13 majestic forts of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtra

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is one of the most iconic rulers and warriors in the history of Maharashtra. Among several other things, Shivaji was known for his expertise in establishing forts at strategic locations. In the process of founding the Maratha empire, Shivaji conquered, built and re-built several forts along western India. Thanks to him, Maharashtra is home to some of the most humongous and massive forts of India including sea forts such as Sindhudurg and Janjira that are nothing less than architectural marvels.  Since Maharashtra Day 2016 is just round the corner, it seems apt that we look back at some of these breathtakingly beautiful Shivaji forts in Maharashtra.

1. Raigad fort
Perhaps the most significant fort from Shivaji’s reign, Raigad served as his capital and is also where his coronation took place. Having defeated its previous occupant, Chandrarao More of Jawali, Shivaji renamed this fort to Raigad in 1656 CE. He also breathed his last in this very fort. It stands on the Raigad Hill providing scenic views of the surrounding valleys.
The nearest railhead is the Veer railway station on the Konkan route. You can drive up to Mahad from Mumbai on NH 17 and then turn towards Raigad which is 24 kms away.

2. Shivneri fort

Shivneri was the birthplace of the great Maratha warrior. Although Shivaji never ruled the fort, he did try to capture it on two occasions without any success. It makes for a good trekking experience and provides great scenic views.
The nearest railhead is Pune and you can drive down to its base Junnar via the Kalyan-Nanded highway.

3. Sindhudurg fort

Known as one of the finest sea forts in India, Sindhudurg was built on an island in the Konkan region during Shivaji’s reign. The rocks around the fort provided protection and also gave the Maratha naval ships a secured base. Today, the fort is a major tourist attraction with a temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj and also preservation of his hand and foot marks.
The nearest railhead is Kudal along the Konkan railway which is 32 km away from the Malvan area. It falls right on the Mumbai-Goa road route and serves as a great stopover.

4. Pratapgad

Pratapgad is famous on for the encounter between Shivaji and the mighty Afzal Khan. It was here that Shivaji’s true reign began after he defeated Khan making this fort one of the most important one in Maratha history.
The nearest railhead is Vir Dasgaon. You can drive down from Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar from where Pratapgad is just 24 kms away.

5. Panhala

Built in the 12th century, Panhala is one of the oldest forts in Maharashtra. Shivaji spent many days here as this fort was under the Maratha reign from the 17th to the mid-18th century. It provides a great view of the pass connecting the rest of Maharashtra with its coastal areas.
The nearest railhead is Miraj which is just an hour away from Kolhapur. You can drive to Panhala from Kolhapur which falls on the Pune-Bangalore route.

6. Rajgad

A fort where Shivaji spent 24 years of his life, the formidable Rajgad fort is known for its amazing design. It served as Shivaji’s capital until 1672 CE. Today, it is popular among trekkers for the spectacular views of the Sahyadri ranges from atop.
The nearest railhead to reach Rajgad fort is Pune, from where it is an easy 56 kms drive.

7. Lohagad

Lohagad was significant to the Marathas mainly due to its strategic location. It was from here that the trade route through Bor ghat (now known as the Khandala ghat) was guarded. Today, it is a popular trekking destination for Mumbaikars and Puneris and serves as a famous weekend getaway.
The nearest railhead is Malavali on the Mumbai-Pune railway route. You can drive down to Kamshet or Malavali, the base village for the trek, from both Mumbai and Pune.

8. Murud Janjira

And then there is the island fort of Murud Janjira, the fort that Shivaji tried to capture quite a few times, but always failed. The fort is famous for its strategic location and marvelous architecture. On the main gate, you can see the sculpture of a beast holding four elephants in its claws. It symbolizes the power of the Sidis who lived and prospered in this fort. Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji, too tried to tunnel his way through the fort but failed. The Marathas built another sea fort, Kansa, northeast of Janjira.
The nearest railhead is Roha on the Konkan railway line. By road, you can reach Murud through the Mumbai-Goa highway via Revdanda.

9. Purandar fort

The birthplace of Shivaji’s son Samhaji, Purandar is significant mainly due to its role in Shivaji’s victory over the Adil Shahi dynasty and the Mughals. Shivaji captured this fort after revolting against Aurangzeb.
Narayanpur is the base village to trek up to the Purandar fort. You can drive down to Narayanpur from Pune enroute Saswad.

10. Vijaydurg fort

Conquered by Shivaji from Adil Shah in 1653, Vijaydurg was one of his most amazing victory as it was thought of as an impregnable fort. Known for its 40-km long Waghotan creek, the Vijaydurg fort was used to anchor Maratha warships.
The nearest railhead is Kanakavli along the Konkan Railway. You can drive down from Mumbai on Nh-17 to Vijaydurg via Kasarde village.

11. Sinhagad

Perched in the Sahyadri ranges, Sinhgad is one of the most important forts conquered by Shivaji from a military standpoint. Today, it offers great views of the lush green valleys and is a popular trekking destination.
Pune, 30 kmsfrom Sinhgad, is the nearest railhead. You can drive right up to the top of the fort.

12. Suverndurg

Shivaji conquered Suverndurg after defeating Ali Adil Shah of the Shilahar dynasty in 1660. He then rebuilt it making it stronger than before. It falls on the scenic Dapoli coastal stretch and makes for a great getaway from Mumbai and Pune.
The nearest railhead is Khed. You can drive down to from Mumbai to Murud harnai and then take a boat to reach the fort.

13. Torna fort

The first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj at the young age of 16, Torna became the most glorious chapter in the history of Shivaji’s conquests. He renamed it Prachandagad and also built some new monuments inside it. A visit to the fort during monsoon is a favorite tourist activity for people from Mumbai and Pune.
The nearest railhead is Pune. You can drive down to the base village of Velhe from where the trek begins.

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