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Monday, May 16, 2022

Top Things to Know Before You Visit Pratapgad Fort in Maharashtra

Pratapgad Fort

Top Things to Know Before You Visit Pratapgad Fort in Maharashtra

Pratapgad Fort in Maharashtra is the fort that is familiar to every single person staying in Maharashtra, isn’t it? It is not only a fort, but it is also a place which is very close to all Maratha’s and it was close to my heart too. Pratapgad Fort was mentioned in one of the Marathi songs (Powada) and since that time it became a part of my wish list. You will come to know how the song was connected to this fort. Pratapgad Fort was built in the 16th century and it was built by one of the great idols Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This historical fort is located in the Satara district of Maharashtra state in India and it is located around 24km from Mahabaleshwar hill station. The fort became a popular destination and it memorise the battle between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan. These battles will give you the goosebumps after hearing their history of it. One should definitely read the story of the Pratapgad fort battle.

History of the Pratapgad Fort

The fort has the historical significance of the battle that took place on 10 November 1659 between Shivaji Maharaj and Bijapur Sultanate Afzal Khan. In 1650, the young Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ordered his Peshwa, or Prime Minister Moropant Trimbak Pingle, to overseas the construction of the strategic for in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. The construction was completed in 1656. Three years later Afzal Khan was marching at Pratapgad Fort, intent on destroying the Maratha territory. Afzal Khan approached the Pratapgad to take over. Before any battle was fought, however tradition dictated that both leaders should meet to get some resolution plan. Likewise, Afzal Khan and Shivaji Maharaj agree to meet each other. It was difficult to trust Afzal Khan, Shivaji Maharaj was known to him. They both came and met in the tent along with the bodyguard nearby. As the two men approached each other, Afzal Khan drew a knife from his coat and tried to kill Shivaji Maharaj but, Shivaji Maharaj was wearing armor beneath his clothes, which protected him from that attack. Shivaji Maharaj pulled out his Bagh Nakh (a weapon that fits in hand) and sliced Afzal Khan across his abdomen, cutting into his organ. This was the first major test of the fledgling kingdom’s army and set the stage for the establishment of the Maratha Empire.  

Pratapgad Fort
A meeting place of Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan at the base of the Pratapgad Fort

How to reach Pratapgad Fort?

By Air

The nearest airport to reach the Pratapgad is Pune domestic airport and Mumbai International airport. The distance is 124 km and 224 km from Pune and Mumbai. One can take a direct cab or can also option local transportation to reach here.

By Train

Pune is the nearest railway station to reach the Pratapgad Fort. The distance from the railway station to the fort is 140 km. There are lots of express trains that run to and from Pune railway station. This connectivity further exceeds the different states of India.

By Road

Pratapgad Fort is 210 km drive from Mumbai and 140 km drive from Pune. Pratapgad Fort is one day drive from Mahabaleshwar so those who are planning for Mahabaleshwar can definitely reach Pratapgad Fort. The distance from Mahabaleshwar to the fort is 25 km. One who wants to travel via ST, take direct ST to Poladpur and then to Wada, and another share a taxi to the base of the fort. 

My Experience of Pratapgad Fort

The summer day is when you look to explore the hill stations in a relaxing mood, right? So, likewise, I made my plan to explore Mahabaleshwar for three days along with my beloved wife. I had decided to reserve one day for Pratapgad Fort and two days to explore Mahabaleshwar points. I had been to Mahabaleshwar amidst a pandemic situation but I could not get a chance to visit Pratapgad as it was closed due to covid restrictions. This time I was happy because all restrictions were lifted. The road that goes to Pratapgad fort from Mahabaleshwar passes through the Ambenali  Ghat route. I would definitely suggest you not miss your drive on Ambenali Ghat. This is one of those picturesque routes, a long valley on one side and forest on the other side is what you can expect from Ambenali Ghat. Though it is adventurous, it is risky too, so be careful while driving. This 20 km patch goes exactly zigzag, one needs to be driven with more precaution. During monsoon time this area fills with dense fog so sometimes it becomes difficult to drive on this road. After a 20 km drive on Mahabaleshwar- Poladpur road left goes towards Pratapgad Fort. Arrow marking is also placed along with the long entrance gate that welcomes tourists to the fort.

Pratapgad Fort
This entrance gate lies on the route of Mahabaleshwar-Poladpur 

One can take your own vehicle up to the mid-way of the fort. The roads are not good in condition rather it was too rough and risky to drive to the fort area. Maybe the road was under construction at that time. As you drive close to the fort you can see a glimpse of the Pratapgad fort. There are enough parking spaces to park your vehicle. We were already in the middle of the fort via bike road. I parked my bike and started heading towards the staircase route of the fort. I could see some of the villagers asking me to take a guide along with me for accompanying till uphill route. I had some of the basic information about the fort however I got a small book that contained the basic information about the fort. As you start climbing the staircase you come across the main door of the fort. There is a small cannon which is placed next to it. After crossing the main door the first picturesque view of the Bastions will amaze you. The bastion was used as a watchtower on the enemies coming from the front side of the fort. This was the idea driven by Shivaji Maharaj and that’s the purpose behind the construction of the main bastion of the fort.

Pratapgad Fort
Pratapgad Fort view from the parking area at the base point

Pratapgad Fort
Main entrance gate of the Pratapgad Fort where the trek starts

The height of the Pratapgad fort is 3500 feet, the vehicle route will help you to cover 50% of the route, and the leftover route can be reached by trek. The same staircase route continues to go uphill to the summit point. There are so many small huts that sell snacks and some juices so if anyone gets tired of climbing then you need not worry. After the bastion viewpoints, you come across the Tulja Bhavani Mata temple from Shivaji Maharaj’s time. A temple where you find some more cannons used in the war by the Maratha (soldiers). The major attraction of the temple was the Sword of Sarsenapati Hambirarao Mohite which is being framed inside the temple of Tulja Bhavani. The sword used in the war has killed the 600 enemies of the Mughals. When you see the sword I swear you will go back in the history and imagine the battle of Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan. How he fought to save the Swarajya. Unfortunately, I couldn't click a picture of it as it was no photography area. This is one of the places where I was overwhelmed with emotion. There is a small handicraft shop on the backside of the temple where handmade wooden things are kept for selling.

Pratapgad Fort
Bhavani Mata Temple where the sword has been kept

Pratapgad Fort
These cannons were used by Marathas while keeping watch in the nighttime

The route continued towards the Hanuman temple and Kedareshwar temple.  The temple has a magnificent Shivling. The castle tower is placed adjacent to the Kedareshwar temple; this offers the surrounding view of the Konkan region. Going ahead there is the statue of Shivaji Maharaj. It was unveiled by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. There are overall 500 stairs to climb to the summit point. This has become the education trip hub for many schools. If you are coming to Mahabaleshwar then you should definitely visit the Pratapgad Fort. It will hardly take one hour to reach the top peak.

Pratapgad Fort
This is the second entrance of the Pratapgad Fort, famously known as Bale Darvaza

Pratapgad Fort
This statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Ideal Time to Visit the Pratapgad Fort

It is one of those forts that can be visited throughout the years. It has become a tourist attraction nowadays. People visit here all the season. This fort is situated in the region of Mahabaleshwar so the temperature here ranges between 10 degrees to 25 degrees in the summertime. The monsoon here offers a greenery view of the surrounding mountain. You may find many waterfalls on the route to Pratapgad fort. Many tourist flocks in the summertime to chill at Mahabaleshwar. This is the place with heavy rain during monsoon time so it is better to avoid it during monsoon time. Remember the time of the fort is 10 am to 6 pm.

Eateries around the Fort

There are two restaurants at the parking point of the fort that sell the proper Maharashtrian food. There are a couple of hotels on the fort and juice centers. I would suggest you head to the Kille Pratapgad hotel which is next to the Bhavani Mata temple. This hotel has a very good ambiance with the view of Pratapgad Bastion. Kanda Bhaji, Butter Milk, and Bhakri-Pitla are what Maharashtra offers to its foodies. This is one of the specialty foods of Maharashtra. The food rates are so economic.

Pratapgad Fort
Maharashtra's famous Pitla-Bhakri is what you must try here

Stay at Pratapgad Fort

Pratapgad vishramdham and hotel Bharat Mata are among the option if you want to stay at Pratapgad fort. No worries, you can stay at Mahabaleshwar and can travel to Pratapgad in one hour. There are few hotels at the base of the fort on Poladpur-Mahabaleshwar road. The rates are as per economic rooms to deluxe rooms.

Places of Interest around Pratapgad Fort

Tapola Lake- Tapola is located 35 km away from the Pratapgad fort, and is famously known as Mini Kashmir.

Mahabaleshwar- A hill station that is also famous for its boating activity in Venna Lake. The distance from the fort is 25km with a scenic drive.

Kaas Plateau- Kaas plateau is also known as the Valley of Flowers. The season to visit Kaas Pathar is post-monsoon from August to October month. The distance from the fort is 57 km.

Things to know before you Visit Pratapgad Fort       

  • Local Guides are available at the starting point of the fort; the charges are closed to 200 to 300 INR for a group.
  • Washroom availability is made at the base and top of the fort.
  • Be aware of the monkeys and do not keep any eatable in hand while passing from the Monkey area.
  • Enough parking space is available at the base point of the fort
  • Do not litter the area around the fort.

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