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Friday, November 19, 2010

Sinhagad Fort : A Photo Feature

Sinhagad ( The Lion's Fort ) , is located at a distance of 35 kms from the city of Pune. It is situated on a hill rising 800 metres above the surrounding countryside.

Pune(Kothrud)-Warje-Uttamnagar-Khadakwasla dam-Donjai-Sinhagad (12km climb).

Note: A tar road takes one around the hill, right upto the maachi.

Earlier it was known as Kondhana (a.k.a Kandakala) after Sage Kaundinya who was said to have meditated there.
Though the fort is said to be almost two thousand years old, its fortification may have started in the fourteenth century. It was then in the occupation of the local Koli tribes under Koli chieftain Nag Nayak, until the fort was captured by Muhammed Bin Tughlaq in 1328.
Later the fort came in possesion of the Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar and remained with them for a considerable time (there is a mention of Burhan Nizamshah having imprisoned a rebellious sardar,Nasir Ul Mulk on Kondhana. Shah Muhammed the sardar of Hussain Nizamshah (son of Burhan Nizamshah), had Nasir Ul Mulk killed, after he had made an unsuccessfull attempt to side with Hussains rebellious brothers against his Nizam.).
Later the fort passed hands to the Bijapuri Sultanate after the eclipse of the Nizamshahi.
Shivajis aide Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande bribed the killedar (fortkeeper) of the fort , Siddi Ambar and secured the possesion of the fort for Shivaji (in 1647). In 1649, Adilshah of Bijapur imprisoned Shahajiraje (father of Shivaji) and Shivaji had to hand over the fort back to Adilshah in order to secure his fathers release. But he captured it once again in 1656. The fort faced many unsuccessfull mughal attacks, until the Purander treaty, whereby, cornered, Shivaji handed Kondana over to Mirza Raje Jaisingh, the commander of the Mughal forces.
One of the most famous battles (Battle of Sinhagad) for Sinhagad was fought to recapture the fort by Tanaji Malusare, a commander of Shivaji (in March 1670). It is generally believed that it was after this battle that the Kondhana fort was renamed as Sinhagad, in the memory of Tanaji Malusare, after Shivaji nicknamed Tanaji as 'the lion' (Sinha), for having spearheaded the attack and dying a martyrs death.
But some Shivkaalin documents ,uncovered, have proved that the name Sinhagad existed well prior to Tanajis death.
Sinhagad was then under the control of its killedar, Udaybhan Rathod, a brave and fierce Rajput warrior.
A legend has grown that upon hearing of Tanaji's death, Shivaji remorsed with the words "Gad ala pan Sinha gela" (The fort has been captured but the lion has been lost).But that is more due to a novel by author H.N.Apte , having a similar sounding title.
As per Sabhasad bakhar ,an old treatise on Shivaji, the king was said to have retorted, 'Ek gadh aalaa pun ek gadh (fort) gelaa," meaning one fort was won, but another was lost.
Sabhasad bakhar even contradicts another popular folklore, that Tanaji climbed the fort with the help of a 'Ghorpad' (a mountain monitor). But Sabhasad bakhar nowhere mentions the use of a 'ghorpad', but rather mentions Tanaji and his mavalaas having climbed the fort similar to vaanars (monkeys).
Shivaji then awarded the 'killedari' of the fort to Suryaji Malusare, the brother of Tanaji, who had also actively participated in the attack along with their maternal uncle Shelar mama. They had continued the onslaught after Tanaji was killed.It is said that after Tanaji succumbed, it was the old Shelar mama that continued the fight with Udaybhan Rathod and struck him dead.
Tanajis young son, Raiba and his family were gifted the villages below the fort in reward for Tanajis services.
After the death of Sambhaji Maharaj,his lieutenant,Santaji Ghorpade carried out a daring raid on the mughal emperor,Aurangzebs personal camp and after creating chaos, it was in Sinhagad that, Santaji sought refuge.
The fort remained in Maratha hands till 1689, until it was captured by Aurangzeb.
In 1693, Marathas under Sardar Naavji Balkawde and Sardar Vithoji Kaarke (both pancha hazari infantry division heads) recaptured Sinhagad in an equally daring and breathtaking attack on the fort.
Shivajis younger son , Chatrapati Rajaram sought refuge in the fort after being chased by the mughal army, post an raid on their camp at Jalna. Just before the Jalna raid, Rajaram had personally taken part in extensive campaigns in Marathwada and Khandesh. This took its toll on the king and Rajaram died due to a stroke after vommitting blood on the Sinhagad fort premises.This was in the year 1700.
In 1703 , Aurangzeb recaptured the fort (he renamed it 'Bakshindabaksh' or reward of the Gods) after a long seige, but in 1706, it once again passed into Maratha hands due to the efforts of Trimbak Shivdev Mutalik, Pant Pratinidhi and Ramji Phatak.
The ‘killedari’ (guardianship of the fort) was entrusted with Shankaraji Narayan Sachiv and remained so with two of his subsequent heirs viz.Narayan Shankar and Chimnaji Narayan .
Chimnaji Narayan came into conflict with the then erstwhile Peshwa, Nanasaheb, after the former joined forces with Rani Tarabai against her tussle with the Peshwa. As a result the occupancy of Sinhagad was taken over by the Peshwas themselves.
Whenever the Peshwai faced any impending danger, the Peshwas always trusted the safe confines of Sinhagad to guard their wealth and their deities.Whether it was when the Nizam raided Pune or when it was during the attack of Janoji Bhosale , after he drew swords against the Peshwa.
It was in the Sinhagad fort that Peshwa Bajirao II sought refuge when Yeshwantrao Holkar was ravaging Pune. It was through Sinhagad that the Peshwa Bajirao II escaped to Vasai to sign his infamous treaty with the British, to seek their protection against Yeshwantrao Holkar.
The fort remained with the marathas until 1818, after which the British occupied the fort after a seige of almost three months.
One can see Tanaji Malusares samadhi on the fort and also the samadhi of his adversary Udaybhan Rathod. The samadhi of Rajaram Maharaj can also be found on this fort.
The bungalows of Lokmanya Tilak (something he purchased after his prison sentence in Mandalay jail) and famous Marathi Poet G.D. Madgulkar (Ga Di Ma ) are also located on the fort. It was on this fort that Lokmanya Tilak wrote his famous book, ‘Arctic home in the Vedas’. It was on this fort that Mahatma Gandhi sought audience with Lokmanya Tilak to discuss the political future of India. It was on Sinhagad that Subhaschandra Bose temporarily resided during his stay in Pune.
Dev Take - famous tank with sweet and cold water - is popular amongst the tourists.
Sweet curd, Buttermilk,and maharashtrian delicacies like Kaanda bhaji and Pithla-Bhaakari of Sinhagad are amongst the main attractions for the people.
There is also a small temple dedicated to lord Kondaneshwar (Shiva) besides a Sati temple (Saticha haath) on the fort.

Pic: Pune Darwaza , the main entrance

Pic: One of the entrances

Pic: One of the entrances

Pic: Balekilla

Pic: Hanuman mandir built by Ramdas swami

Pic: Toffkhana , place to store gunpowder

Pic:Ghodyachya Paga or Horse stables

Pic: Tanaji Malusare samadhi

Pic: Kalyani Darwaza (that leads one down to Kondhanpur village).

Pic;Tanaji kada

Pic: Dev Talao (Hatti Talao) a water reservoir/tank

Pic: Ganesh talao

Pic: Amruteshwar temple

Pic: Kondaneshwar temple

Pic: cannon channel

Pic: Lokmanya Tilak samadhi and bunglow

Pic: Chatrapati Rajaram samadhi

Pic: Udaybhan Rathod samadhi

[Text Information source Maharashtra Tourism site, Kondhana by Mahesh Mangesh Tendulkar and Wikipedia, Photograph source Abhijit Rajadhyaksha]


  1. Nice photos Abhijit, I think your camera has captured Sinhagad very well.

  2. Thank you Ashish. I hope the pictures will give future trekkers on Sinhagad a idea about what all to visit.