Pune is one of the major cities in India and the second major city in the state of Maharashtra, after Mumbai. It is located about ~170 km from Mumbai. Pune is connected with Mumbai through an expressway, a national highway, a rail and an air route. Well connected with rest of India as well. This historical city, synonymous with the Maratha empire has grown into a modern metropolis. It has offices of many multinational IT companies, it is a manufacturing, automotive and auto ancillary hub and a center of education. The city is located on the banks of the Mutha river. The city has many historic buildings and places such as Shaniwar Wada, Lal Mahal and Parvati Hill. Several forts such as Sinhagad, Purandar and Lohgad are located near Pune. Main tourist attractions in Maharashtra like Lonavala, Khandala, Kaas Plateau, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are close to Pune. Even Goa is about 9 to 10 hour journey from Pune.
Sinhagad – The might of the Maratha Empire
This fort, earlier known as Kondhana, is located ~ 35 km from Pune. Some records suggest that this fort could be 2000 years old. At 1312 m above mean sea level, the location of this fort is very strategic – enabling a view of the entire region from the top and the narrow approach with steep slopes making the ascent very difficult. The commander of the fort could control the entire region easily. Due to its strategic location the fort saw many attacks.
In 1665, through the treaty of Purandar, the fort was passed on to the commander of the Mughal Army – Mirza Raje Jai Singh. The fort was conquered again by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the year 1670. Tanaji Malusare was the commander of the Maratha Army. The battle for Kondhana took place on the night of 4 February 1670. In order to achieve the element of surprise the Maratha Army climbed the fort from a side which had almost 90 degree vertical cliff. It is said that Tanaji Malusare had planned marriage of his son, but when he knew about the intention of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to capture Kondhana, he agreed to capture the fort first. Tanaji lost his life during the battle of Kondhana. Knowing about this Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj said – गड आला पण सिंह गेला (the fort is captured, but the lion is lost).
Trek to the fort with friends
The elevation of the fort from sea level is 4320 ft. (~1310 m). There is a motorable road which goes to the fort. The trek starts from the base village and takes about 1 – 2 hours and involves an ascent of about 800 m. I had gone to Pune to meet my friends from college days on 1 and 2 January 2021 and we decided to do this trek. I was meeting my friends after many years. What a reunion it was! The earlier evening we all had reached the base village and stayed at a bunglow. Had our dinner together and remembered our college life without mobile phones and internet. Next morning we started the trek around 8:30 AM and reached the top at 10:15 AM. At many places the path is narrow, has loose gravel and stones and a steep incline. Along the way there are many stalls which sell water bottles, cucumbers, gooseberries, mangoes and lemon water. The uphill climb drenched me in sweat completely ! Had to stop at a couple of places for lemon water. Experienced the fear of slipping on the loose gravel, but continued the ascent. Once you reach the top of the fort you can see the ruins of a mighty fort.
Inside the fort there are plenty of shops selling traditional Maharashtrian dishes such as “Zunka Bhakar” / “Pithala Bhakar”, “Matki Usal”, “Vada Pav” and “Kanda Bhaji”. Along with these curd and buttermilk (taak) is served in earthen cups.
Avoid coming here over the weekends or during long vacations – it is difficult to find parking and the narrow approach road becomes even narrower as people park vehicles on the approach road itself.
Sayonara ! फिर मिलेंगे ! Bye Friends !
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