8 Forts That Prove Shivaji Maharaj Was The Greatest Ruler of Maratha Ever Had
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. Shivaji Maharaj was attributed to have had a control of almost 360 forts in his reign. Most of them lay neglected and unattended.
Torna Fort, Pune
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.
One of the must-visit forts in Pune, Torna Fort is also known as Prachandagad. It is situated at an elevation of 1,403 m above sea level, which makes it the highest hill fort in Pune. It is historically an important monument as it was the first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1643 when he was 16. With gorgeous towers and monuments built inside the fort, it certainly is a piece of architectural wonder.
Sinhagad Fort, Thoptewadi
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.
Shivneri Fort, Kusur
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.
Vijaydurg Fort, Vijaydurg
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.
Sindhudurg Fort, Malvan
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.
Raigadh Fort, Raigadh
Located at a height of 820 m, Raigadh Fort is perched on the lush green Sahyadri mountain range. Climbing 1737 steps will take you to the fort, which offers spectacular views of the valley down below. One of the most popular forts in Maharashtra, it was considered the most secure fort in the entire region. Great pride of the Marathas, the fort tells the story of their glorious past. The forts were called by 15 different names during different empires: Reddi, Shivlanka, Raigadh, Rashivata, Islamgarh, Nandadeep, Tanas, Badenur, Rairi, Jambudweep, Raigiri, Rajgiri, Bhivgad, Rahir, and Gibraltar of the east. During Nizamshahi rule, the fort was used to keep prisoners.
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.
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 Fort, Pune
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.
Lohagadh Fort, Lonavala
Among the many hill forts in Maharashtra, Lohagadh is a marvelous piece of architecture. Located 52 km northwest of Pune, the fort sits at an elevation of 1,033 m above sea level. In 1648 CE, the fort was captured by Shivaji, which was then captured by the Mughals in 1665 CE. In 1670 CE, Shivaji Maharaj captured the fort again and he used it to store his treasury looted from Surat. 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 against here.
Other Important Forts acquired by Shivaji
Janjira Fort, Murud
Janjira fort, which is popular as Murud Fort, is located in Murud village of Maharashtra. Among the most impressive forts near Pune, Janjira is surrounded by water on all sides. Built by Malik Ambar at the end of the 17th century, the fort reflects the marvel of ancient engineering. This brilliant fort stands at a height of 40 feet, enduring the lashes of sea waves for ages. The fort had 500 canons but only a few of them are left now, and its towers are now used to keep guns in them. This fort is among the most beautiful forts in Maharashtra and you must explore it.