With more than 350 forts, Maharashtra has more forts than any other state. Whether marvels of architecture, relics of another era or bastions of war, they never cease to amaze, inspire and entice the tourist. Here are just a handful of the landmark sites you could escape to when the explorer in you comes calling:
Among the worlds best – preserved medieval forts, Deogiri – Daulatabad was built by Raja Bhillamaraj in the 11th century. Situated on a 600 ft high rock north-west of Aurangabad, the fort is hewn into a hill and encircled by a moat: unique architecture that was pioneered by the Yadava kings. Comfortable MTDC accommodation and a range of 5 star and budget hotels are available in nearby Aurangabad.
The largest fort on the Deccan Plateau, Panhala is where Shivaji spent 500 days, and where his son Sambhaji was impri – sioned. The fort is protected by three double – walled gates. Visit the granary or walk along the winding Raj Dindi path. Check out the breach in the wall through which the British tried to enter the fort. And while youre at it, put up in MTDCs rooms and tents located just a few minutes drive away. Private hotels are also available.
Gavilgad was built on the Chikhaldara Plateau between the 12th and 13th century. Just before he vanquished Napolean at Waterloo, The Duke of Wellington wrested the fort from the Matrathas. Today, the forts four solid gates still remain, but the walls and ramparts are battered by the ravages of war. Nearby, the Gond fort at Narnala reflects a curious blend of Gond and Mughal architectural influences. MTDC offers accomodation facilities at Chikhaldara hill station, just 2-3 kms from the fort.
Sinhagad or lions fort epitomises bravery. Many bloody tales have played out on its ramparts. Like that of the Koli chieftan Nag Naik who fought Muhammad – bin – Tughlaqs army for nine whole months. Or Aurangzebs commander Jaswant Singh who dragged heavy cannons up the forts steep sides to fight Shivaji. And Shivajis general Tanaji who lost his life while capturing the fort from the Moghuls. Visit the samadhi of Shivajis son Rajaram. See the sprawling NDA complex from a bastion top.
A convenient MTDC resort and trekking facilities are available at the fort entrance.
Called the Gibraltar of the East, this is where Shivaji built his capital city in 17th century AD. The forts single path to the top, makes it virtually impossible to penetrate. Visit the Hirakani Burj watchtower, the Bhavani Kada precipice, the mansions of Shivajis council and queen, and the Samadhi of Shivaji. MTDC provides accommodation facilities at the foot of the fort.
Built in the 15th century, and surrounded by sea on all sides this is probably the only impregnable fort on Maharashtras coast. Within the fort and protected by huge cannons, lie the ruins of palaces and stately mansions of the once prosperous Siddis. Murud Janjira is accessible by bus, rail or boat. Apart from many private hotels, MTDC offers a comfortable Holiday Resort very close to the site.
Built by the Portuguese in 1532, the fort, ringed by a creek on three sides, once enclosed a garden city, sprawling houses, palaces, even cathedrals and an orphanage. Today, the Portuguese influence is still evident. Visit the Matriz of St Joseph and climb up the watchtower for a fascinating view. See the Corinthian gate and the stony sea gate. There are several private hotels available in nearby Vasai.
Shivaji had built this Ocean Fort in 1664 AD. With 4000 mounds of iron and lead in the foundation stone, 12 foot thick rampart walls, 52 bastions, and Indias only temple to Shivaji, this is a fort to see. Stay in a houseboat or MTDCs excellent beach resort at Tarkarli.
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