Raigad Fort

Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

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Raigad is a hill fort situated in the Mahad, Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj built this fort and made it his capital in 1674 when he was crowned as the King of a Maratha Kingdom which later developed into the Maratha Empire, eventually covering much of western and central India.

The fort rises 820 metres (2,700 ft) above the sea level and is located in the Sahyadri mountain range. There are approximately 1737 steps leading to the fort. The Raigad Ropeway, an aerial tramway exists to reach the top of the fort in 10 minutes. The fort was looted and destroyed by the British after it was captured in 1818.

Major Features

The Raigad Fort was built by "Chandrarao More" of Jawali and the chief architect/engineer was "Hiroji Indulkar". The main palace was constructed using wood, of which only the base pillars remain. The main fort ruins consist of the queen's quarters, six chambers, with each chamber having its own private restroom. In addition, Ruins of three watch towers can be seen directly in front of the palace grounds out of which only two remain as the third one was destroyed during a bombarding. The Raigad Fort also has ruins of a market which was accessible to riders sitting on horses. The fort also overlooks an artificial lake known as the Ganga Sagar Lake.

The only main pathway to the Fort passes through the "Maha Darwaja" (Huge Door). The Maha Darwaja has two huge bastions on both sides of the door which are approximately 65–70 feet in height. The top of the fort is 600 ft higher from the location of this door.

The fort has a famous wall called "Hirakani Buruj" (Hirkani Bastion) constructed over a huge steep cliff. The legend goes "that a woman by the name of Hirakani from a nearby village had come to sell milk to the people living at the fort. She happened to be inside the fort when the gates got closed and locked past sunset. Hearing the cries of her infant son back at the village echo after nightfall, The anxious mother couldn't wait till dawn and courageously climbed down the steep cliff in pitch dark all due to the love for her little one. She later repeated this extraordinary feat in front of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and was bravely rewarded for it." In appreciation of her courage and bravery, Shivaji Maharaj built the Hirkani Bastion over this cliff.

The King's (Durbar) inside the Raigad Fort has a replica of the original throne that faces the main doorway called the Nagarkhana Darwaja. This enclosure had been acoustically designed to aid hearing from the doorway to the throne. A secondary entrance, called the Mena Darwaja, was supposedly the private entrance for the royal ladies of the fort that lead to the queen's quarters. The convoy of the king and the king himself used the Palkhi Darwaja. To the right of Palkhi Darwaja, is a row of three dark and deep chambers. Historians believe that these were the granaries for the fort.

From the fort, one can view the execution point called Takmak Tok, a cliff from which sentenced prisoners were thrown to their death. This area has been fenced off.

The statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is erected in front of the ruins of the main market avenue that leads to the Jagdishwar Mandir and his own Samadhi and that of his loyal dog named Waghya. The Samadhi of Jijabai Shahaji Bhosale, Shivaji's mother, can be seen at base village of Pachad.

Additional famous attractions of the fort include the Khubladha Buruj, Nane Darwaja and the Hatti Talav (Elephant Lake).

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