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En route, there were a number of makeshift stalls selling lime juice, buttermilk and other refreshments. I was feeling thirsty and, so, decided to have a glass of lime juice. I fell into conversation with the owner who claimed he was 80 years old. "Do you climb up here every day?" I asked him. He answered in the affirmative saying it took him 30 minutes, carrying all his stuff. I was awestruck - some stamina!
The climb nearer the summit became tougher now, requiring me to also employ my hands to grapple with the boulders. So, there I was at times grappling on all fours. To be honest, I was also feeling a tad scared of losing my grip. Anyway, to cut the story short, I found myself at the top at last. It had taken me two hours and ten minutes to reach the summit - a far cry from the 30 minutes I had estimated when I started the climb. Boy, was I overjoyed! There before me was the "Pune Darwaja" welcoming me to enter the fort.
It was literally a food mall at the top with numerous food stalls serving "pithla bhakri" and "kanda bhaji". There was quite a crowd at the top - families who had come in their own vehicles right up to the fort.
The Sinhagad Fort was originally called the Kondhana Fort. It is located a little over 30 kilometres from Pune, atop a cliff at a height of around 2,300 feet. There are two gates or "darwajas" that grant entry into the fort - the "Pune Darwaja" on the northeast and the "Kalyan Darwaja" on the southeast.
The Pune Gazetteer states that Chhatrapati Shivaji changed the name of the fort from Kondhana to Sinhagad in 1647. However, the Maharashtra Tourism website states that the name was changed in 1670 after Tanaji Malusare, a childhood companion and commander of Shivaji's forces, recaptured the fort from the Moghuls in a daring exploit that has become a folklore. Legend has it that Tanaji Malusare and loyal "Mavala" soldiers scaled the fort using a trained monitor lizard "Yeshwanti", that carried ropes up to the fort. Tanaji and his soldiers recaptured the fort after a fierce battle with the Moghul forces led by Udaybhan Rathod, the fort-keeper. Tanaji was killed in the battle, but his brother Suryaji reorganised the soldiers and spurred them to complete the mission. When Shivaji learned about Tanaji's death, he remarked, "We have won the fort but lost the lion". That is how the fort got its name "Sinhagad" - "Sinha" meaning lion and "gad" meaning fort.
Shivaji was so much impressed with the difficulty and importance of the undertaking, that he conferred a silver bracelet on every individual of the survivors, "The History of India" by Mountstuart Elphinstone states. This battle significantly boosted confidence of Marathas and within two months they won all nearby forts like Purandar, and Lohagad.
There is Tanaji's tomb and bust in the precincts of the Sinhagad Fort. There is also a tomb of Rajaram, Shivaji's son, who died at the Sinhagad Fort in 1700 AD. Lokamanya Balgangadhar Tilak had built a house atop the fort, and that too is a salient attraction for the visitors.
The Sinhagad Fort has a very long history extending much earlier than the Maratha era. In 1340 a Koli chieftain, Nag Naik, resisted Muhammad Tughlak (1325-51) for eight months at Sinhagad, according to the Pune Gazetteer. Kondhana Fort fell to Malik Ahmed, the founder of the Nizamshahi dynasty at Ahmednagar (1490-1608). Shivaji's father had charge of the fort on behalf of Ahmednagar for a time. In 1647 Shivaji gained Kondhana by a large bribe to its commandant and changed its name to Sinhagad, according to the Gazetteer. In 1665, Shivaji, by the treaty that followed his surrender to Raja Jayasingh, the Mughal general, gave the latter twenty of his thirty-two forts, including Purandar and Sinhagad. In 1670, Sinhagad was recaptured by Tanaji Malusare. In 1703, Aurangazeb captured the fort. In 1706 the Marathas, under Shankaraji Narayan Sacheev, regained it but lost it later to the Mughal general Zulphikarkhan. Sacheev once more recaptured it. In 1750 the Peshwa gave him the hill forts of Tung and Tikona in exchange for Sinhagad. In March 1818, the British General Pritzler captured the Fort from the Peshwas, informs the Gazetteer.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu