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.
Daulatabad Fort, Daulatabad
Daulatabad Fort, which is also known as Devagiri was built in the 14th century. Situated at a distance of 16 km northwest of Aurangabad, this fort is considered one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra. Among the most gorgeous forts in Maharashtra, Daulatabad was captured by various rulers, including the Mughals, the Marathas, and the Peshwas. In 1724 AD, it came under the Nizams of Hyderabad. In order to reach the fort, you have to climb about 750 steps
Panhala Fort, Panhala
20 km away from the main city of Kolhapur, Panhala Fort is strategically situated looking over a pass, which was a major trade route from Bijapur in the interior of Maharashtra, in the majestic Sahyadri mountain range. Tarabai, the queen regent of Kolhapur spent her formative years in the fort.
Shanivarwada Fort, Pune
This 18th-century historical fort built-in 1732 is a popular sight that documents many events of the Maratha Empire and traces their time in this region.
Shanivarwada fort was the seat of the Maratha empire between 1730 to 1818. Among the most stunning forts in Pune, this one holds a special and an important place in Indian history. Built by the Peshwas of Chhatrapati, this palace fort has nearly been destroyed by military attacks and was majorly by an unexplained fire in 1828. It is also believed that the fort palace is haunted by the ghost of Peshwa Narayanro.
Yashwantgarh Fort, Redi
Situated near Maharashtra-Goa border, Yashwantgadh fort mainly ruins now. Also known as Redi fort, it was built by the Marathas in the 16th century. The fort was captured by the British in 1765, who later sold the land to locals in 1890 retaining the ownership of the fort walls.
Sindhugarh Fort, Malvan
Sindhugarh fort was erected by Shivaji Maharaj in 1664-67 AD on 48 acres of the island. It is believed that he personally selected this location, which is a rocky island. The most amazing feature of the fort is that its foundation stones were laid down firmly in molten lead. The solid walls and beautiful gateways of this fort make it look absolutely majestic. With a 4-km long, 9-km tall solid zigzag wall, this is among the best-preserved forts in Maharashtra. There’s a small temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj within the boundaries of the fort. The fort also makes a perfect place to take some great pictures with the Arabian Sea in the background.
Sinhagadh Fort, Pune
Sinhagadh fort is situated on a hill located about 25 km southwest of Pune. It is located at an elevation of 1,312 m above sea level. Some of the sources say that the fort could have been built over 2000 years ago. The fort was formerly known as Kondhana, which has witnessed many battles through the centuries, and the most important one was the Battle of Sinhagad in 1670.
Pratapgad Fort, Satara
A Shivaji Maharaj fort, Pratapgad is a huge fort located in Satara. As per the records, the fort was built in 1657, offering a mesmerizing view of coastal Konkan. At a distance of only 8 km from Mahabaleshwar, this is among the most popular forts in Maharashtra. In 1960, a guest house and a national park were established inside the fort. This grand fort is currently owned by Udyanraje Bhosale, who’s the 13th Chhatrapati of the former Satara state.
Kandhar Fort, Nanded
Located at a distance of 50 km from Ranthambhore National Park, Kandhar Fort was built nearly 1200 years ago by King Krishna III of Malkhed. Its architecture is quite similar to that of the Shivneri forts in Maharashtra. Known for its wonderful architecture, it is surrounded by a canal filled with water.
Rajmachi Fort, Pune
One of the most beautiful forts in Maharashtra, the Rajmachi Fort is formed when two forts namely Manaranjan Fort and Shrivardhan Fort come together. Located in a village known as Rajmachi in the mountains of Sahyadri, this fort is pretty famous and a must-visit place in Maharashtra.
Tikona Fort, Lonavala
Tikona when translated means ‘triangle. 3500 feet high and pyramidal in shape Tikona Fort is located near Lonavala and offers impeccable views. Probably the most instagrammable fort in Maharashtra this fort is also a famous trekking place and is popular for its large doors.
Vasota Fort, Satara
Offering awe-inspiring views of Shivsagar lake and Nageshwar peak, Vasota Fort is created by the backwaters of Koyna river and is gorgeous. What is more beautiful is the road leading to the fort. Passing through Kas pathar or as it is popularly known as the Valley of Flowers of Maharashtra, you will encounter spectacular views along the way.
Visapur Fort, Malavali
Also known as the Visapoor Fort, this fort in Maharashtra is a part of the Visapur-Lohagarh fortification which happened back in the day. Situated near the village Visapur this fort is extremely beautiful and is located at a height of 1084 meters.
Suvarnadurg Fort, Dapoli
Imagine visiting a sea fort. Now read about Suvarnadurg Fort and tell us if there is any reason as to why you shouldn’t visit this beautiful sea fort in Maharashtra. Situated on a small island within the Arabian Sea and close to Harnai this fort is as beautiful as it gets. Established by Marathas this fort is nothing less than magical.
Korigad Fort, Aambi Valley City
Also known as Koraigad, the Korigad Fort is hardly at a 20-kilometer distance from Lonavala and near a village called Peth Shahpur. Made during the reign of Chatrapati Shivaji the Tung Fort is an important historical site
Akola Fort, Akola District
Also known as the Asadgad fort, this classic structure is one of the most significant fortifications of the Akola district. If you are planning a cultural tour in Maharashtra, chances are that this place is going to be one of the top sightseeing attractions on your list. The initial construction of the fort was done using mud by Akol Singh and later was turned into a solid architectural marvel
Vasai Fort, Vasai-Virar
Popularly known among the locals as Corte de Baçaim meaning “Court of Bassein” or Fort Bassein, this popular ruins area is a major attraction among tourists for its association with the historical chapter of Palghar district of Konkan.
Prabalgad Fort, Raigad District
Located at the intersection of Matheran and Panvel, the Prabalgad Fort is a timeless piece of architecture that stands tall amidst barren lands of history. Nestled in front of the mountain ranges of Sahyadris
Harishchandragad Fort, Ahmednagar District
More than just a hill fort in Ahmednagar, this is not just another sightseeing attraction, but a landmark that literally controls the surrounding regions.
Mandangad Fort, Ratnagiri District
Located at a distance of 2 km from Mandangad town, this fort has majestic views, classic architecture, and a 400-year-old cannon that is the main attraction of this site.
Vijaydurg Fort, Vijaydurg