Shivaji Maharaj, Maharashtra’s greatest warrior king known for his excellent military and guerilla warfare, is often cited as Maharashtra’s pride. His well-executed administration along with strategic planning, led him to a road of victories. He was the pioneer of building India’s first-ever navy to protect Maharashtra’s coast. Adulated for his tactical governance, disciplined military, kindness and high respect for women, Shivaji Maharaj was attributed to have had a control of almost 360 forts in his reign in Marathwada.
As you meander through the Western Ghats and the Konkan Coast, you will see mountains crowned with fortifications and beautiful fortresses floating over the Arabian Sea. Most of them lay neglected and unattended. Pledge to take care of these forts as they are all Maharashtra’s pride. Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha, Garja Maharashtra Majha.
The first feather on his royal crown, Torna was Shivaji’s premiere conquest at the young age of 16. Having rechristened it to Prachandgad, Shivaji Maharaj constructed monuments on its massive spread.
After scaling a steep cliff and fighting a brutal battle against the Mughals, Tanaji Malusare lost his life. His brother took charge and won over the fort. Grieving this loss, Shivaji Maharaj remorsefully said, “Gad aala, pan Sinha gela” – We won the fort, but lost the lion. This explains the name and its importance in the pages of Maratha history.
An epoch-making fort in the history of Maharashtra, Raigad was the capital of the Maratha Empire. It was here that the royal coronation of Shivaji Maharaj as the official king of the Maratha Empire took place. Although the fort was purloined and wrecked by the Britishers in 1818, much of its glory still remains. Shivaji Maharaj breathed his last in this fort.
A 17th century fort, Shivneri is the birthplace of Shivaji Maharaj. The fort carries small temple of Goddess Shivai Devi after whom he was named.
A beautiful and an impregnable sea fort, Vijaydurg is considered one of Shivaji’s best victories. Used as an anchor for Maratha warships, Vijaydurg is encircled by the Waghotan creek.
Once a powerful naval base for the Maratha Kingdom, this sea fort now remains a beautiful history. It impregnates the only temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj and also preserves his footprints. It is a popular tourist destination and ferries are available to reach this place.
The erstwhile capital of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Maharaj made many commandments and led history-defining moments from here. He spent almost 26 years of his life here. The fort has seen many epoch-making events like the burial of Afzal Khan's head, the birth of Shivaji's son Rajaram, the death of Shivaji's Queen Saibai, and the return of Shivaji from Agra.
Pratapgad is famous for the encounter between Shivaji and the mighty Afzal Khan. It was here that Shivaji’s true reign began after he defeated Afzal Khan, making this fort one of the most important events in the Maratha history.
Having conquered this fort twice by Shivaji Maharaj, Lohagad held its prime importance due to its strategic location. The trade route to Khandala was guarded from here.
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Author: Winnie Karnik