Raigad

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- Megha Chaturvedi

Amidst the Maratha County lies the capital of Shivaji’s kingdom. Tales of implausible gallantry and heroic deeds are engraved on every nugget of this strategic empire, Raigad. This is the very place were Shivaji built his capital city and crowned himself Chhatrapati on June 6, 1674. It was here that he died on April 3, 1680.

Its strategic and historical importance makes it a hit among revelers. There are umpteen places which one can visit and enjoy, but the place which one cannot give a miss is the Raigad fort.

Prime Attractions:

Raigad which is situated 869 metres above sea level is spread over a distance of 12 km from east to west and one kilometer from north to south. The fort which is also known as Durgadeshwar was originally named Raigiri. It was given the name of Raigad by Shivaji. This very fort was Shivajis capital.

The citadel is floating on an isolated hill of the Sahyadri range. Pachchad village was initially the doorway to the fort. There are around 1400-1450 steps that one has to climb to make his way to the fort. But to reduce the hurdles of the tourists, government has created a short cut to the top of the fort. From 1996 a ropeway has been started so that one can visit the place without any hassles.

Though parts of Raigad are in ruins, yet they inspire an atmosphere of magnificence. Once one enters the realm, the world of Chhatrapati is an open book. Among the other things one can enjoy seeing the weapons and swords of those times. A film is also shown to the visitors which entice one to explore more of the fort.

Attractions in the Fort:

Chit Darwaja also known as Jit Darwaja at the foothills near Pachchad is much appreciated by the visitors. After this one reaches the Khoob Ladha Buruj, a tower known for its strategic importance.

After a complex climb, nearly a mile ahead stands the awe inspiring Maha Darwaja which was built around 350 years ago.

The darbar where the throne was placed is supposed to be so acoustically designed that even now one can hear a whisper from the Maha Darwaja.  There are loose ends of foundations of the Queen's Stambh, chieftains' and ministers' wadas (bungalows).

A special entrance for the royal ladies and queens, the Mena Darwaja is located at a higher posting. To its left is the Rani Vasa or Queen’s Chambers. These six chambers were known to be used by the royal ladies.
Another site to see in front of the Rani Vasa is the Palkhi Darwaja. This was a special entrance for the fleet of Shivaji Maharaj. Right to the Mena Darwaja stands the office complex of Shivaji’s eight chief secretaries.

Other places of interest:

The Ammunition Depot, Bara tanki(which is more than a dozen of gigantic water reservoirs), Wagh Darwaja, Rameshwar Mandir, Takmak Tok – an execution place for criminals are some of the many places which are worth a visit. A trip to Shivaji's honored tomb and his faithful dog Waghya ought not to be missed by his admirers.

Nearby Attractions:

Gandhar Pale:

These caves which belong to the Buddhist period are situated near Mahad, which is close to Raigad fort

Ganpatipule:

There is an ancient temple of Lord Ganesh positioned on a beautiful beach side refreshes ones senses

Harihareshwar:

The well-known temple of Lord Shiva, built by the great Peshwas is located on the seashore here. The beach is plainly superb and should not be missed

Mahabaleshwar:

The celebrated hill station of Maharashtra-Western Ghats is situated only 75-km from the fort site.

Shivthar Ghal:

This place is known as the sacrosanct abode of Swami Ramdas, the Guru of Maharaja Shivaji.

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Trekking

For its immense beauty Raigad essentially remains a hiker’s paradise. Admirable trekking places exist all around Fort Raigad.

Fort Torana:

The fort lies on the east at a distance of 30-km and is clearly visible from Raigad.

Fort Lingana:

This fort is 3-km in the western Sahyadri range. At a height of 2,969 feet from the sea level the place was used to house prisoners by Shivaji Maharaj.

Birwadi - Raigad Trek:

Village Birwadi is 24-km away from Raigad. The trek is along the river Kal which makes the journey refreshing and enjoyable.

Nijampur - Fort Mangad - Raigad Trek:

Nijampur is on the northwest at a distance of 16-km from Raigad. This is a stunning trek that one can enjoy by foot. But be sure that you lots of water with you.

Mahad Trek:

The trek is of 21-km down the river Gandhari up to Konzar, then via Pachad to Raigad.


How to get there:

Air: Nearest airport is Pune, 126 kms.

Rail: On the Konkan railway the nearest station is Veer-Dasgaon. From here the tourists have to take a bus or taxi to Raigad.

Road: There are many exciting courses to Raigad, varying from the relatively easy to the challenging. It can be an adventure-filled day excursion from the hill station of Mahabaleshwar or from Pune . Raigad is at a distance of 140-km from Mumbai, 75-km from Mahabaleshwar, 150-km from Pune.

State Transport buses work from Mumbai, Mahad and Pune to Raigad.

Rope-way is available from foot-hills to the top of the fort (seasonal). On foot, one has to climb about 1450 steps from foot-hill to the top of the Fort.

Sea: From the Gateway of India to Alibaug by motor launch one can reach in just 45 minutes. From there the rest of the distance can be covered by road up to Raigad.

Accomodation:

The place which is a frequented tourist area is highly hospitable. Various resorts and hotels are present throughout some of which are:

Hotel Rugby

The Byke A Hotel Retreat

Ayush resort

Apart from these many self-contained rooms (6 blocks) and Dormitories (2 blocks without beds which can home 100 tourists are also available. However they are mostly closed in monsoons. Hence a check should be made before hand.