Raigard fort is the strongest fort situated in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Raigad was built by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and later turned into the capital of Maratha Empire after he was crowned the king. The fort was named Rairi by Chandraraoji More. It was then expanded and refurbished into a huge and strong fort. Shivaji Maharaj renamed it Raigad. Raigad and the villages surrounding it were considered extremely important. Panchad village lies beneath the fort is the start to the climb of Raigad. When Raigad was captured by Aurangzeb, he named it as Islamgad. But the name was for short period until Maratha Empire recaptured it.
Raigad is well-engineered and strong. The chief architect of Raigad Hiroji Indulkar. It was mainly built of wood. The main palace contains a queens chamber, six other chambers with private restrooms. Raigad fort has ruins of a market that was convenient for the horse riders. Maha Darwaja is the only way pathway to the fort. This Darwaja used to be closed after sunsets. Bastions on the sides of the door are huge to about 60-70 feet in height. An artificial lake called Ganga Sagar Lake can be seen from the fort. Mena Darwaja was the second entrance which was private for the women in the fort. This entrance was lead to the queens chamber. Palkhi Darwaja was used by the king and the guards. It is believed that there were granaries.
The fort also has an execution place Takmak Tok. It is a cliff where the prisoners pushed off for wrongdoings. Where the market was situated, statue of Shivaji Maharaj was built followed by Jadhishwar Mandir, temple in devotion to Lord Jadhishwar and his own Samadhi and Waghya’s, his dog. Samadhi of Jijabai, Shivaji Maharaj’s mother is is placed in the village of Panchad. Other tourist attraction can be seen in Raigad like Nane Darwaja, Hatti Talav. Raigad is a popular tourist spot because of its spectacular view of Sahyadri Hills.
Story of Harkini is well known, even today. A film was made based on her story. The importance of this name in Maratha Empire is her courage and unconditional mother’s love. Hirkini was a woman from a nearby village who used to come to sell milk. Gates used to close after sunset and one day was locked inside the fort. She heard her son cry after dusk she could not resist herself and climbed the dangerous cliff for her child. She was awarded by Shivaji Maharaj after he saw repeat the same feat. This award was in honor of her courage and bravery that she showed. To climb a steep cliff like the one of Raigad fort was not easy. She could not have done it if it wasn’t for the sake her liitle one.
The strong Raigad fort was destroyed by cannons in 1818. This fort was later handed over to the British East India Company on 9th May, 1818. Though, the structure may not be of the same sound but the history of courage of Martha Empire is reflected in its tall standing. It is a must visit to Raigad to witness the authenticity of the rich empire.
Categories: Culture and History