Fort Sinhgad: Soul of Jijabai and Shivaji Maharaj

Sahyadri.JPG

Sahyadri Mountains

Some places are synonymous to a city just like when we think of Paris, it is Eiffel Tower, for Agra it is the Taj Mahal, for New Delhi the Red fort and the Kutubminar, for Kolkata it is the Hawada bridge. Similarly for Pune it is Shaniwarwada and Sinhgad. Shaniwarwada was the pride of Punekars and a prominent part of Peshwa era, while the tale of Shivaji Maharaj would be incomplete without the mention of Kondhana i.e. Sinhgad and the great sacrifice of Tanaji Malusare, a lion heart soldier in Shivaji’s army.

En route to Sinhgad

Situated at about 33 km from Pune city, Sinhgad fort stands tall telling the great war stories of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his brave soldiers (mavalas). From Donje, Sinhgad is located at about 10Km.

Sinhgad view.JPG

Located at 4,300 feet from sea-level Sinhgad is situated on Bhuleshwar mountain ranges of the Sahyadri.

Sinhgad Ghat Road.jpg

We have visited Sinhgad during Summer, Winter and late rainy season. Each trip was awesome with the beauty of that particular season. Each season has its own charm which captivates your mind. It could be a soft drizzle which envelopes sahyadri in green carpet, or the chilly winters during which the fog wraps the hills with a white jacket of clouds, or it could be the blossomed spring on the Sinhgad fort top which will give you a feel of paradise.

Tree on Sinhgad top.jpg
There are two ways to reach Sinhgad. You can go trekking (By the way Sinhgad is much sought after by every trekker that every trekker going on a trek outside Pune first does a rehearsal here.) Through trekking it would take about 45 minutes to reach the top.

By car you can reach the parking lot at the top via a road through mountains (ghat) in about 20 minutes. They charge Rs.50 per vehicle as a toll.

When the parking is full people park their cars near the parking area on the road. Please avoid doing that since the ghat road is very narrow and can cause heavy congestion.

People climbing the fort

People climbing the Sinhgad Fort

When you start your journey from parking area you see several food stalls to satisfy your taste buds. While trekking your way to the top many people take a break from the trek and enjoy the buttermilk, yogurt, boiled peanuts, raw mango etc. that is sold by vendors along the path. These vendors are usually villagers from around the fort and they bring their goods to sell to the trekkers.

You enter the fort through Pune Darwaja. A big and detailed map of Sinhgad fort is installed by the Maharashtra Government there. Do take a snap of this map as it helps us a lot for going around in the fort.

MAP Sinhgad Fort

Map of Sinhgad fort

 

After entering through Pune Darwaja you get to see a board pointing in the right direction saying Tofkhana/ Daru kothar. It is a strongly built stone structure with ample open space. It was used to store the ammunition for cannons.

 

Ammunition Centre at Sinhgad.jpg

Going ahead on the left hand side a huge rock formation is seen. It was used to keep horses of the soldiers.

Stable or Ghodyanchi Paga.jpg

There is also a Shivsrushti exhibition on Shivaji Maharaj. It has pictures depicting important scenes of Shivaji Maharaj’s life crafted on copper plates. If you have good amount of time do visit it as it would deserve  sufficient time to understand it thoroughly.

 

Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

Just ahead on few footsteps Lokamanya Tilak Niwas is there. It is believed that Mahatma Gandhi has also visited this place.

Tilak Niwas.jpg

Information at Lokamanya Tilak Niwas

We headed up straight to Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi located at about half a km from here. He was the son of Shivaji Maharaj and Soyarabai.

Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi

Rajaram Maharaj Samadhi

There was also a small reservoir just behind the tomb. We were bit disturbed by seeing the condition of this reservoir as it was full of moss. These types of water tanks are found in all major forts and these need to be cleaned regularly and maintained properly as this might contain some important clues of history. There is a possibility of finding old coins, weapons and idols in these.

Sinhgad Fort.JPG

We went ahead till the Kalawantinicha buruj which gives us a great view of Tung, Tikona, Lohgad forts.

A view from Sinhgad

view from Sinhgad

Donagiricha kada (cliff) is the one from where Tanaji Malusare climbed on the fort to start the beginning of a fierce battle that ended in Shivaji’s army winning the fort.

Sahyadri Mountain ranges.jpg

About Tanaji Malusare: In the Purander fort treaty, Kondhana (Sinhgad fort) was lost to  the Mughals along with many other forts. Jijabai used to look at Kondhana from her Rajgad fort and it was causing tremendous pain to her that this fort was with the Mughals (enemies). She expressed her desire to take back this fort from the enemies hands. While she was discussing this with Shivaji Maharaj, Tanaji Malusare, Shivaji’s childhood friend visited them to give the  invitation of his son’s wedding. When he came to know about this plan he took the leadership of this campaign and on 4th Feb 1670 at night climbed this fort along with his soldiers from a very dangerous cliff.It is also said that Tanaji Malusare used a monitor lizard (a pet lizard called Yashwanti to climb this cliff, he tied a rope to the lizard’s tail which helped the climbing) Tanaji and his soldiers climbed the fort in total darkness(moonless night). A fierce battle took place and Tanaji Malusare was killed by Udyabhan just before capturing the fort.

Tanaji Malusare Samadhi at Sinhgad.jpg

All the soldiers got disturbed by the fall of their leader and started to retreat. Just then Tanaji’s brother Suryaji Malusare and Shelarmama((an old soldier in his mid seventies) took the charge of the campaign and asked the soldiers to come back, by reminding them about the oath of Swarajya. Shelarmama cut the ropes leaving no choice for them but to fight. In the battle that followed, Suryaji and Shelarmama killed Udyabhan (who was in charge of the fort) thus capturing the fort.’Gad ala pan Sinha gela’ (The fort is won but a lion is lost) a phrase uttered by Shivaji Maharaj in respect to the fallen warrior became popular after this great sacrifice of Tanaji as the Marathas lost a true and courageous lion from their army.

Tanaji Malusare memorial on Sinhgad.jpg

 

Food and refreshments on the Fort

One can enjoy the traditional marathi dish Zunka Bhakar with onion pakodas (which is a must with extremely spicy chutney, made from oil, onions and lots of red chilly powder). Do try butermilk, or curd given in earthen pot.There are fixed rates for food items and are displayed at the entrance.

Photographer's delight

Photographer’s delight Sinhgad

How to Reach:

PMPML buses run every hour from Shaniwarwada and Swargate up to the base of the fort. From the base you can get into a shared vehicle like a jeep, tempo etc. as well. If you have your own vehicle that would be the best option.

Trekking/ climbing during the rainy season should be done with proper precautions as the routes become slippery. Of late Govt. had closed access to Sinhgad due to heavy rain as there was a possibility of land slide. There was also an alternative way provided for some time which was extremely narrow and full of ditches and potholes. Better check with the latest news before visiting this place to avoid mood off.

 

The fort can also be reached from other side by Kalyan Darwaja. You can go by Pune Kondhanpur road and from Kondhanpur one can enter the fort through Kalyan Darwaja. It is facing towards Torna and Rajgad.

An evening at Sinhgad.jpg

To avoid overcrowding during holidays Government can start online registration and toll collection, thus limiting the number of tourists to this wonderful fort to a manageable level. That will make a one day picnic to Sinhgad more pleasurable and memorable.

 

Quick Notes:

Location: Near Donje village in Pune

Visiting hours : From 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Do taste the delicious Zunka bhakar on the top of the fort and do not throw empty water bottles and other garbage there ( It is a tragedy that this has to be told that too again and again) Use the dustbins instead which Government has kept at every half km.

Remember forts are our true national treasures.

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Kshetra Mahuli (Part 2)

Kashi Vishweshwar1

In the excitement of sharing vast information sometimes you get confused and struggle to find a take off point. Same was the case with Mahuli. There is so much to reveal and express. But this time that chaos has brought the clarity and harmony. Let us continue the amazing kaleidoscope of temples, greenery, Krishna river, farms, people and heritage in Kshetra Mahuli Part 2.

Radha Shankar Temple:

On the river banks of Kshetra Mahuli, RadhaShankar temple is situated. This temple was built in 1762 AD by Radhabai Taisaheb in the memory of her husband Shankararao Pantasachiv. Surprisingly Nandi idol is on the same square of the temple structure here, usually it is built separately just outside the Shiva Temple. On the left hand side of the door Ganesh Murti is there. Ganesh idol is also carved on the main entrance of all these temples underlining the fact that this deity had the immense importance in the Peshwa era and was most worshipped.

RadhaShankar Temple

There is also a Hanuman idol coloured in saffron colour. Some different stone carvings could be seen in this temple.

RadhaShankar inside

Statue at RadhaShankar

The columns in this temple have lotus design and remind us of the wooden carvings of palaces or wadas. In the inner sanctum Shivling is there. Two towers  of light are there(Deepamala)

 

RadhaShankar Mandir

RadhaShankar Mandir

 

Very near to this place is self manifested Ganesh.

Self manifested Ganesh

Self manifested Ganesh

 

Badrinarayan Temple:

Behind the Datta Temple there is Badrinarayan Mandir built in 1905 AD  by Radhabai Joshi/ Moropant Joshi. Once a very big and beautiful temple, it is in ruins now.

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Badrinarayan temple

History would be incomplete without ruins, they tell us a story of the past. But isn’t it important to preserve and look after these forgotten places?

Badrinarayan temple

Badrinarayan temple

 

Rameshwar temple:

Built by Parshuram Anagal in the 17th century Rameshwar temple is an elegant stone temple. Impact of Mughal architecture can be easily noticed by looking at the domes of this temple. This temple has a vast courtyard as compared to other two temples of Kshetra Mahuli. On entering the temple premises one shivling is seen. The Nandi idol here is bigger and carved with heavy bells design. Inside the sanctum sanctorum the main Shivling is there.

Rameshwar Temple

Mahuli is a pilgrimage centre, hence the name Kshetra Mahuli. It is also known as Dakshin Kashi. On one bank of the river, Kashi Vishweshwar temple is situated and on the other bank, Rameshwar temple. On visiting both the temples one would get the punya of visiting Tirthakshetra (Pilgrimage centre)

 

Kashi Vishweshwar temple:

Kashi Vishweshwar temple is an amazing example of temple architecture. It is a magnificent piece of art.

Kashi vishweshwar

The Nandi idol has been recently painted in white and golden colour and the square on which it is placed is also worth watching. Various designs are used to decorate this square and the design is not even repeated once.

 

Nandi at Kashi Vishweshwar

Nandi at Kashi Vishweshwar

Inside the temple numerous columns are beautifully decorated with diverse designs of parrots, peacocks and swans.

Designs on columns

Designs on columns

Outside the temple huge deepmala (tower like structure where oil lamps could be kept) is there which is approximately 45 to 50 feet in height.

Tower of Light

Tower of Light (Deepmala)

Krishnabai Utsav (Krishna River celebration):

Krishna river (4th biggest  river in India after Ganga, Brahmhaputra and Godavari) originates in Maharashtra near Mahabaleshwar. With its most fertile soil no wonder it is regarded as Lokamata (Mother) by people. Krishnabai Utsav is celebrated in different places in Wai, Mahabaleshwar , Limb, Kshetra Mahuli, Sangam Mahuli, Karad, Amanapur, Narsinhwadi even till Karnataka. This celebration starts from Vaishakh shudh Ekadashi and ends on Vaishakh Pournima as per the Hindu calendar which usually falls in the month of May. 5 days of celebration are filled with Bhajan, Kirtan, Katha Kathan etc. During this celebration various competitions take place. Various camps are organised such as Blood donation, free medical check up for needy people, uniforms and books distribution to the poor and deserving students.

This type of festivity takes place almost in each village and town where ever Krishna river is present. People from all age groups and all social strata participate in this. The jubilation and glee of the place is contagious. Large number of people have now migrated to bigger cities like to Mumbai and Pune , but they flock to Kshetra Mahuli  during Krishnabai Utsav. This shows the immense faith and love for their native place.

 

Lokmata Krishnabai

Lokmata Krishnabai

There is a connection of this celebration with Shivaji era. There was a priest called Shendye Shastri  in Wai. He had pleaded to the Krishna river to protect Shivaji Maharaj from the mighty and evil Afzalkhan. Afzalkhan had started his journey towards Shivaji Maharaj’s capital and was destroying the pilgrimage centres on the way. He had a huge army with him and anticipating this danger Shivaji Maharaj shifted his headquarters  to Pratapgad. As we know Shivaji Maharaj with his guerrilla war fare techniques killed Afzalkhan and destroyed his huge army.

This Shendye Shastri took a vow to Krishna river saying that if you save our king from this difficult phase we will celebrate your festival every year on all the banks where ever you appear. His wish was fulfilled and from that time this celebration takes place every year without any break.

Krishnadham:

Near Kshetra Mahuli there is a place called Krishnadham. This is an Ashram of Yogi Krishnanad maharaj. This place is a picture perfect beauty. The winding steps here lead you to a tranquil and soothing place very near to the river. This will make you forget about your worries and will take you in a trance.You will feel like never leaving this place.  I wish to relish every moment spent here.

Krishnadham

Krishnadham

Kshetra Mahuli would impress the travelers of various interests. It has been a shooting location for some superhit movies like Sant Tukaram, Gunj Uthi Shahanai etc.

Many persons of national presence and historical importance belong to this place. To name a few Shrirang Jadhav, an Olympic wrestler who participated in Helsinki Olympics, Kirtankar of national fame Govind Aphale and Charudatta Aphale who delighted the entire nation by their auspicious and divine compositions and above all Nyaymurti Ramshastri Prabhune who was famous for his impartial and fair justice in the court of Madhavrao Peshwe.

Ramshastri Prabhune  even told Madhavrao Peshwe that now he has accepted the Kshatriya dharma so his duty should be to govern and protect his subjects and he should not spend so much time in religious processes/ rituals. Because of his fearless and outspoken nature he did not hesitate to tell Raghoba dada Peshwe (Raghunath Peshwe) to take the death penalty (dehant Prayachitta) for his involvement in the murder of Narayanrao Peshwe. Such a courageous person who would not spare even the supreme authority is difficult to find these days.

Ramashastri Prabhune

Ramashastri Prabhune

Mahuli got its reputation in Peshwa era primarily because of Ramshashtri Prabhune.

This was a short tale of this sacred town of Kshetra Mahuli. It is one such landmark which has historical tales, architectural splendor and jubilant people. Do take out time and visit this place.

Quick Facts:

Location: 105 kms from Pune

Don’t forget to  take kandi pedha of Satara (Yogesh Sweets Modi Pedhewale and Ladkar are well known) and famous brinjals of Krishna banks on your way back.

References: Document Nyayadewata published in 1979 and Lokmata document published in 2005 and discussions with noteworthy mahulikars

 

Bhuleshwar: Hidden Treasure

Light and shadow effect at Bhuleshwar

There is always something special about every visit, every trail, every moment and every experience. I visited Bhuleswar twice. First time it was with a group of trekkers and an expert historian and the next visit was with my family. Both the trips were magical and miraculous.

Location:

Bhuleshwar Temple is situated about 53 Kms from Pune and 10 Kms from Yawat. To visit this temple from Pune you need to catch the Pune Solapur Highway. Just before Yawat you will find Kamat hotel on the left hand side and Kanchan hotel on the right hand side if you are going from Pune. Take a right turn and follow the Malshiras road to reach Bhuleshwar temple. Be careful on the inner ghat road. On the way you would see Suhana Masala factory, Nishigandh and Custard Apple plantation, Dwarika Krishi sankalp etc. Take a right turn and you will reach an entrance arch saying Bhuleshwar Vana Udyan. This temple is situated on a hilltop. There are two very sharp turns before reaching the top. Be extremely careful.

On the way to Bhuleshwar

On the way to Bhuleshwar

Nature on the way

Nature on the way

History of this place:

Bhuleshwar temple was built in 1230 AD by Yadava rulers. It was deformed and destroyed by Mughal attackers. In 1629 Adilshahi Sardar Murar Jagdev destroyed and looted Pune completely and he literally deployed donkeys to plough the fields in Pune. He constructed a fort here which was known as DaulatMangal Gadh. He used it to keep a watch on Pune city from this fort. It is said that later Shivaji Maharaj and Peshwas did some restoration of this temple. One can still find some signs of earlier Muslim rule by looking at Eidgah (open air gathering place normally on the outskirts of the city).

Remains of Eidgah

Remains of Eidgah

Now Bhuleshwar temple comes under the Archaeological survey of India and is a protected monument.

Bhuleshwar Temple from outside

 

Once you reach the temple you won’t be able to guess from outside what the temple would be from inside. From outside it has an appearance like a mosque which reflects the social impact on the architecture of that era.

When you enter the temple premises from the first few steps the saga of magical carvings starts.

carvings at the entrance steps

Sculptures at the entrance steps

 

Normally Nandi idol is outside the Shiva temple but in this one you will find a big one inside the temple. It is huge and beautiful ornaments are carved on it.

Nandi idol

On the walls there are carvings from Ramayan, Mahabharat etc. The most prominent scenes like Draupadi Swayamwar, Mahabharat war, Shriram Bharat meeting, Kidnapping of Seeta by Ravan,Churning of the ocean etc.

Draupadi Swayamwar

Draupadi Swayamwar(Mahabharat)

 

Bheem fighting with elephants

Bheem fighting with elephants ( Mahabharat)

 

Bhishma on bed of arrows

Bhishma on bed of arrows , Pandavas sitting beside him

Ram and Bharat Meeting

Ram and Bharat Meeting (Ramayana)

 

Samudramanthan

Samudramanthan (Churning of the Ocean)

 

It also has Ganesh, Shankar and Vishnu in Female form.

 

Idols in female form

Idols of Ganesh, Shankar, Vishnu


Each pillar, each carving is unique. Even the borders of each carving are decorated with different designs. On pillars we saw different carvings of Bells, flowers and even inverted cobras (which was quite popular during 12 and 13th century)

 

Elephants on pillars

Elephants on the pillars

Ceiling carving at the entrance

Carvings

In the Pradakshina marg one would see a beautiful light and shadow effect. It gives an individuality to each and every sculpture.

Inside the temple

Bell, Cobra and flower design

Darpan Sundari

Darpan Sundari(Lady admiring herself in mirror)

There is a sculpture of group of artists playing various intruments like flute, Mridangam, Pakhwaj, Shehnai etc. One could understand that there was great recognition, appreciation and respect for art in different forms.

Musicians

Musicians

While we were appreciating the beauty of the sculptures it was causing immense pain to see deformed idols. What wonder the temple would have created if it was intact with all the carvings???

Deformed sculptures

Deformed sculptures

Once you enter the sanctum sanctorum the scene is completely different. All the materialistic emotions of life are displayed outside and once inside the temple there is not even a single carving denoting complete detachment and renunciation of the material world.

Shivling

 

There is also a story associated with this temple that if you offer a pack of Pedhas to this Shivling and keep that pack below the mask of Shiva at least one Pedhha disappears. It is said that many people have experienced this. We have not tried it so can’t comment anything about this.

This place is very much crowded during Mahashivratri and Shravani Somwar but on rest of the days very few people visit this temple. The care taker told us that they are getting different information from different sources. They are collecting it and planning to put a board outside for visitors to get some information.

If you climb down about 50 steps you will reach a water storage of ancient times. It is covered with rocks so water is stored there from many years and very less evaporation takes place. There is also a Shivling here. If you peep inside you will see different compartments of water. Those different compartments might have been used for different purposes like drinking, cleaning, washing clothes etc.

Water storage

It is a unique place where intricately carved sculptures will surely take your breath away. I would recommend that you make a complete one day trip to visit this place and study it in detail. Do take a powerful torch with you to admire the real grandeur of the carvings.

One would simply wonder at the marvelous piece of art the sculptors have created. They have infused life into the life less stones. It is a must visit for art lovers.

Nagkanya

Quick Notes:

Location: Near Yawat on Pune Solapur road about 53 Kms from Pune

Visiting hours : From 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Take care of the last two sharp turns and most important take a powerful torch with you to observe the sculptures in detail.

Do visit Kanchan hotel on your way back (On main highway). It is a beautiful place with innovative interior and earthen decor. Good place to have snacks.