Saturday, December 2, 2023

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Sinhagarh Fort

Place : Pune district, Maharashtra
Best Season : October to May
Significance : The fort has the tomb of Tanaji, Shivaji's favourite general. 
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Sinhagarh Fort (Singhagad Fort) lies about 30 km southwest of the city Pune in Maharashtra state. It stands on a high point of the Sahyadris about 1315 meters above sea level. Rising more than 750 meters above the surrounding plain, the fort is strategically located along a line of other forts such as Rajgad, Purandar and Torna.

Previously known as Kondhana after the sage Kaundinya, the fort has been a witness to many historic battles between Mughals and Marathas. It's history goes back to 1340 when the Delhi Emperor Muhammad Tughluq captured the fort from the Koli tribal chieftain, Nag Naik. And in 1496, Malik Ahmad, the founder of the Nizam Shahi dynasty took it. 

Nearly 200 years later, the Maratha leader Shahaji Bhonsale, Shivaji's father (a general in the army of the Adil Shah) captured it. In 1647, Shivaji held the stronghold, renaming it Sinhagad, Lion Fort. Again, the fort subsequently changed hands on several occasions between the Marathas and the Mughals. In 1670, it was again captured by Shivaji, under the direction of Tanaji who was Shivaji's favourite general. 

Legends has it that he and his men used ropes to raise troops and animals up the sheer sides of the hill at night. Aurangazeb laid siege to Sinhagad in 1701- 03, but could not hold it for long. Finally the British seized the fort from the Marathas in 1818 AD. The fort was later used as retreat for many European residents of Pune. 

Situated in the Bhuleshwar range, this triangular ruined fort, is ringed with steep cliffs from which rise sheer walls of basalt more than 40 m high, reinforced by ramparts with regularly spaced towers. On the west flank, the ramparts seal the mouth of a steep gorge. There are two entrances, the Kalyan Darwaza in the south-east and the Pune Darwaza in the north-east, both protected by three successive gates. The hilltop is reached by a path passing through these three gates. The first gate, flanked by a conical tower on the outer face, has a pointed arched recess and battlements. The second Gate is similar, but ruined, the third Gate is complete, with intact towers surrounded by a low wall. The fort has the tomb of Tanaji near the damaged gorge, commemorates the 1670 exploit. It also houses tomb of Rajaram, Shivaji's younger son, who also died here. Several British period bungalows are dotted about.

Sinhagarh is a popular day out for people from Pune, with some enthusiasts trekking to the top of the fort from the base near Sinhagad village. It is about one and half hour trek. From here one can enjoy the majestic view of the mountain valley. The tower of Doordarshan is also there on Sinhagad. The fort also serves as a training centre at National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. One can see the Panshet, Khadakwasla and Varasgaon dams and Torana fort also.