Having grown up reading Maratha history at school and a dose of Amar Chitra Katha stories about Shivaji, a trip to Sinhagad was a great way of refreshing all the history lessons from my childhood. Sinhagad literally means Lion’s Fort. It is located around 30-35 kms from Pune on a hill (about 800 metres high) and is a lovely spot for making a day trip.
Sinhagad, which was earlier called Kondhana, was strategically important for the Marathas because it was located at the centre of other important forts like the Purandar, Rajgad and Torna and they captured the fort every time it was snatched away from them. But Sinhagad is significant in Maratha history primarily because of the Battle of Sinhagad which was fought in 1670 to recapture the fort from the Mughals. During the battle, Tanaji Malasure, Shivaji’s most reliable lieutenant surprised the enemies by climbing up the steep cliff of the fort with the help of a monitor lizard and putting up a brave fight. Although he died fighting valiantly in the battle, the Marathas were victorious and recaptured the fort. Shivaji is said to have then remarked, ‘Gad aala pan Sinha
’ (The fort has been won but the lion is lost). Today, when one looks down the sharp vertical cliff standing on top of Sinhagad at the same spot, one can only imagine the sheer courage and loyalty of Tanaji. gela
Although one can trek right up to the fort from Sinhagad village at the foothills, we drove up as we were traveling with little kids. However, the road was in a bad shape. From the parking lot, the climb up to the fort was comfortable. It was very hot and there were not many trees on the top providing shade. The steps were uneven in many places and had a lot of gravel. Thankfully, we were prepared for both these conditions with caps and comfortable shoes.
|Pune Darwaza at Sinhagad|
There were two entrances to the fort – Pune Darwaza taken by most visitors and Kalyan Darwaza. A tour around the fort can take even an entire day, depending on how much one wants to explore. There is a Tanaji Smarak (memorial) on top; several water tanks, including the Elephant tank; several temples including a small temple dedicated to Kondhaneshwar; several towers, ammunition storehouse, a rock-cut cave-like horse stable and also the Doordarshan TV tower. One can not only see the majestic Sahyadri ranges from top, one can also spot other forts around. During summer, the mountain ranges look blackish because they are dry with little vegetation. But in monsoons, we were told that they look as if they are covered with green velvet. We would have liked to see more displays depicting a map of the fort, explanation about the history and significance of every spot. The place somehow assumed that every visitor would be familiar with Maratha history. Back in the parking lot, there were many places that served typical Marathi food, but we settled for a glass of buttermilk.
On the way back, we wished we had spent the entire day at the fort, wished we had trekked instead of taking a bumpy road ride and wished that the kids were slightly older to understand what they saw. Anyways, now we have more than one reason to visit Sinhagad again.