Earlier known as Kondana fort, Sinhagad fort is about 22 kms south-west from Pune. It’s elevated at 1380 mts above sea level. It is a 2 hour trek, and cars can be parked at the foothills of the fort or even a driveway is available if you don’t want to walk the miles. On the way, there are a lot of thirst quencher stops where you get fresh lemon juice and kokum sarbat (Garcinea Juice) and also some freshly cut fruits. It was earlier named as Kondana, but it was renamed after Tanaji Malusare was killed while saving it from getting captured from the Mughals. Saddened by the fact, Shivaji renamed the fort to Sinhagad. “Sinha” means lion and “Gad” means a fort.
Once you reach the tip of the fort, you should not miss the authentic Maharashtrian food. It includes pitla bhakri (chickpea paste and sorghum bread), vangyache bharit (spicy mashed eggplant), thecha (a spicy condiment made of green chilies and ginger-garlic paste) and the famous matka dahi (home made curd served in a mini earthen pot). This is not any special menu but, is the staple diet for the Maharashtrians. They prepare the food on a traditional stove, and keep their surroundings very clean.
After the fulfilling lunch break, you can also take a tour of the fort. There are many spots which have a historical importance:
Zunzjur Buruj - This is a turret at the south western tip of the fort.
Khandkada Machi - This is the eastern tip of the fort which overlooks the entire eastern region. To fortify this area, three doors and a couple of pieces of the fortress were built.
Kalavanteen Buruj - This turret can still be is still found in very good condition. The flooring is almost intact.
Tanaji Kada cliff - This is the cliff which Tanaji climbed with his tiny army and conquered Sinhagad. This story of this battle inspires the maharastrian youth.
Pune Darwaza - The Sinhagad was strategically built to provide natural protection due to its very steep slopes. The walls and bastions were constructed at only key places. There are two gates to enter the fort, the Kalyan Darwaza and Pune Darwaza which are positioned at the south east and north-east ends respectively. There is a sugar cane juice vendor. Having a glass of sugar cane juice here is quite refreshing.
Sinhagad fort has a very fascinating historical importance. There are some memorials and temples built too.
Kondhaneshwar Temple - This East facing temple is the highest point in the fort. It is built in stone on which some carved designs are seen.
Amruteshwar Temple - This temple faces south. It has idols of the deities Bhairav and Bhairavi. Both together are said to represent the two sides of the nature.
Tanaji's memorial - Tanaji's memorial is built at the place where he is said to have laid down his life while fighting with Udebhan Rathod.
King Rajaram's memorial - The memorial resembles a hollow Tulashi Vrindavan and built in Muslim architecture.
Udebhan Rathod's memorial - The memorial of Udebhan Rathod looks like a tomb. Considering the fact that Udebhan was a staunch Rajput, there is no reason his memorial should look like a tomb.
Once you are done with the trek, there are many spots near the fort which you can visit.
Khadakwasla Dam- The Khadakwasla Dam is one of the main sources of water for Pune, built across the Mutha River, is situated near Khadakwasla village. It takes about 38 minutes from the fort to reach there. It is one of the most famous picnic spots in Pune.
Panshet Dam- Also called Tanaji Sagar Dam, is an earthen dam built across Ambi River at Panshet in Pune district of Maharashtra.
The fort was one of the top military outposts during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji Maharaj used the technique of Guerilla Warfare, so he was famously called the “mountain rat”. Nobody could match his skills of mountain climbing and mountain horse riding. He was the most powerful and bravest king, the Maratha Empire could ever have. When other states’ kings gave up and did not dare to fight the Mughals, he was the sole patriot who did not fear the huge army and cavalry of the enemy. They were huge in numbers, but Maratha army along with their Chhatrapati was bigger in technique and warfare skills.
Till today, one of our Indian army’s battalion trains at the foothills taking inspiration from their idol with the same zest and enthusiasm! If you are a true history enthusiast or a genuine patriot, you must experience the trek at least once in your lifetime.