When people think of Maharashtra they only think about Mumbai being the financial capital of the nation that draws more income, but there is more that Maharashtra has to offer than just fast life and hustle bustle of Mumbai. Maharashtra has a rich history and culture that still remains unexplored and this monsoon season I have decided to take my readers on that epic journey back into the world of forts and battles where life was unforgiving, challenging and where brave Maratha warriors fought for the establishment of Hindavi Swaraj (complete freedom of India). Let’s go back to those treacherous mountains and unexplored locations to explore the top 5 forts in Maharashtra that witnessed those gruesome battles and symbolize the bravery and sacrifices of Maratha warriors.
Located in Devgad taluka, Vijaydurg Fort remains one of the oldest historic forts in the history of Maharashtra. The fort is also known as Eastern Gibraltar and remains impregnable because of its location on the Sindhudurg coast.
Constructed during the regime of Raja Bhoja II it was in the year 1205 that this fort was completed. Many historic documents reveal that Shivaji Maharaj personally hoisted the saffron flag here. It was in the year 1653 that Shivaji captured this fort from Adil Shah of Bijapur and extended the fort area by constructing three new walls on the eastern side each wall 36 meters high. Locally this fort is also known as Gheria.
While there are no top hotels close to this fort you can look out for some affordable guest house nearby. The fort is 52 kilometers from Kasarde which is on Mumbai-Goa highway. The fort is around 180 kilometers from Panaji and 525 kilometers from Mumbai.
Pratapgad also known as Pratapgarh or Pratapgadh stands tall in the Satara district signifying the Battle of Pratapgad. The fort is not too far away from top tourist destination Mahabaleshwar.
The fort was built to protect and defend the Par pass and completed in 1656. The fort also stands for the epic battle between Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan in 1659 testing the valor and strength of Maratha empire.
The fort name literally means Valor fort. It is said that after killing Afzal Khan, Shivaji Maharaj buried his head under the tower in the fort. With just 25 kilometers from Mahabaleshwar visiting the fort is easy on weekends. You can take a bus from Panvel to Poladpur and enjoy the monsoon and the landscape around the fort.
Raigad Fort plays an important role in the development of Maratha Empire as Shivaji made Raigad Fort the capital of his kingdom in 1674 when he was crowned Maratha King. Located near Mahad in the Raigad district the fort was originally built by Chandrarao More in 1030.
Today, Raigad Fort is a great travel destination for those who want to take a peek into the history and also for nature and adventure lovers. Raigad Fort is around 187 kilometers from Mumbai and you can take any local state transport bus or taxis that can help you get here. You can also make use of the ropeway that can help you visit this grand fort.
Rajgad Fort literally means the Royal Fort and located in the Pune district and 1318 meters above the sea level this fort remained the capital of the Maratha Empire for 26 years before Raigad was announced the capital of the Maratha Kingdom. Rajgad Fort is the only fort where Shivaji Maharaj stayed for more number of days than any other fort. The fort stands witness to many historic and personal events in the life of Shivaji Maharaj including the death of Shivaji’s Queen Saibai. When you visit the fort you can view her tomb in the fort. This fort is a great tourist destination for trekkers and climbers.
This fort has witness the rise of the Maratha Kingdom against the Bijapur Kingdom and the Mughals and has plays vital role in many treaties as well. Purandar Fort or Purandhar Fort stands 1387 meters above the sea level just 40 kilometers south-east of Pune.
There are actually two forts here, main one called Purandar and the second smaller fort called Vajragad or Rudramal. During the epic battle here, Mughals managed to secure and win the fort killing Murar Baji Prabhu, brave commander of the Purandar Fort. Shivaji had to surrender to 23 forts to Aurangzeb signing the Treat of Purandar in 1665, but the truce did not last long. Shivaji Maharaj revolted against Aurangzeb in 1670 recapturing this historic fort. Shivaji’s eldest son Sambhaji was born at the Purandar Fort. When you are at the fort you can view the statue of Murar Baji Prabhi Deshpande, the fort commander who laid his life while fighting against the Mughals. Trekkers and paragliders and even travelers can reach Pune and take the Saswad road and then towards Narayanpur that will take you to the Purandar Fort.