Purandar and Vajragad forts are twin forts near Sasawad, Pune. Both these forts are historically significant. They are very much accessible from Pune. Purandar and Vajragad are two of the forts in the basin of river Karha. Purandar is the place of Lord Indra. Indra's weapon is Vajra. Vajragad is very much important for Purandar.
Location and getting there
From Swargate, take a ST bus going via Saaswad. Alternatively, a PMT bus can be taken just outside the Swargate station. It takes nearly 1.5 hours to reach Saaswad from Swaargate, depending upon traffic in Pune city.
Just outside Saaswad station, there are six seater rickshaws which can drop us at the base of Purandar fort. The return journey also needs to be agreed with the same rickshaws. Otherwise it becomes difficult to get any conveyance back to Saaswad. These rickshaws take nearly half an hour to reach from Saaswad to the base of the Purandar fort.
Having a vehicle at your own disposal eases a lot of troubles.
Purandar fort has very significant history.
The place seems to be inhibited for several centuries. At the North East lies a twin peak. At the base of this hill, there is a two storied cave. There were some idols in this cave. Now, there are only traces of the idols. Hence the antiquity of this place cannot be ascertained. However it indicates that this place was inhabited since ages.
The earliest record of Purandar fort is the conquest of Purandar by Hasan Gangu, the first Bahamani king in 1350 AD. He fortified Purandar.
In 1596, Pune and Supe were granted to Maloji Bhosale, Shivaji Maharaj's grandfather. Purandar fort was included in this grant.
In 1646, Shivaji established his control on the fort. This was one of the first conquests by Shivaji Maharaj.
Sambhaji, Shivaji Maharaj's son was born here on 14-Mar-1657.
In 1665, Mughals besieged the fort under the command of Jai Singh I. A fierce battle ensured and Murarbaaji Deshpande laid his life in the battle. The fort went into the hands of Mughals. Treaty of Purandar was concluded at the base of this fort on 11-Jun-1665. Under the treaty, Shivaji Maharaj conceded control of 22 forts to Mughals. However, in 1670, Shivaji Maharaj won back the fort.
Under the Peshwas, the fort was a stronghold. Peshwas retreated to Purandar whenever Pune was under attack directly. In 1774, Swaai Madhavrao Peshwa was born on this fort. In 1776, second Treaty of Purandar was concluded between the Marathas and the British.
On 14-Mar-1818, General Pritzler marched into Vajragad. On 16-Mar-2010, Purandar was surrendered to the British without any fight as Vajragad commands Purandar fort.
During the British rule, the fort was used as a prison and sanatorium for the British soldiers. Quite a few buildings were constructed on the fort during this time.
After independence, the fort is in the command of NCC. One needs to take permission of the officer at the entrance to see the fort.
During these changes, we do not recognize the historical monuments. The birth place of Sambhaji Maharaj could not be ascertained. The existing residence of the Commanding Officer is built on the basement of the residence of the Peshwas. Probably this is where Swaai Madhavrao was born. Laxmi Naaraayan temple was beside the school. Cemetery was right next to the temple of Purandereshwar. Sakharam Bokil's residence was near the store of the Engineering Department.
7:00 AM Started from Swaargate
We had gathered at Swaargate station at around 6:30 AM. Going by public transport for any trek is a tough proposition. Waiting on a Bus Stand is even more difficult. The bus stands are not very clean and hygienic. In this case, we had to wait for just about half an hour. We boarded a bus going to Wai via Saasawad. In another 1 hour 30 minutes, we reached Saasawad. The bus stand looked much cleaner surprisingly. Probably because less number of commuters using the stand.
The breakfast was served in the bus stand itself. The leaders arranged for six seater, while we were seated in the station. Saasawad is the headquarter of Purandar taluka in Pune district. There are quite a few places we can visit in this taluka. This area is not developed for tourism. There is a scarcity of information due to apathy. The journey took us through Old Saasawad. We saw that the place has a rich history. There are several palaces and temples. One must visit the place just to explore the rich legacy.
The countryside was pleasant. It could have rained anytime. The landscape was green. And we were going at a slower pace in the six seater. (There were 10 of us in the six seater.) We could not locate the fort until we reached at the base of the fort. All the mountains were hidden in the clouds.
9:30 AM Started climbing the fort
11:00 AM Reached maachi of the fort
12:00 PM Reached Kedaareshwar temple on the top
2:00 PM Started for Vajragad fort
2:45 PM Reached Vajragad fort
4:00 PM Back to maachi
After spending nearly an hour on top of the fort, we started to descend back to the maachi. Now we explored some of the abandoned buildings. These buildings had fireplaces, big halls, verandas. If the roof is repaired, then these buildings can be functional again. These buildings indicate that the fort had been some camp for the British. Nowadays, NCC has a camp on the fort. But nothing is maintained.
Within half an hour, we returned to the maachi. We could not locate the place where Sambhaji Maharaj was born. Nor could we locate the place where Sawaai Madhavrao Peshwa was born.
Immediately, we started to descend to the base village. The six seater was waiting for us to take back to Saaswad. In nearly half an hour, we were back to the base of the fort.
5:00 PM Naarayanpoor
The six seater took us into Naarayanpoor village. The village is famous for Datta temple. However adjoining the Datta temple, there is ancient Shiva temple. It must be nearly 800-1000 years old. There are six pillars. Probably they constructed a hall in front of the temple. The top portion is constructed with bricks. Now it is painted taking out antiquity of the monument. It only indicates that this place must have been important during earlier times.
6:00 PM Saaswad
The six seater dropped us back at Saaswad bus stand. Now getting back to Pune on a Sunday evening is really difficult. We struggled a lot to get some space in any of the buses going to Pune but in vain. Finally after nearly an hour's wait, some of us boarded one bus. Others stood in the bus.
8:00 PM Pune
The bus dropped us at Swaargate bus stand by around 8 PM.
Thus ended another good trek. I was glad to see the ancient temple in Naarayanpoor. However we could not preserve the crumbling heritage. Our neglect, apathy comes in between.
On the Purandar maachi itself, what was the need to construct so many Shiv temples? Having only one and maintaining it would have been far better.