9 out of 10 people in Maharashtra know about the Raigad Fort and most of the history books in our school must have mentioned about it too! Raigad Fort was was the premier capital of the powerful Maratha Kingdom of Shivaji Maharaj. Though you have to go through rigorous 1700 steps to reach the fort, but the hard work is certainly worth it as it is one of the most beautiful and strongest forts of India. From the aerial view, the entire fort appears like a crown which itself depicts the wonderful architecture & engineering used to make this fort during that time.
Location and Getting at Raigad Fort:
The fort, which rises 820 meters (2,700 ft) above sea level, is located in the Sahyadri mountain range.
Distance: 204 km S of Mumbai
Travel Time By road 5 hrs
When to go: June to September; November to March
Getting there from Mumbai :
Route: NH17 to Mahad via Panvel, Kolad and Dasgaon; district road to Raigad
Things to see and do at Raigad Fort:
Shivaji’s father, Shahji Bhonsle, had selected Rairi Hill near Mahad as a suitable capital because of its unscalable rock face. The fort that Shivaji later built atop Rairi, where he crowned himself under a chhatri and thus became ‘Chhatrapati’, and where he died, remained unconquered throughout his lifetime. There was only one path up and throughout his reign the king offered handsome gifts to people who could figure out unconventional methods of making it to the top undetected.
Raigad fort is accessible only from one side through a pathway, while the other three sides are surrounded by valleys. The gates of the fort — Nagarkhana Darwaja, Mena Darwaja, Maha Darwaja and the Palkhi Darwaja – still stand and are a pointer to its grandeur. While Maha Darwaja was the main entrance of the fort, the Palkhi Darwaja was the one Shivaji used.
Raigad Trek :
It takes 2-3 hours to hike starting from Pachad village. You can take cable car. If you do that you can visit small but interesting museum at the base station. You will also get to see the short documentary as a part of Rope way package and also will get guides once you reach the fort.
Among the attractions inside the fort are the queen’s quarters, ruins of watch towers, the balekilla or the citadel and the durbar hall. Perhaps the biggest attraction inside the fort is Shivaji’s samadhi or tomb alongside which is a memorial to his pet dog Waghya, who is believed to have jumped into the king’s pyre.
Takmak Cliff and Lingmala Rockface can be exhilarating for rock climbers. On the top, you can see the gutted Queen’s Palace, as well as the granaries, Raj Bhavan and Takmak Tok, or the ‘punishment point, from where Shivaji’s enemies were unceremoniously hurled down into the valley.
There are also Gangasagar Lake, which apparently has waters from the Ganga brought here for Shivaji’s coronation, Jijamata Palace and Jagadishwar Temple nearby to visit.
Where to Stay and Eat?
There are limited accommodation options in the fort. Accommodation is available only for 50 tourists. One can also opt to stay at the MTDC-run lodge. It is advisable to book rooms in advance.
MTDC Resort (Cell: 09422787776, 09422787705; Tariff: INR 1,100-2,200; mtdcresort.com(*Prices may vary)), near the fort, has a fantastic location. It offers 10 rooms, a dorm, and has a restaurant.
Raigad fort offers limited eating options. While you will find shacks selling typical Maharashtrian food it is advisable to carry your own food and water.