Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Trek to Raigad : King of all forts

Height: 2700 ft
Location: Mahad, Maharashtra, INDIA
Best time to visit would be through the year. From food, water and shelter everything is available on the top. 

Raigad fort, a Military stronghold during Shivaji Maharaja's era, resides near Mahad, Raigad district in Maharashtra. Towering to a height of 2700 ft. above sea level, it has a prominent place in Sahyadri Mountain Ranges. 

If you are going to do the walking to the top of the Fort, it will take you about an hour and half. Otherwise for  Lazy people and those who hate walking, there is a Ropeway that will take you up in less than 15 min. The real beauty is hidden along the walking trail, and cable-car misses out these aspects. 

In the mid February, when you are tied up with the lectures and practicals, and when the tight schedule is freaking you out, what you need is a mini-vacation that will refresh you and increase your working efficiency!! So managing the time a little bit,  I decided to join my uncles at Raigad, the then capital of Shivaji Maharaj. Though it was my 3rd visit to the Royal fort, it was this visit that was going to be on the blog. 

This trek wasn't a pre-planned or something like that. I got a call from my uncle at 4.30pm on saturday evening saying they were going to Raigad Fort for a quick visit and would be returning the next day. But I had to attend two wedding Receptions at two different places on the same saturday. I had to manage it all. Well, I did, and reached Ambernath station at 11.00pm where my uncle and the rest were waiting for me. We left at around 11.15pm in his Tata Sumo, very thrilled, as it was going to be a night drive!! 

We were finally on the Highway before crossing midnight, enjoying the darkness of night. And while watching the spooky roads on outskirts of town I realised I was on verge of sleep. At ~ 1.00am we stopped for Tea ( which was really good n tasty). And after staying awake for an hour I continued with my job. We reached pachad at 3.00am, a village to the base of Raigad Fort, and had to sleep inside the car until first hotel was opened. A breakfast at Hotel Deshmukh at 6.00am  helped us regain some power and at ~7.30am, we started off enjoying the Sahyadri Ranges, with the golden tops, bathing under morning sunlight. !! 

The fort reminds me of the Discovery show - The Extreme Engineering, which features futuristic and ongoing Engineering projects. But this 'project' was built way back in the year 1030 and fully upgraded during the Maratha Ruler Shivaji Maharaj in the year 1656 !!

Extreme Engineering : Raigad Fort
The Architect : Hiroji Indulkar ( of course, under the guidance of the great Shivaji)

Two birds in one shot( Purpose of Hatti TalaoBefore building any fort atop a mountain, first factor to be considered is availability of water throughout the year. Secondly, the prime need is the requirement of the rocks used in construction of  the fort. So the purpose of Hatti talao was to fulfill the second need, and in the end we have a lake filled with water ready to use!!! It is said that Elephants were washed here.

Hatti talao(lake)- 30 ft. deep!!
Maha Darwaza (Main Entrance): In any battle, a war is half-won once the Fort-gates are downed. Special war Elephants were used to break down the gates. A couple meters run-up is enough for the elephants to gain momentum to break it down. Taking these fatal risks into consideration, Shivaji Raje designed the Main entrance in such a way that only a 10 metre space was left in front of the door & a sharp  90deg. turn, which gave no room for Elephants to gather any momentum to strike the door!!!
हा महा-दरवाजा हस्ती-नखाच्या आकाराचा आहे. या दरवाजाच्या बाहेरील भागाला "जिभी" असे म्हणतात. या रचनेचे वैशिष्ट्य असे- शत्रूच्या हत्तीला जास्त जागा मिळत नाही (दरवाजाला धडक द्यायला). 
Similar door-construction can be found on Sudhagad fort. The main-door (while ascending from Dhondase village) has a similar हस्ती-नखाच्या and "जिभी".

रायगड चे २ बुलंद बुरुज 
Acoustics: As a king , it was Shivaji Maharajas duty to communicate freely with his people (or rather make his subjects communicate freely with the king ). So the Darbar was so designed that even a whispering of <20dB at a corner could be heard crystal clear from the throne. Don't back-talk ,talk freely in the court; was his intention. Truly a Jaanta Raja.


Motherly love (The story of Hirkani Buruj): As a story goes.....After sunset all the doors leading to the fort used to be closed and opened only on next morning. Hirkani was a milkmaid who daily brought milk to the fort & went home before sunset. One day she was late to reach the gate & sun was already down and the gates closed. It was up to the guards to follow the kings orders & not to open gates till sun was up. Desperate as she was, only problem she was facing was how to reach her helpless baby at the fort base. Only option left with her was of the steep slopes guarding the forts. With all her determination & will she climbed down the steep cliff, fighting the thorny bushes and the rough route, just to feed her baby in time!!! Next day, the guards were surprised to see her at the gates with a fresh can of milk;suspiciously they took her to the Shivaji Raje where she narrated the whole incident. Shivaji Maharaj not only praised her courageousness, but also ordered   his unit to construct a steep protective wall, and named it 'Hirkani Buruj'. 

A shot from base
courtesy- D90
This wall was built after the incident
Market place (Bazaar peth): 

It was said people used to shop here riding on the Horseback, without the necessity of getting down. Some counter this fact saying that these cubicles were residential buildings. On the fort, as secure as Raigad, there could be no such place dedicated for market, and allowing an outsider to do business here would prove vulnerable. Well, the fact is still unknown. 

The head of the Bazaar owned the shop with this carving
Other Miscellaneous Carvings/Sculptures :


The Incredible Sahyadris:

Courtesy D-90
It was a marvellous Trek to  the Capital of  Shivaji Maharaj and I didn't even get a slightest feeling that I had been here before !! I dunno why, the fort keeps on Refreshing from time to time!!

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