[ecis2016.org] Raigad Fort information includes all about the stunning landmark that was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and has witnessed historic events and legendary warriors
Raigad Fort belonging to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is an imposing and famous hill fort nestled at Mahad, in Raigad District in Maharashtra. It is one of the strongest-ever fortresses of the Deccan Plateau and is known as the ‘Gibraltar of the East’ across the world. Several structures and other constructions in Raigad were developed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He made this his capital in 1674, after being crowned as the king of the entire Maratha Kingdom and later on, the Maratha Empire, covering a large portion of the central and western parts of India. The fort was the location for an armed campaign executed by the British East India Company in 1765. On May 9, 1818, the fort was looted and subsequently destroyed by British forces.
It is nearly-impossible to estimate the accurate value of the Raigad Fort, one of India’s stunning landmarks and a witness to historic events and stories of legendary warriors. It goes 2,700 ft or 820 metres above sea level, with the beautiful Sahyadri mountain range as the backdrop.
Raigad Fort belonging to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj includes little gateways namely Mena Darwaja, Palkhi Darwaja, Nagarkhana Darwaja and Maha Darwaja which elevate the enchantment levels here and show a glimpse of how people used to access the fort back in those days. While it held great grounds in the olden days, even today the Raigad fort sees a lot of tourists and local crowds who come here for activities including picnic, trekking and enjoying nature and its elements.
There is a single pathway with close to 1,737 steps leading to the Raigad Fort. The Raigad Ropeway is an aerial tramway that spans 750 metres in length and is 400 metres high. This helps tourists reach the Raigad Fort from the ground level in only a few minutes. The value of this Fort is priceless just like all other iconic monuments in the country. If it were to be estimated today, it would run into several millions without a doubt!
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Raigad Fort: History and local lore
The Raigad Fort (earlier called as the Fort of Rairi) was seized by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1656 from Chandraraoji More, the King of Jawali. After Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj seized the fort, he expanded it considerably and named it as King’s Fort or Raigad. It later became the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s expanding Maratha Empire. The Raigadwadi and Pachad villages are nestled at the base of the fort. These villages were vital during the Maratha reign at the Raigad Fort. The climb till the top of the fort starts right from Pachad itself. During the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj , a 10,000-strong cavalry division was always on guard at the Pachad village. Shivaji also built the Lingana Fort approximately two miles away from Raigad. It was used for accommodating prisoners.
Zulfikhar Khan captured Raigad in 1689 and Aurangzeb changed its name to Islamgad. Siddi Fathekan captured the fort in 1707 and held it until 1733. After this period, the Marathas captured the Raigad Fort once again and kept it till 1818. The Fort is nestled in the current Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra and the British East India Company targeted it as a major political epicenter. Cannons from the hill of Kalkai ravaged the Raigad Fort in 1818, destroying it. On May 9, 1818, a treaty was executed and the British East India Company obtained control of the same.
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Raigad Fort information in English: Things to look out for by first time visitors
Raigad fort is a big tourist destination in Maharashtra that has an excellent combination of history and nature coexisting. Let’s look at what all visitors should look out for while going to see Maratha Empire’s Raigad Fort.
- Raigad Fort Entry: The Chit Darwaza is from where visitors enter the Raigad Fort. From here visitors have to go to the Khoob Ladha Buruj and then move to the Raigad Fort’s main entrance- Maha Darwaja. This is extremely huge with the glory of the Maratha empire carved on it. From here, one has to trek up and will see all the little gateways mentioned above on their way. The sole pathway to the Raigad Fort goes through the ‘Huge Door’ or ‘Maha Darwaja’ which was earlier closed at sunset. It has two massive bastions on both sides, going up to 65-70 ft in height. The top of the Raigad Fort is approximately 600 ft above the door.
- Rani Vasa: While going to Raigad fort, do check out the Ravi Vasa or the queen’s chamber, whose structure is still intact. Raigad Fort information mentions that this was actually used by Shivaji Maharaj’s mother and other royal ladies.
- Palkhi Darwaja: This lies just ahead of the Rani Vasa. This was the place where Shivaji Maharaj used to pass along with his convoy. On the right if the Palkhi Darwaja were rooms which were actually believed to be the fort’s granaries.
- The Royal Bath: It has its own magnificent drainage system that has impressed historians and architecture lovers greatly. It leads to an underground cellar, which was used for secretive activities in the past including storing treasures garnered from wars, secret conversations and prayers and so on.
- Raj Bhavan: A pious place, this is believed to be the main place where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj used to spend time. This place has seen it all- victory, defeat, happiness, sadness, etc. historians mention.
- Watchtowers: The fort was guarded by three watchtowers. While two are still standing tall, the third one was attacked by the British and destroyed.
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Raigad Fort: Key facts
- Raigad Fort was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
- The chief architect and engineer was none other than Hiroji Indulkar.
- The main fort has the queen’s quarters, private restrooms and six chambers in all.
- There are ruins of a market, which was accessed by horseback riders once.
- The King’s Darbar still contains a replica of the original throne, which faces the ‘Nagarkhana Darwaja’ or main doorway. This enclosure was acoustically tailored to help hearing right from the doorway till the throne itself.
- ‘Takmak Tok’ is the execution point and cliff from where prisoners were thrown to die. The area is fenced-off today.
- A statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj stands before the ruins at the main market. The market goes up to ‘Jagdishwar Mandir’ and his samadhi along with the samadhi of Waghya, his loyal dog. The Pachad village has the samadhi of Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai.
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Other attractions include ‘Nane Darwaja’, ‘Khubladha Buruj’ and ‘Hatti Talav’ or Elephant Lake.
Raigad Fort Information: Nearby places
Raigad Fort can never be complete without talking about other attractions that are neighbours to the Raigad Fort.
- Gangasagar Lake: This artificial lake is special because it was created during the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The fort overlooks the Ganga Sagar artificial lake.
- Jijamata Palace: Conserved by the archaeological survey of India, this was the palace of Jijamata, the mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, where millions come to pay their respects.
- Jagadishwar Temple: An ardent devotee of Lord Jagadishwar of, this temple was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
- Raigad Museum: This showcases the artefacts, paintings, weapons and many other things dating back to the days of Maratha empire.
Raigad Fort latest updates
A gold bangle was excavated from the Raigad Fort in 2021 in a major find for the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and the RDA (Raigad Development Authority), the two organisations that coordinated the successful excavation in the Raigad Fort Complex, located roughly 160 kms away from Maharashtra’s capital city of Mumbai. The gold bangle may date back to the era of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As per the ASI and RDA, this artefact will help them immensely in learning more about the past and the fort.
In other developments, the MSRTC plans to launch an innovative day trip to Raigad Fort from Mumbai. There will be buses departing on Sundays at 5 AM from the Mumbai Central Depot. They will arrive at around 9-9.30 AM near the Raigad Fort. The tourists can then use a ropeway to venture into the Raigad Fort. The one-way cost for this would be Rs 100 per person. After exploring the Fort, tourists will return by the same bus and reach Mumbai by 9.15 PM.
Who built the Raigad Fort?
The Raigad Fort was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Who was the chief architect or engineer of Raigad Fort?
Hiroji Indulkar was the chief engineer or architect of the Raigad Fort.
Which villages lie at the base of the Raigad Fort?
The Pachad and Raigadwadi villages lie at the base of the Raigad Fort.
(Additional Inputs: Anuradha Ramamirtham)
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