Sunday, November 8, 2009

7 to 8-Nov-2009 Raigad

Raigad has a special place in the history. Shivaji Maharaj ruled from this place from 1670 till 1680. His coronation was performed on this fort. He breathed his last in this fort.

Shivaji Maharaj moved the capital from Rajgad to Raigad in 1670. Raigad was perceived comparatively safe and isolated. Rajgad was becoming increasingly susceptible to enemy attack.

Location and getting there
Raigad can be approached from 2-3 different routes.

a) Mahad – Pachad
From Mahad on Mumbai Goa highway, there are buses to Pachad. However the frequency is irregular. Occasionally one can take a six seater or a local cab to Pachad from Mahad. The distance is 24 kms.
b) Mangaon – Pachad
From Mangaon on Mumbai Goa highway, go towards Mahad. In between, there is a road towards Pachad on the left. There is a signboard indicating the way to the ropeway.

More information about the fort can be found on this page: Raigad Fort

10:30 PM Start from Pune
We started from Pune by a private bus. Since this was a trip to Raigad, a big bus was almost full with participants from all ages (4 – 70 years). Some of them would take the ropeway to the top if they cannot climb. But they were there to see the important monument. Some others rued because of the missed opportunity.

3:00 AM Halt at Pachad
The bus reached Pachad around 3:00 AM. We slept in a local school for the night. The school is actually a big hall with grills on the upper side. By 4:00 AM we could find a place and slept. By 5:30 AM, we were given a wakeup call. This sleep although for a short duration was very refreshing as it was on the ground.

Actually Pachad is on the machi of Raigad. This village had a palace of Jijabai, the mother of Shivaji. She could not tolerate the wind on the top of the fort. Her samadhi is little outside Pachad village. Today, very few people visit such an important place. This village also had a provision to station nearly 10,000 horses.

7:00 AM Started the climb
After having a breakfast, we started towards the base of the fort. The bus dropped us near the pass. Some of us proceeded to the ropeway. If we look towards East from the pass, there is another village below. This is Raigadwadi – the base village for the fort. The old route to the fort started from this village. This village had a marketplace for the fort.

Just outside the village, the main entrance to the way lies in a dilepid condition. This is Nane (Coin) entrance. In the earlier times, some coins used to be dropped in a container as entrance tax near this door. Hence the name. Later the name got corrupted to Nana entrance. Today, the place lies in ruins. Hardly anyone visits the place. There are traces of the old route still visible from places. It is surrounded by thick vegetation. It is advisable to visit this place with some local help.

There is one hotel in the pass from which we start our ascent. Takmak Point can be seen from this place. There is a board of Chit entrance. Today, we do not find any trace of any entrance. There was never one! If we climb nearly 150 steps, there is a bastion with some fortification. This bastion was Khoobladha bastion. The Chit entrance was in Khoobladha bastion. This was a smaller entrance. The main entrance to the fort was from the Nane entrance.

After climbing nearly 250 steps from Khoobladha bastion, we come to a level path with deep valley on one side and a cliff on the other side. A little ahead, the path turns left. There is a small pathway to descend on the right. There are signs of fortification. This place is called Walsure Khind (pass). Probably there must have been an entrance on this place. The altitude of this place is 510 m from the sea level.

A little ahead of Walsure pass, there lies Masjid Morcha. From here if we see left, we can see the old pathway in ruins. One small pathway on the left takes us to some caves called Andherya facing West. There is a least probability that these were used for storing grains as rains would lash from the West. These are probably some ancient caves.

Further climb takes if to the main entrance. It is said that the entrance is in the form on Gomukh (mouth of a cow). But it resembles more to the horns of Edka (buffalo). This structure can be seen from the top (near Hatti) lake. The entrance is not visible until one comes very close to it. This arrangement was used to conceal the movement. The entrance has carvings of Gand Bherud and Sharabh. Inside the entrance, there were places for the soldiers. On the top, we can see remnants of old fortifications.

After some more climb, we reach Hatti lake. On the left side of the path, there is one iron pillar nearly six inches tall. It has a ring on the top. This was probably a Sun dial. Similar Sun dials can be found on Rajmachi fort and Surgad near Kolad on Mumbai-Pune highway.

Just near the Sun dial, we see one dry lake. This is called (Hatti) Elephant lake. It cannot hold water even during rainy season. Probably it was named as Hat (dead in Sanskrit) lake. One can see some carvings on the walls of this lake with binoculars.

If we climb little further, there is a bigger lake. This is Gangasagar lake. Currently it supplies water to the entire fort. There are couple of restaurants near the lake. During the summer when the water dries up, one can see that there were some caves near the bottom of the lake. We can also see the traces of stone bricks being excavated from the bed of the lake.

Near the Gangasagar lake, there are Hanuman carvings on a stone wall.

A little further, we can see a small temple on the right hand side. This is Shirkaai (Tulja Bhavani) temple. Shirkaai is considered to be the patron deity of the fort. Just beside the Shirkaai temple, there is a basement in rectangular shape. This is called Shirkaai's gharta (nest). Probably this is where earlier temple was. The present temple was constructed in 1926 along with the samadhi of Shivaji Maharaj. Behind the Shirkaai temple, there is a stone plate. This is the Sati shila of Putalabai. She died as a sati after death of Shivaji Maharaj. Originally this was beside the place which we now recognize as Wahya's samadhi. Someone moved it near Jagadeeshwara temple. It was broken into three pieces in the movement. We can clearly see the cement joins.

The ground in front of the Shirkaai temple is called Holicha Maal. Here Holi and other festivals used to be celebrated.

On the North side of the Holicha Maal, there is a block. Currently it is known as Hatti Khana - a place to stay for the elephants. However a close scruitiny will not confirm to this version. Currently archeological department has their office there.

The dimensions of this house are 25 * 12 meters from outside. The walls are 1.5 meters thick. The porch is 3 meters wide.
  • It has seven steps. Currently only three steps can be seen. Other steps are buried below the soil. An elephant house never has any steps.
  • There were two wooden pillars 1.5 meters apart near the entrance of the building. Even if elephant climbs stairs, how would it pass through these pillars?
  • The entire building has six windows. The building would have limited light and ventilation. Elephant is basically a wild animal. It cannot stay in an enclosed building. It becomes cruel if kept in an enclosed atmosphere.
  • The building does not have any slope to the ground. It has only one outlet near the entrance (probably to drain out the excess rainwater). An Elephant house has slope to the ground to carry urine and excreta. It has outlets for the same. Each elephant is kept separate unlike cows.
The building does not have any traces of pillars for the roof. Probably there never were ones. The building was probably open to the sky. During any performance, the roof used to be covered by a cloth.
The building confirms to the specifications for a theater as laid down by Kautilya in Arthashastra.

Right next to Hatti Khana, there are 43 blocks opposite to each other. On each side there is an opening in the middle to pass the sections. The two rows are 12 meters apart thus forming an broad pathway. The last block is half. The structure of each block is same. There was a veranda spanning the breadth of the block. Behind the veranda, there was one enclosed room. Behind the room, there was another room covering the breadth of the block. The height of each of these blocks is nearly 4 feet from the ground. There are steps to go to the veranda of the block. Currently, this structure is called as marketplace. However, there are references that the marketplace for the fort was at the base of the fort in Raigadwadi. It would be logistically difficult to transport all the goods in a marketplace on the top of the fort. It would also be strategically unthinkable to give an open access so near the palace. What important item could be shopped on an horseback? Henry Oxenden, the English ambassador stayed on the fort from 22-May-1674 to 6-Jun-1674. He wrote a detailed description of the fort. He never mentioned about any marketplace on the fort. According to one view point, this could have been office complex for lesser important offices. (The more important ones would be in the fortress itself.) The construction predates Shivaji's era. Until that time, it was never an important place. Who would have constructed the structure and what could have been the purpose?

After crossing these offices, the path turns right and goes to Jagadeeshwara temple. There are some houses on this turn. The pathway on the left hand side goes to Takmak point. The wind blows heavily here. Some iron railings are installed for safety. The height of this point is 850 meters from the sea level. The Takmak point has nearly 400 meters straight fall. Offenders used to be thrown from this point.

Just before Takmak point, there are two buildings almost intact. If the roof is put on them, they can be functional again. We can notice that their pillars are slightly above ground. These are referred as ammunition depots. But they can only be grain storage. Had these been ammunition depots, they should have been destroyed when the English bombarded the fort in May 1818.

From here, we come back to the way to Jagadeeshwara temple. Actually we enter the temple from behind. Just before the temple, on the left hand side there is Kolim lake. There are some tanks on the right hand side also. The temple is situated on the highest point of the fort. The hieght from the sea level is 890 meters.

The Jagadeshwara (Wyadeshwara) temple is a Shiva temple facing East. The top of the temple is Islamic architecture. Even the temple on Pratapgad is similar in architecture. This was not to confuse Muslim invaders as the story would make us believe. And this structure was not a mosque earlier. Probably temple construction was forgotten in this area after Yadava dynasty due to long Islamic rule. Hence the structure. There was construction on all four sides of the temple. Probably there were verandas (osari) where pilgrims could stay. There are some windows on the sides. The Nandi in front of the temple is crude and uncharacteristically large in size. Inside the temple, it is serene. There is a Shiva linga in the sanctom.

Just outside the front entrance of the temple on the East, there is a samadhi of the Shivaji Maharaj. The present construction is of 1928. On the right side of this Samadhi, there is veranda (osari). Just a a ahead, on a plain ground, there is a samadhi of Waghya dog. It is told to us that the dog was faithful to Shivaji Maharaj and he jumped into the pyre. A close scruitiny, a little thought will throw some questions.
  • If someone leapt into the pyre, how come the samadhis are different?
  • Why the funeral pyre was lit exactly in front of the temple on a ground with slope whereas just a little ahead there was ample plain ground (where the current Waghya's samadhi is said to be present)?
  • The samadhi is octagonal. Usually the samadhis are rectangular.
  • Presently the temple does not have any light tower (Dweep Stambha). Even small temples have light towers, sometimes multiple of them. Light towers are usually octagonal or with more sides. The base of the structure of the samadhi is exactly same as another tower in the fortress (Balekilla).
  • There was no mention that Shivaji Maharaj had a pet dog.
  • Putalabai, one of the queens died as a sati after nearly two months. The sati shila (plate) was originally kept near where Waghya's samadhi is present. It is quite logical that the spots of both the funerals were exactly the same.

On East side, we see one pinnacle rising straight. This is Lingana pinnacle. On the further East side, we can see Rajgad. On the South East side, we can see Madhu Makarandgad.

On further East side from the temple, there were barracks for the soldiers. This is where the English advocate Henry Oxenden stayed when he was on the fort during the coronation. Nearby, there are two hillocks nearly half a kilometer apart. These were ammunition depots. In May 1818, when the English fired from the Potalya's hill, the ammunition depots were exploded. Hence these structures were destroyed completely.

On further East, there is Bhavani tok (end). There is a Bhavani temple in one small cave. Usually we remove shoes when we enter the temple. Hence nobody generally goes further.

Now we can come back to the Holi grounds. On the left side, there is a pathway. It descends to a small Shiva temple and a lake. This is Kushawarta lake. This area lies on the East side of the fortress in a depression. There are less winds here. Just beside the lake we can see several buildings in the ruins. These were probably houses of the important eight ministers. The lake wall had two grills on the top. Currently only one grill can be seen. The other one is stolen. They were probably outlets when the lake overflew. At the base of this wall, there is an outlet in the form of a mouth of a cow. This was to drain the lake if needed. On the other side of the lake, there is a construction which was probably a rain measuring device. It has three inlets on the top. Water drops would be collected in the tanks below. Thus rain could be measured. The location of the device was ideal as there is less wind in this section. There is a duct on all sides of the tank. Outside water drains through this duct instead of mixing with the water in the tank. Thus the tank collects water only through the three inlets on the top.

From this place, we can reach Wagh Darwaja (entrance). Potlya Hill is right in front of this entrance. The English bombed the fort from this hill.

On the East side of Kushawarta lake, there are 14 tanks known as Barataki. From Jagadeeshwara temple also one can reach this place. One of the tanks has a lion face carved on it.

On the South side of this tank, there are two constructions. They are known as ammunition depots. However a close scruitiny will reveal that they were in fact grain depots. The construction confirms to what has been laid down by Kautilya. The ground is one meter deep. The pillars are nearly half a meter above the ground. This is to prevent the grain from getting wet. There is another grain depot on the way to Takmak point.

Now we come back to the entrance of the palace complex. The entire complex predates Shivaji Maharaj's era as there are no places to fire guns through the walls. Probably it predates to 11th century AD. There is no provision to fire guns. Such provision is common in even smaller houses of later period. This place is known as Nagarkhana erroneously. There is no room to play the Nagara. The construction is of Sarsenic style. The entrance has carvings of a lion holding elephants in all his claws. Similar carvings are on the Mahadarwaja. These symbols were of Vijaynagar empire origin. The upper portion of this entrance is of bricks and limestone. This is of a later period probably to stem the water leakage from the roof.

On either side of the entrance, there are high platforms where the guards would be stationed.

After entering the entrance, there is a courtyard. The place where the throne used to be is exactly in front. On the left hand side, there are two basements (platforms). One smaler and the other larger. On the right hand side, there is an uncut rock right in the courtyard. Probably there was not enough time to cut the rocks into stone bricks. Just beside this uncut rock, there is a small tank. Currently it is burried to level the ground. There was low rise construction on all four sides of the courtyard.

The larger basement was the Sadar, where meetings used to be held. This basement is uncharacteristically wide as compared to the prevaining times. The smaller basement is important from the religious perspective. This is the South East corner of the courtyard. It is considered to be auspicious. The coronation ceremony was performed in this conrner on the smaller basement. The place is marked by a small stone.

The place where throne used to be kept has one statue installed recently. The current walls are of bricks and limestone and constructed in a later era. The throne was nearly 1200 kilograms of gold. When Zulfikarkhan captured Raigad on 9-Nov-1689, he melted the throne into pieces and sent them to Aurangzeb. During the reign of Peshwas, this place used to be worshipped. After the English destroyed the fort, a lot of trees had grown on this complex due to years of neglect.

There are a couple of stories in circulation about this courtyard. On the day of coronation, the Sun rays were straight on the throne. This cannot be true. On 6th June, the day of coronation, the Sun must be extreme North. The entrance is exactly on the East of the throne. Hence the rays cannot fall on the throne.
As per another story, whatever is spoken near the throne is auduable in all the courtyard. This happens due to no noise pollution on the fort.

There are two entrances on either side of the throne. The entrance on the left of the throne is called palanquin palace. Palanquins used to be trafficked through this door. The foundation exactly behind the throne is called Sadar errenously. In fact this was Palanquin palace. The palanquins used to be loaded, unloaded here. There are steps and porch on both sides. There is a straight path from the palace to this place.

Just behind the Palanquin palace, there is a foundation in C shape. This is where the queens and their servents used to stay. Behind the queens' palace, there is another foundation. Probably this was kitchen complex. The foundation behind this was the palace where Shivaji Maharaj used to live. This is where he breathed his last.

On the North side of the palace, there is a water tank with two sections. It was covered with stone grill. The smaller section was probably settlement tank. On the North side, there is an entrance. This leads to goldsmith's workshop. It contained furnaces. There is a plane ground below. This was Khasbag. There were three columns with twelve sides each. Until 1910, the foundation of the third column was present. Now there is no trace of it. Only two columns exist. These columns were ornamental and well ventilated with water pipes. They overlooked the Gangasagar lake.

Near Khasbag, there is one octagonal column. The room near this column has an underground store. This is where the assets like gold, precious stones used to be stored. The structure of this octagonal column is very similar to what is called as samadhi of Shivaji Maharaj today.

On the West side of the palace, there are six blocks. Two of them are independent and four of them are connected by a passage. They are called as Seven Palaces. However for a palace, they look very small in size. And for those times, it was not common for the queens to stay separate from the king. Probably these were six important offices. The two separate office being for the most improtant two departments. Each of these offices had a porch in front of them.

Each of the six blocks contain an architectural marvel. The toilets in these blocks are very much advanced with vent pipes, seat covers. One wonders whom must have thought about such toilets with so much thought. The two seperate blocks have four toilets each. The other blocks have six toilets each.

On the North side of the six offices, there is an entrance with 33 steps. It is termed as Mena Darwaza. There is a provision for the guards at the base of these stairs. It is practically impossible to carry a palanquin with such an elevation. So probably this entrance was used by important persons.

There are five more blocks on the south side of the palace complexes in some depression. They are called as houses of eight ministers. Each block has two rooms and no toilets. But one can imagine that for a person of the stature of a minister, these are small. And where would the other three monisters stay? These were probably other offices of lesser importance. The ministers used to stay near Kushawarta lake. On the South side of the palace complex, there is one door. From this door, one could go to Kushawarta lake where ministers used to stay.

From this entrance, one can go to the rope way and the MTDC cottages.

Hirkani bastion is a natural bastion. It is not constructed. The rock face was cut to make is alomst vertical. The scene from this bastion is very nice.

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