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|Location||Pune, Maharashtra, India|
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Sinhagad, Sinhgarh, or Sinhgad (The Lion's Fort), is a fortress located roughly 30 kilometres southwest of the city of Pune, India. Previously called Kondhana (Marathi: कोंढाणा), the fort has been the site of many important battles, most notably the Battle of Sinhagad in 1670. It was also strategically located at the centre of a string of other forts such as Rajgad, Purandar and Torna.
Perched on an isolated cliff of the Bhuleswar range of the Sahyadri Mountains, it is situated on a hill rising 1312 metres above sea level. Given natural protection by its very steep slopes, the walls and bastions were constructed at only key places; it has two gates – the Kalyan Darwaza in the south-east and the Pune Darwaza in the north-east.
This fort has had quite a long history, It was called 'Kondana' after the sage Kaundinya. The Kaundinyeshwar temple, the caves and the carvings indicate that this fort had probably been built two thousand years back. It was captured from the Koli tribal chieftain, Nag Naik, by Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1328 AD.
Shahaji Bhosale, as the commander of Ibrahim Adil Shah I, was entrusted with the control of the Pune region. His son Shivaji, however, refused to accept the Adilshahi and initiated the task of setting up Swarajya. He gained control of Kondana in 1647 by convincing Siddi Amber, the Adilshahi Sardar who controlled the fort. Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande played key role in this activity. In 1649, it had to be handed over to Adil Shah for Shahaji Maharaj's release. Shivaji Maharaj recaptured it back in 1656 again with the help of Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande,who convinced Fort commander by giving land in newly created Shivapur village and peacefully gained control of fort. This fort saw attacks by Mughals in 1662, 1663 and 1665. In 1664, Shahistekhan, the Mughal general, even tried to bribe people of fort to hand over the fort to him but he was unsuccessful. Through the Treaty of Purandar, it passed into the hands of the Mughal army chief Mirzaraje Jaysingh, in the year 1665. In 1670, Shivaji Maharaj re-conquered this fort and then it stayed under Maratha rule till 1689. After the death of Sambhaji, the Mughals regained control f the fort. The Marathas, headed by Sardar Balkawade, recaptured it in 1693. Chatrapati Rajaram took asylum on this fort during Mogul raid on Satara but Rajaram died on Sinhagad on the 3rd of March 1700 & in 1703 Aurangzeb conquered the fort. In 1706, it once again went into the hands of the Marathas. Pantaji Shivdev of Sangola, Visaji Chafar and the Pant Pratinidhis played key role in this battle. Then this fort remained with Marathas till 1818, when the British conquered it. British however took three months to capture this fort, which was longest it took them to win any fort in Maharastra.
Battle of Sinhagad
One of the most famous battles for Sinhgad was fought to recapture the fort by Tanaji Malusare, a general of Shivaji in March 1670. A steep cliff leading to the fort was scaled with the help of a monitor lizard named yashwanti, colloquially known as a ghorpad. Thereafter, there ensued fierce battles between Tanaji and his men, and the mughal army headed by Udaybhan Singh Rathod a Rajput sardar, that had the fort at the time. Tanaji lost his life, but his brother Suryaji took over and captured Kondana.
There is an anecdote that upon hearing of Tanaji's death, Shivaji expressed his remorse with the words: "Gad aala pan sinha gela" - "We gained the fort, but lost the lion". The name Sinhagad, though, pre-dates this event, and can be seen in written communiques from the era. A bust of Tanaji has been established on the fort in memory of his contribution to the battle. It remains to this day a grand symbol of a great Maratha victory.
Pune is well known for its forts and its hilly areas, which attract trek lovers in huge numbers. Sinhagad Fort is located to the southwest of Pune at a distance of 25 km.
The fort was strategically built to provide natural protection. There are only two gates to enter the fort, the Kalyan Darwaza and Pune Darwaza which are positioned at the south east and north-east ends respectively.
Some of the information available at this fort suggests that the fort could have been built 2000 years ago. The caves and the carvings in the Kaundinyeshwar temple stand as proofs for the same.
Parts of the once extensive fortification are now in ruins, but visitors can get a sense how the fort acted as an active military outpost. It is a popular weekend destination for many residents of Pune, with some enthusiasts trekking to the top of the fort from the base near Sinhgad village. The site also houses a memorial to Tanaji as well as the tomb of Rajaram, Shivaji's younger son, who also died here. Visitors can see the military stables, brewery and a Kali (goddess) temple along with a Hanuman statue much to the right side of the temple, as well as the historic gates.
The fort is also part of training at National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. Cadets from the academy are regularly sent on a hikes and runs from NDA to Sinhagad in full battle gear to build endurance and stamina. The fort also houses a television tower for broadcasting local TV signals.
Non-vegetarian food, alcoholic drinks and smoking is strictly prohibited on the fort.
There is a steep and narrow two lane road from the base of the fort to the top. In between the road is in bad condition and currently getting reconstructed. Also you have to pay vehicle toll at the base of the fort to continue your journey to the top. The local municipal transport service, the PMPML, runs buses every hour from Shaniwarwada and Swargate − to the Sinhagad foothills at Donje village. The climbing route from either side of the fort can be covered in around an hour, however it gets slippery in the rainy season. Shared taxi services to the base as well as the top of the mountain are also available.
People can trek anytime of the day from a village besides Khadakwasla Lake to Sinhagad Fort. After parking your vehicle at paid parking made by local villagers in the compound of their home one can start his way up to the fort. Night trekking is preferred on Saturday evenings as the many small shops to buy water and snacks on way up remains open through out the night, which are otherwise shut down after sunset during rest of the week.
- "Sinhagad Fort". Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- Sudheer Birodkar. "Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the National Revival under the Marathas". hindubooks.org.
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