharlal Nehru (Prime mister). As per locals, this place was used to be a palace of Shivaji Maharaj. This point is a topmost point fort also known as Bale Killa.
              We settle down here and had a good discussion on the fort history. Whenever we visit any fort, we love to read/discuss on the fort and about its history. It gives you different perception to explore the fort. This was the Hill known as "Bhorpya" which was used as a watchtower. Shivaji Maharaj captured the place and ordered to construct the fort. Fort was built under Shivaji Maharaja's Prime minster 'Moropant Pingle'. During Maratha emperor, Prime minister was recognized as Peshwa. Fort came into limelight due to Battle between Maharaj and Afzal Khan.
              Afzal Khan was strongest and powerful warrior from Adilshah emperor. He was ordered to capture or kill Shivaji Maharaj by Adilshah Sultan. He came along with 20000 cavalries, more than 15000 infantry, 1500 gun army, 15000 Khan's personal army, 100+ elephant base army, 1000+ camel base army and 150+ canons for battle (Count varies in different books). Shivaji Maharaj was in Pune at that time and he knew that defeating around Pune not possible hence he moved to Pratapgad. Considering Pratapgad and nearby hill terrain, Afzal's most of the army was useless in battle. He settles down in Wai as he was aware of wai area.
              Shivaji offered meeting at the base of Pratapgad which was agreed by Afzal Khan. He agreed with one condition that meeting will take place with few armed bodyguards and leader without any weapons. The meeting was scheduled for 10 November 1659. Afzal Khan joins the meeting place with Katyar (Small sword) hidden under a cloth. Shivaji Maharaj was aware the intention of Khan and he wears protective armor under clothes. Also, Shivaji Maharaj carried weapon Vagh Nakh (Weapon looks like Tiger claws made up of sharp iron) for self-defense.
              During the meeting, Afzal gave tight hug to Maharaj and struck him with a small sword. Shivaji Maharaj was saved by armor. As counter attach, Maharaj attack Khan with Wagh Nakh. Injured Khan ran out of Tent (Meeting place) for help. Sayyad Banda (Khan's bodyguard) attacked Shivaji Maharaj but Jiva Mahala (Shivaji's Bodyguard) intervened and chopped Sayyad Banda's hand by the sword. This event remembered in Marathi as "Hota Jiva Mhanun vachala Shiva" which means because of Jiva, Shiva lived.

Pratapgad Fort

              Afzal Khan went in Palkhi (non-wheel Vehicle to carry leader) but Palkhi lifters were attached by Shivaji's bodyguard Sambhaji Kavji. He killed Afzal Khan. After war, Shivaji Maharaj sent Afzal Khan's head to Rajgad to show it to Jijabai (Shivaji Maharaj's mother) as Shahaji Raje (Father of Shivaji Maharaj) was captive of Afzal Khan and Afzal played the main role to kill Sambhaji (Elder son of Shahaji Raje, Do not confuse with Sambhaji Maharaj as he was son of Shivaji Maharaj. Same name was used in multiple generations)
               After Afzal's death, Shivaji Maharaj gave a sign (By lighting cannons) to attack Afzal's army. quick action by Shivaji's army and without Afzal Khan, his army fail to fight. Adilshah lost too many armies (more than 13000) which was a major set back to his emperor. Shivaji Maharaj won many weapons, cannons, horse, elephant, camel, stored gains, and money. All captured war of prisoners were sent back to Bijapur with proper respect. This remarkable victory made Shivaji Maharaj hero in the emperor and famous as great mind warrior within India at that time. Shivaji also buried Afzal Khan as per Islamic customs and built his tomb near Pratapgarh, as per his philosophy of ‘once the enemy is dead, the enmity is dead too’.
              We left the Status to explore remaining part of the Fort. We visited Keshawraj temple which is located on Bale Killa. There is small place opposite to temple which is known as Sadar. A place built for important meeting and discussions.
              After Climbing down, we visited Bhavani Temple. Idol was curved from the rock which was brought from the convergence point of three rivers namely; Trishul Gandaki, Shwet Gandaki, and Saraswati. Temple also have Shivpindi made up of transparent crystal stone. you can see small cannons from Maratha emperor kept in temple campus. There is a sword of the warrior Hambirrao Mohite, over which his name is engraved along with a sign of ‘6 Star’. (One Star was awarded to a person who kills 100 enemy soldiers).

Bhavani Mata temple

Small Cannons at Bhavani temple

              There is Hastakala Kendra shop for handicraft product. View of Tehani Buruj (Watchtower bastion) is beautiful. After a quick visit to the shop, we took a lunch break at hotel Rasoi. It is opposite side of Bhavani temple entrance. You can have a tasty Maharashtrian meal here along with the fort view.

Lunch Time

Tasty Meal

                We left beautiful fort after lunch. At the base of the fort, you can see Tomb of Afzal Khan and his faithful bodyguard, Sayyed Banda. Due to some political issue, entry to visit this place is banned. There are Hastakala Kendra handicraft shop and miniature village which takes you into Maratha emperor era.

              We visited Mahabaleshwar market for some quick shopping and then tasty Strawberry with cream as dessert in Bagicha ice cream parlor. As we wanted to spend our evening time at table land, we proceed to Panchgani for Tableland. It is 2nd longest mountain plateau in Asia.We were least interested in riding so we had a nice walk on tableland. We spend sunset time together on tableland and then left Panchgani.

Tableland at Panchgani

  • Car Petrol: INR 1500/-
  • NH-4 return Toll: INR 130/-
  • Pachgani pollution tax: INR 50/- (For Car)
  • Pachgani Entry tax: INR 20/- per person (valid for 7 days)
  • Mahabaleshwar pollution tax: INR 30/- (For Car)
  • Mahabaleshwar Entry tax: INR 20/- per person (valid for 7 days)
  • Lunch: INR 345/- (Pithale-Vange Masala-Bhakari Thali at 100/-, Curd at 40/- and Extra Bhakari at 25/-)
  • Strawberry with cream: INR 120/-
We reached home safely by via same NH-4 route by 8.30 PM
I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Aga Khan Palace: Pune

Friends were requested me to start writing on places from Pune city. So People visiting Pune can get An idea about it. This is my first attempt to write blog on places to visit in Pune
We went to Aga Khan Palace in evening.

Aga Khan Palace (Clicked from iPhone)

Location: Pune Nagar Road, Kalyani Nagar, Pune 41104
GPS Location: 18.552708, 73.901510

About Aga Khan Palace:
Aga Khan Palace was built by Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III in 1892. He built this palace to create jobs to poor people from nearby villages. During 1890s nearby area was not considered as part of Pune city and highly affected by Drought.
Muhammad Shah Aga Khan was born in Karachi (Now part of Pakistan) Nizari Ismaili community.
Palace came into limelight due to Indian freedom movement when It served as Prison for Mahatma Gandhi, Wife Kasturba Gandhi, Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu.

Aga Khan Palace

Visit to Aga Khan Palace:
               We went to Aga Khan Palace by 3:30-4 PM. You can reach to Aga Khan palace by Public transport or by Auto or by Cab service. It is located on Nagar road highway which is easy to locate. This place is open from 9AM to 5:30PM. They stop selling entry tickets after 5PM. The place can be seen in less than Hour if you are not deeply interested in Indian History else it has potential to keep you busy for 2-3 hours. Photography is not allowed whereas you can click photos from Mobile Camera and no need to Pay for same.

Aga Khan Palace

             Construction of Palace began in the year 1887 and completed in 5 years. As I mentioned in the blog, construction of palace created jobs to Poor people from nearby Village. Few historical documents say that work employed 1000 people. It was built in Rs 12 Lakhs (in the year 1892). Total Area is 13 acres whereas palace was built on 7 acres of land. The rest area is well maintained Garden along with Small Canteen, Samadhi of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai.

Samadhi of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai

               Mahatma Gandhi, Wife Kasturba Gandhi, and secretary Mahadev Desai were captured and kept in Palace from 9 August 1942 to 6 May 1944 for Quit India Movement against British. Kasturba Gandhi and secretary Mahadev Desai died during the captivity. In 1969, Aga Khan Palace donated to Indian Government to open for all as a mark of respect to Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi's memorial where part of Ashes kept 

             The only ground floor of Palace is open for tourist. You can see a painting of Gandhi, Painting about there freedom journey and information. You can visit the rooms in which Mahadev Desai, Kasturba Gandhi were captured and kept. Their belongs are also kept for display. Last Room belongs to Mahatma Gandhi but it is closed and you can view through glass. Samadhi of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Gandhi is located in the Palace area. When Mahatma Gandhi died, part of his ashes was brought to the palace and built the memorial. The Palace has beautiful Garden to spend a good time.

Mahatma Gandhi's Room

Ticket rates:
Indian Nationality: INR 15/- per person
SAARC nation citizens (Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan): INR 15/- per person
BIMSTEC nation citizen (Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Bangladesh): INR 15/- per person
Foreign Nation: INR 200/- per person

Thanks for reading this travel Blog. Keep traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni