Raigad Fort-Gibraltar of East. Saga of Chh. Shivaji Maharaj. Foundation of Hindavi Swarajya, Raigad.
Although the make of this fort dates back to the 13th century, it was Shivaji, who ruled from here after ascending the Maratha throne in 1674 AD. It is located at a height of 2,700 ft from the sea level, and can be accessed by a series of 1700+ stairs reaching the top of the fort, or by making use of the five-minute long ropeway ride. Shivaji took over the reins of Raigad Fort from Chandrarao More, a descendant of Chandragupta Maurya’s clan. It was later captured by Aurangzeb and finally looted and destroyed by the British rulers. It is believed that the British robbed the fort of a golden throne weighing 1,000 kg!
The fort was expanded and renamed from Rairi to Raigad by Shivaji. He made it into an impenetrable fortress, complete with an impressive granary, a massive kitchen, a meeting room, a marketplace, a queens’ palace divided into six rooms, secret doorways for king’s and queen’s entry, more than ten water storage tanks, a place dedicated to giving capital punishment to criminals and so on.
All in all, visitors need to set aside a complete day to explore this magnanimous fort that occupies considerable space on the green Sahyadri Mountains.
The samadhi or resting places of Chhatrapati Shivaji and his loyal pet dog, Waghya, are also located in the fort premises. As it always is in most fortresses, the Raigad Fort also has a temple for offering worship to god. However, due to the ravages of time and invasions over the past few centuries, Raigad Fort is now almost in ruins. Yet, its lovely landscape and rich history still beckons discerning weekenders and tourists to this place.
The tourist guides at the fort deserve a mention for the quality of service they offer. Their catchy narration of the events related to Shivaji’s stay in the fort and his exploits evoke awe in the mind of the hearer. Plus, we gathered that they usually don’t overcharge the tourists; so feel free to give them their due.
Raigad Fort is one of the most important forts in the history of Marathas, being the first capital of independent Marathi kingdom or “Hindavi Swarajya”. Graded as the most secured and most appropriate location by the King himself, the fort stands proudly showing the strength of the Maratha Empire. Moreover, it is an important link between the Deccan plateau and the coastal Maharashtra.
Raigad is well surrounded by mountains and was considered secured. The fort is surrounded on its north and east by Kaal River, and Gandhari River flows from its west side. Fort Lingana is situated to the east side and Kokandiva to the north. If the skies are clear, we can see Rajgad-Torna on the east and Pratapgad, Vasota and Makarandagad on the south.
Raigad was known as the mountain of “Rairi” before it was captured by Shivaji Maharaj. Due to its impregnability, Raigad was known as “Gibraltar of East”. In the 16th century, when this was not developed as a fort, it was called by local people as “Rashivata” and “Tanas”. Due to its shape of a tall oil lamp tower, it was also called as “Nandadeep”. The fort was called by 15 different names by different people at different times – Raigad, Rairi, Islamgad, Nandadeep, Jambudweep, Tanas, Rashivata, Badenur, Raigiri, Rajgiri, Bhivgad, Reddi, Shivlanka, Rahir and Gibraltar of the east. The fort was initially used to keep prisoners during the Nizamshahi rule. It was then ruled by the More clan of the Javli region. On 6th April 1656, Shivaji Maharaj besieged Rairi and captured it in May. The then Subhedar of Kalyan was transporting the treasure of Adilshah to Bijapur, which was raided by Marathas and utilized to fortify Raigad. It is mentioned in “Sabhasad Bakhar” how Shivaji Maharaj selected the fort as the first capital.
राजा खासा जाऊन पाहता गड बहुत चखोटा. चौतर्फा गडाचे कडे तासिल्याप्रमाणे दिड गाव उंच. पर्जन्यकाळी कडियावर गवत उगवत नाही आणि धोंडा तासीव एकच आहे. दौलताबाद पृथ्वीवर चखोट गड खरा, परंतु तो उंचीने थोडका. दौलताबादचे दशगुणी उंच असे देखोन बहुत संतुष्ट झाले आणि बोलिले, तक्तास जागा हाच गड करावा’.
‘The King observed that mountain of “Rairi” was the best place, steep on all sides and tallest of all, the whole mountain being a seamless rock. Daulatabad is also good, but less tall than this one. This fort is taller and better then Daulatabad and hence the best place for the throne.’ Raigad has been one of the most importance forts, and has been a witness of significant events – Shiv Raajabhishek (The Coronation ceremony of Shivaji Maharaj) was the most significant event in the history of India. Shivaji Maharaj became the King of the newly formed Maratha kingdom after a struggle of more than 300 years. Shivaji Maharaj took the blessings of Bhavani Mata of Pratapgad on 19th May 1674 and offered a golden umbrella (Chatra) worth Rs. 56,000 to the goddess before the ceremony. The ceremony took place on the auspicious day of 6th June 1674, which was a Saturday.
On 24th September 1674, Shivaji Maharaj underwent another ceremony for coronation for the commoners. This was done by Nischalpuri Gosavi. Kavi Bhushan has aptly written an extended description of this fort in his works.
On 4th February 1675, Sambhaji Maharaj’s thread ceremony took place on Raigad, and on 7th March 1680, it was Rajaram Maharaj’s ceremony. 8 days later Rajaram got married to Prataprao Gujar’s daughter.
On 3rd April 1680, Shivaji Maharaj passed away on this fort, which was the most devastating moment for the Maratha regime. On 16 February 1681, Sambhaji became the crowned king of Maratha Empire.
Aurangzeb started his conquest of Raigad in 1684, and dispatched Shahabuddin Khan with an army of 40000. He plundered the villages in vicinity like other Mughals and returned in 1985 without attacking Raigad. Zulfikarkhan followed suit and besieged Raigad on 25th March 1689. On 5th April Rajaram escaped to Pratapgad. Finally, on 3rd November 1689, Mughals captured Raigad due to treacherous Suryaji Pisal. They renamed the fort as Islamgad. Marathas regained it on 5th June 1733.
Places to visit in Raigad fort :
Jijamata Place at Pachad, Khubladha Buruj, Nana darwaja, Mashidmorcha, Chordindi, Hatti talao, Palkhi darwaja, Hirkani Buruj, Vagh Darwaja, Rani Vasa, Hatti Lake, Gangasagar lake, Jagdishwar temple
Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi: The samadhi of Maharaj is the main attraction on a fort. The samadhi of Waghya (Dear dog of Shivaji Maharaj) is also there.
Takmak Tok: There is a deep valley down this point of the fort. It was used to push the criminals into the valley for the death sentence.
Nagarkhana: It serves as a gate of Balekilla. Nagarkhana is situated in front of the Sinhasan of Maharaj.
Mahadarwaja: Mahadarwaja is a main gate of the fort. It is a huge door that comes from Pachad village. This door has a strong fortification on its both sides.
Doordarshan Tower: Doordarshan has managed to construct a very high tower on the Raigad fort Maharashtra.
Bazar Building: This place is situated next to the Nagarkhana which used to have 22 Store. Today this building is in ruins.
Only Fort in Maharahstra to have 2 options of climibing
Raigad fort Ropeway :
Tourists can either reach the top of the fort by trekking or take a ropeway. There is a ropeway at the base village which takes you to the top in just 4-5 minutes. So senior people or physically challenged persons can take a ropeway. This ropeway project of is a non-profit activity which was completed in 1996 under the leadership of late Shri V M Jog. One can have a great experience in monsoon season when it feels like a moving in Sahyadri Mountain Range amidst clouds, mist, and lush green surroundings. Earlier there was only one route to reach the top and awards were given to the person who used to climb the fort via mountain ridges and unconventional methods.
Ropeway ride costs INR 300 for adults and INR 200 for senior citizens. Average wait time to board the ropeway is around an hour on a busy day. Ropeway is open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Carry cash and change to buy snacks and beverages from the canteens located at the base of the fort and at the top. Snacks served are kanda bhaji, pitla bhakhri and a full-meal Maharashtrian thali.
Raigad fort Trekking :
Raigad is one of the most famous trekking destinations in Maharashtra. There are total 1737 steps on this fort. Trek to Raigad takes about 2 hours to reach the top of the fort. One can experience the splendid natural beauty of Raigad in the monsoon season. June to October is the best season to enjoy the eye-pleasing views of surrounding Sahyadri Mountain Range. In monsoon season, local people set food stalls in between the trekking route of Raigad. Overall it is an exciting trek that can be completed within one day from Pune.
How to reach Raigad fort :
One can easily reach Mahad by ST buses. From there paid vehicles like jeep are available till base village of the fort – Pachad. It is 132 km away from the Pune city.
• Route From Pune : Pune – Kamshet – Khopoli – Sajgoan – Raigad.
• Route From Mumbai : Mumbai – Panvel – Pen – Nagothane Fata – Indapur – Mangaon – Mahad – Pachad (Base village Raigad fort Maharashtra). Travelling by road instead train displays amazing scenic views. It is recommended to take the route via Mahad instead of Mangaon. The route via Mangaon is very bad and not much exciting. Though the route via Mahad is bit long but is goes through highway and gives nice views!
• By Air : Pune airport is the nearest airport to this fort. It is about 126 km away from the fort.
• By Rail : Mangoan station or Vir-Dasgaon stations on the Konkan railway are the convenient railheads to reach Raigad fort Maharashtra. Buses and other private vehicles are available from stations till the fort.
• By Road : Raigad being situated 30km to the north of Mahad, ST buses ply regularly from Mahad. There are buses from Mumbai Central and Pune which ply to Mahad or Raigad via Mahad. We can ascend Raigad either by walk or by ropeway. If we want to ascend the fort by walk, we can go from Chitta Darwaja or Nana Darwaja and we reach MahaDarwaja. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top. If we reach the top of the fort by ropeway, it takes only 15-20 minutes. However, wait time for ropeway depends on the crowd.
• By Boat : People from Mumbai can reach this fort by Boat. Motor launches are available from Gateway of India in Mumbai to Alibaug. They take only 45 minutes to reach Alibaug. Then you can catch private vehicles from there till Raigad.