Sinhagad (सिंहगड) is fort adjoining Pune city. It is host to many historical events. It was closely associated with Shivaji Maharaj. The fort is so accessible to Pune that every holiday, several people throng the place as a picnic spot. Just a few years ago, the fort was visible from most of the places in Pune. Due to recent increase in high rise buildings in and around Pune, the fort can be seen from fewer places.
Location and getting there:
a) From Shaniwar Waada, there are city buses plying to the fort. On Sunday, the frequency is very good. It takes more than one hour and thirty minutes to reach the base.
b) From Swargate, there are buses plying to Kondhanapoor village through Katraj Ghat (pass). As soon as the road climbs the Katraj Ghat, there is a village on the highway called Nasarapoor. Take a right turn from this place. Another 10 kms will take you to Kondhanapoor village. From the village, there is a tarred road which joins the tarred road from Aatkarwaadi. I am not sure if there is any trekking route from Kondhanapoor village.
c) The other option is to take your own vehicle and proceed on Sinhagad Road. The road winds through Khadakwaaslaa military academy, Khadakwaaslaa dam, Donaje village. Before it reaches the base of the fort, the road starts climbing on the left side. That takes it straight to parking lot above.
Aatkarwaadi is the base village of the fort. We enter the fort from Pune entrance. The other entrance of the fort is Kalyaan entrance.
The fort has a long history which predates Muslim rule in the area. It was originally named as Kondhana after sage Kaundinya. This name was prevalent during Shivaji Maharaj's times. The entrance of the Kaundinyeshwar (कौन्दिन्येश्वर ) temple indicates its antiquity. The caves and the carvings indicate that it was probably in use for nearly two thousand years.
The fort was captured from a Koli tribal chief, Naag Nayak by Muhammad Bin Tughlak in 1328 AD. A Persian poem Shahanaama-E-Hind written in 1350 AD refers this fort as Kondhaanaa.
Shivaji Maharaj conquered this fort in 1647 by convincing Siddhi Amber - the Adilshahi guardian of the fort. In 1649, it had to be handed over to Adilshah as a bargain to release Shahaji Maharaj. In 1656, the fort was again won by Shivaji Maharaj by winning over the guardian of the fort.
In 1665, the fort was handed over to Mirza Raje Jaisingh as a part of the Purandar Treaty. In 1670, the fort was captured by Taanaaji Malusare. He laid his life to win the fort. He raided the fort on a dark night from an unimaginable side. The legend that he conquered the cliff with the help of a Monitor Lizard is not true. It remained under Maratha rule till 1689. The Mughals conquered the fort in 1689 after the death of Sambhaaji Maharaj. In 1693, Maratha sardaar Naavajee Balkawade captured the fort. Chatrapati Rajaraam took shelter of the fort during Mughal raids. He breathed his last on the fort on 3-Mar-1700.
Aurangzeb conquered the fort in 1703. The Marathas again took it over in 1706. It remained under Maratha control until 1818. The British conquered the fort in 1818.
Lokamanya Tilak purchased a house on the fort. He used to stay on the fort frequently. One of his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi took place on the fort.
Nowadays, the fort is used for training by National Defense Academy. The recruits are punished and sent to the fort with heavy loads on their back. Every Sunday, the students climb the fort it seems.
11:45 AM Started from the base village Aatkarwaadi
We reached the base village Aatkarwaadi by our vehicle. Along the Sinhagad Road, reach Khadakwaasala village. From there, proceed to Donjae village. At the crossroad, proceed straight. The road ends in Aatkarwaadi village. This village lies at the base of the Sinhagad fort. All along the route, there are several hotels, resorts, farms, farm houses. In the winter, raw jowar (hurada) is available. So near from Pune and yet so far from the crowded urban life. Alas, this is changing very fast due to overcrowding.
2:00 PM Reached the fort
We parked our two wheeler in front of one of the houses. The house owners charge 5 rupees for one two wheeler. Unfortunately, they do not give any snack or lunch. Probably because generally people bring food or they have it on the top of the fort.
Due to extremely low visibility, rains, and heavy crowd, we could not explore the fort much and decided to return back.
4:30 PM Started descending
After spending some time and rearranging the sac, we started to descend. Just to be sure that we reach the base much before sunset. We descended slowly at our own pace. Enjoying the beauty of the nature during monsoon. Still there were some people who were starting to climb. Not sure if they intended to reach the top before dusk.
6:15 PM Reached Aatkarwaadi
At our own pace, we reached Aatkarwaadi. Again rearranged the sac. Rested for some time. By now, many of the vehicles were already gone. The villagers have this one day to earn some extra income. They make sure that they earn most on that one day.
Content with the heavy workout, we headed home. Along the way, we enjoyed the beauty of the Khadakwaasalaa dam. There was heavy rush and traffic jam.