Sunday, 28 October 2018

Information About Vijaydurg Fort

India has many amazing forts that exemplify the brilliance of ancient construction. One such fort that even time couldn't destroy it is the Vijaydurg fort. It is not only one of the oldest but also the strongest forts in Maharashtra that braved several attacks by the hands of foreigners.


History of Vijaydurg Fort 

It was built by the Raja Bhoj of Shilahar Dynasty during the end of 12th century in the present day Devgad taluka of Sindhudurg district in western Maharashtra. It took 12 years (1193 to 1205) to build such an imposing fort surrounded by the Arabian sea from all the four sides. It was called ”Gheria” due to being in the proximity of the “Gehriya” village. When Shivaji Maharaj captured the fort in 1653 from Adil Shah of Bijapur, he named it “Vijay Durg,” which translates to Victory Fort.

The fort was in 5 acres initially. Shivaji Maharaj extended it up to 17 acres and provided it with a protection cover of the Arabian sea from three sides. Besides its strong construction, the 40 km shallow creek at its front made it impossible for the enemy ships to get close to it. The Maratha navy used this creek as an anchoring point so that the warships couldn't be seen by the enemies from the distance. Due to its imposing structure, the fort was also nicked as the “Eastern Gibraltar.”


The fort stood a witness to many wars since several outsiders tried their hands to conquer it. It was under the Marathas from 1667 to 1729. Thereafter, the Peshwas ruled it till 1818. Finally, the fort was taken over by the British after defeating the Peshwas.

Vijaydurg Fort Architecture

Vijaydurg, like any other fort in Maharashtra, is built with laterite stones making it one of the fine examples of the robust ancient construction. The walls of the fort are 8 to 10 metres in height and are made of huge black rocks. There are 27 bastions that serve as a vigilance point. There are a few tunnels and caves inside the fort used for storing food-grains and as an emergency exit. One of the tunnels leads to the palatial house built in the close-by village. A water lake near the fort served as a source of drinking water. Several structures inside the fort now lie in ruins. However, a rest house is still in good condition.

Discovery of an underwater wall

Recently, a team of oceanographers discovered a submerged wall at the east of the fort. The wall is 122 metres in length, 3 metres in height, and 7 metres in width, and 8 to 10 metres in depth built of laterite rocks.


It was intentionally built under the water for destroying the ships of attackers. The Portuguese during its attempt to conquer the fort had lost a few ships after colliding with the underwater wall.

How to reach Vijaydurg

By Road – One can reach Vijaydurg by car or state-run buses via Mumbai-Goa national highway 17. From Mumbai, it is 436 km via Chiplun, and 184 km from Panaji.


By Rail – The nearest railway station is Rajapur on the Konkan Railway route. From Rajapur, Vijaydurg is 77 km. Taxis and rickshaws ply to the fort from Rajapur rail station.

By Air – The nearest airport to Vijaydurg is Kolhapur and Dabolim Airport. The former is 152 km and the latter is 205 km from the fort. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Shivaji Maharaj Wives - Saibai, Soyrabai, Putalabai, Sakvarbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire and staunch practitioner of Hinduism, was one of the bravest, progressive thinking, and secular ruler of medieval India. He is one of those kings of India whose deeds made him earned a god-like stature. It was him who changed the course of the history with his farsightedness, administrative, and military skills. He was instrumental in sowing the seeds of “Swarajya,” and gave tough days and nights to the Mughals. While a lot has written about him, there is very less information on Shivaji Maharaj's wives. This post will throw a brief light on his personal life.

Saibai 

Sai was born circa 1633 in Nimbalkar family in Phaltan near Satara, Maharashtra. She was born to Reubai and Madhojirao Naik Nimbalkar, the ruler of Phaltan since the Pawar dynasty. She had one sibling named Bajaji Rao Naik Nimbalkar who ruled Phaltan as the sixteenth Raja. Her ancestors served the Deccan sultans and Mughal Empire.

Marriage

Saibai was the first and most-lovable wife of Shivaji Maharaj. She got married to Shivaji on May 16, 1640, at Lal Mahal, Pune. During the marriage, both she and Shivaji were still a child. The marriage wasn't a grand affair though. Shivaji's mother, Jijabai had the marriage rituals sanctified under her supervision in absence of her husband Shahaji Bhonsale since he was busy in Bangalore. So following the marriage, Jijabai, Saibai, and Shivaji had to leave for Bangalore to seek Shahaji's blessings.

Sai's influence on Shivaji

Saibai was the most beautiful, loving, and good-natured woman, and a loyal to Shivaji. Her endearing personality and knowledge of social issues and compassion had a deep influence on Shivaji. She managed both the state's and household's affair like an abled administrator. Her selfless attitude and keenness for the welfare of others had the entire royal family fall in love with her. She even provided suggestions and advice to Shivaji on crucial matters as and when required. Due to her good nature, she kept the household atmosphere harmonious.

Children

In 19 years of her marriage to Shivaji, Saibai gave birth to four children out of which three were girls and one boy. The girls were named Sakavarbai, Ranubai, Ambikabai; and the boy Sambhaji. Since Sambhaji was the first and only male child in the family, he was named after his uncle Sambhaji who died fighting against the Mughals.

Death

Saibai passed away in 1659 after suffering from illness for a long time. She breathed her last in the Raigad Fort. Unfortunately, during her death, Shivaji Maharaj was not with her due to being busy preparing for a meeting with Afzal Khan at Pratapgad. At the time of her death, Sambhaji was just two years old. He was raised her by Shivaji's mother, Jijabai thereafter.

Soyrabai

Soyrabia was the second wife of Shivaji. She was born in Mohite family, and her elder brother was a chief of the Maratha army. She was young when she got married to Shivaji in 1659. The marriage happened on the insistence of Shivaji's father, step-mother, Tukabia, and Soyrabai's paternal aunt. She birthed two children – a daughter Balibai and son Rajaram. She was ambitious, unlike Saibai.

When Jijabai passed away in 1674, she started plotting for ascending his son, Rajaram to power. She even got Rajaram to sit on the throne soon after the death of Shivaji in 1680. At that time, Sambhaji was not in Raigad, and Rajaram was just ten years old. But later, Sambhaji got the throne back by throwing Rajaram out of the throne with the help of Soyrabai's brother, Hambirrao Mohite. She even made a failed attempt to kill Sambhaji with poison in August 1681.

Putalabai 

Putalabai Palkar became Putalabai Bhonsale in 1653 after marrying to Shivaji. Being the eldest and childless among all the surviving wives of Shivaji Maharaj, she committed Sati by throwing herself to the funeral pyre of Shivaji Maharaj.

Sakvarbai 

Sakvarbai was from the Gaikwad family who became Shivaji's fourth wife in January 1656 and gave birth to a daughter. She too wanted to commit Sati after Shivaji's death but had to restrain herself because of her daughter. She was imprisoned along with Sambhaji's family members by Aurangazeb and breathed her last in the captivity.

There is nothing much written or said about Shivaji's other four wives, who were (in ascending order):

Laxmibai (Vichare)
Kashibai (Jadhav)
Sagunabai (Shirke)
Gunvantibai (Ingale)

Friday, 6 July 2018

Information About Lohagad Fort

Maharashtra has many prominent forts that remind us about the glorious period of the Maratha empire. One of the forts without which its history is incomplete is, the Lohagad Fort. It is one of the hilly forts in Maharashtra built on the fabulous Sahyadri range of mountains at about 3,390 ft. above the sea level. Despite being under different rulers such as the Satavahanas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Yadavas, the Bahmanis, Nizams, Mughals, and Marathas, it hasn't lost the charm. In fact, it has withstood all the ravages unleashed by the time with all its might. No wonder it was named Lohagad, which means Iron Fort.  What makes this fort stands out among all others is its brilliant fortification. Situated near one of the popular hill stations of Maharashtra – Lonavla, Lohagad fort is easily accessible from Pune and Mumbai.



How to Reach Lohagad Fort

Lohagad fort is reachable through both roads and railways. When using the roads, visitors can reach Malavali railway station using the old Mumbai-Pune highway. The base village to Lohagad fort is 9 km from Malavali. If taking the rail journey, visitors from Mumbai must get down at Lonavla, and board a local train to Pune. They can alight at Malavali railway station and walk down to the Lohagad fort. From Pune, a local train to Lonavla passes through Malavali, From there, visitors can either hike all the way or take a rickshaw and reach the base village.

Attractions at Lohagad Fort  (What to see at Lohagad Fort)



Ganesh Darwaja


This is the main entrance Darwaja (gate) to the fort, which is followed by the other three gates, namely Narayan, Hanuman, and Maha-Darawaja. After entering the main gate, a few metres away is a broken idol of Lord Ganesh. From here, at a  few distances away towards the right is the Narayan Darwaja. On the right of this Darwaja is a tiny, broken idol of Goddess Gauri in crossed-leg seated position with upturned souls, and hands resting on knees. She is wearing four bracelets in each hand, a bodice, and a crown on her head. Between Narayan and Hanuman Darwaja, there are two huge caves which the Marathas used for storing Nachni (ragi), and rice. From both these gates, at a distance is a carved image of Lord Hanuman on a cliff which is also half broken. Walking a few metres from here is the Hanuman Darwaja, which is believed to be built by Aurangazeb. The last gate is the Maha gate built in Moghul style with an arch, and a guard room.

Old Dargah



After entering the Maha Darwaja, there is dargah built on a stone platform. Locals say it was built in honour of Aurangazeb's and his favorite wife. There is no inscription of any sort on the dargah to prove the claim though. The dargah has one entrance and a dome. There are ruins of a small court-house near the dargah and remains of the armory.

Laxmi Kothi



There are a few caves inside the fort used for a specific purpose. But the main and important cave for the Marathas was the Laxmi Kothi. This cave was used by the Maratha chief, Nana Phadnavis to hide the treasure looted from the Surat's Nizam.

Water Tank




There are two water tanks inside Lohagad fort supposedly used for drinking purpose. The water tanks are built in octagonal and hexagonal shapes. These tanks are usually dry except during monsoon season.

Vinchu Kata (Scorpion tail)



This is the extension of the fort long and wide enough to offer a fantastic view of the gorgeous Sahyadri range. The specific size of the trail is 1500m in length and 3m in width. It is separated from the main fort and is a part of the mountain. It is named so because of its looks that resemble a scorpion sting. During those days, it was used to watch the nearby areas.

Other attractions you can enjoy at Lohagad fort are Mahadev temple, 16 angle lake, 8 angle lake, Buruj, cannons. Exploring the entire fort will take minimum 2 hours, depending on your pace. The best time to visit it is from September to March. 

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Shivaji Maharaj Described by Rabindranath Tagore

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj inspired several freedom fighters and nationalists during India's freedom struggle with his principles and deft leadership. He fought against the Mughals for several years, and defended his subject and state till his last breath. Several nationalists of the pre-independence India from Punjab, Assam, Bengal, Gujarat Bengal, and Tamil Nadu conjured up his heroics to inspire people to rise and fight for the freedom of India. Noble prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore, and Punjab Kesari, Lala Lajpatrai have narrated Shivaji's life through poems and a biography. Tagore's plays on Shivaji Maharaj were staged in Bengal and Assam to ignite the spark for freedom in people. Other luminaries like Bipin Chandra Pal, and Aurobindo Ghosh too glorified him through their writings published in magazines, and newspaper.



Shivaji Maharaj - The Source of Inspiration

The values that Shivaji Maharaj imbibed were rare to find in other rulers. He treated women with respect, and at no time looked at them as a mere object. Unlike other rulers, he never harmed or enslaved women even after defeating his opponents. Whatever qualities and values his mother wished were all found in him. As a leader, his judgment on anything was unquestionable. He was far superior in administration and military strategies than the rulers of his time.


His bravery and courage inspired millions of Indians to rise and fight against the British.  With his values, and immense love for the country, he became a national here for the people during the seventeenth century. Freedom fighters looked up to him as a source of inspiration to fight for India's freedom.

Shivaji Festival and biography

Bal Gangadhar Lokmanya Tilak started Shivaji Festival in 1895 to sow the seeds of nationalism in youngsters of Maharashtra by demonstrating examples of Shivaji. During those days, Bengal, Punjab, Pune, and the then Bombay used to be the base of revolutionaries to form strategies for India's freedom. The festival soon got popular among Bengalis. And when Lokmanya Tilak visited Bengal in 1906 for the festival, he received immense support.


One of the Bengal's revolutionaries, Barindra Kumar Ghosh, younger brother of Aurobindo Ghosh, was deeply influenced by Shivaji. He used to write articles on Shivaji for a revolutionary magazine called “Jugantar.” One more revolutionary group, Anushilan Samiti also contributed in inspiring Bengalis through biographies on Shivaji Maharaj. They published a book in Bengali with the title “Mukti Kon Pathe?.” Its English translation is “Which Way Lies Freedom?.” The book narrated how Shivaji's leadership earned Maharashtra its freedom. They even adopted Shivaji's slogan of “Har Har Mahadev” for the revolutionary movement.


The poem “Pratinidhi” by Tagore on Shivaji is popular throughout India. In the poem, Tagore describes how Shivaji adopted Bhagva Dhwaj (Saffron Flag) to represent Hinduism. The prelude to the poem starts with a brief narration of the meeting between Shivaji Maharaj and his guru, Ramdas at Satara Fort. It goes this way - One morning, seeing his guru begging from door to door, Shivaji wonders why the mendicant is not happy since he, the king himself is his disciple. So to satisfy him, he summons his courtier Balaji and asks him to deliver a hand-written note to Guru Ramdas. Ramdas finds out that Shivaji has donated his entire kingdom to him.

Ramdas goes to Shivaji the next day and says, “Now that you have given away your kingdom, what use will you be”? Shivaji humbly replies that “I will happily sacrifice my life in your service.”  Ramdas then asks Shivaji to join him for begging. Together, they collect alms from a few houses. After some time, Ramdas then suggests Shivaji that he should continue to rule not as a king, but as his 'Pratinidhi' (representative). That way, the kingdom will be ruled by someone who has no kingdom, and the ruler will be free of all the worldly things. He then blesses Shivaji and gives his saffron cloth, and says “From now on, this 'Bhagwa Dhwaj' will be your Royal Standard.”

The poem sheds lights on how Shivaji's guru, Ramdas infuses the idealism of representing the country, and how freedom is greater than himself.


Here is the English translation of the poem “Pratinidhi” by Rabindranath Tagore

“So fate has made you the representative of a beggar
You will be a king but at the same time poor (deen) udaseen (detached)
You will follow the Raj dharma
As though it were my karma
Despite having a kingdom you will be without one
Vatsa so with my blessings take this saffron attire of mine
Make this wanders’s (sanyasi) (bairagi) cloth your flag
Said Guru Ramdas”

Another famous poem of Rabindranath Tagore's on Shivaji Maharaj was published in 1904 for a book with the title “Shivaji Utsab,” which was distributed to the people for free at Shivaji Festival in Calcutta.

This is the English translation of the poem that was published for a book.

“In what far away century on what unmarked day
I no longer know today
Upon what mountain peak, in darkened forests,
Oh King Shivaji,
Did this thought light up your brow as a touch of lightning
As it came to thee –
“The scattered parts of this land with one religion
‘Shall I bind for eternity.” (11)

The poem highlights Shivaji's character and its importance in contemporary India rather than being a mere description of his life's events. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Information About Rajgad Fort

Maharashtra has several great forts that have seen many significant events and handovers. Most of these forts were built on hills and offered a natural protection due to their geographical conditions. One such hill fort that is famous in the history of Maratha empire is Rajgad Fort.



Location

Rajgad fort is situated 60 km from Pune in the stunning ranges of Sahyadri mountains. It's 4250 feet above the sea level and is one of the huge forts with a base diameter of 40 km. The fort is built on Murumbadevi mountains, and hence it was initially called Murumdev fort. It was the capital of the Maratha empire for more than two decades.

How to reach Rajgad fort

There are three routes that will take you to Rajgad fort – Gunjawane, Bhor, and Pali. Catch a state transport bus from Swargate and get down at the base village called Gunjawane. If you are willing to shell out a few extra bucks, take a private transport. Cross Katraj tunnel and reach Nasrapur via NH 4. The distance from Swargate to Nasrapur is 35 km approx. From Nasrapur, head to the west and reach Gunjawane village. Or take NH4 and reach Bhor to head to Bhutonde village.

Best time to visit Rajgad Fort

To enjoy the greenery of Sahyadri mountains, the best time to visit is monsoon. If you are planning to stay overnight, then winter season is the best since the trek is not that slippery as it is during the monsoon.

Where to stay?

There is no accommodation facility available at or near the fort. If you decide to stay for an overnight, you have to camp in the fort itself. There is a temple in the fort where you can stay for the night. It can accommodate 50 people at a time.



What to see at Rajgad Fort

Padmavati Temple


Constructed by Shivaji Maharaj, this temple is dedicated to the goddess Padmavati. It offers shelter to trekkers. Many enthusiasts who want to see the entire fort spend a night at this temple.

Padmavati Tank




If you are trekking from Gunjawane, you will reach the Chor Darwaja. The trek is around 2 to 2.5 hours with 4 to 5 breaks. Though it is difficult, it offers stunning views of the surrounding Sahyadri ranges. Once you reach the Chor Darwaja, you will see this tank. It was the source of drinking water for the residents of the forts. The tank's wall is still in the same condition, and it's filled with water throughout the year.

Rameshwaram Temple

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is not as big as the Padmavati temple though, but can accommodate 5 to 6 people for an overnight stay. There is a beautiful idol of Lord Hanuman in this temple.

Palace Ruins

Ahead of the Rameshwaram Temple lies the palace ruins which were once used by Shivaji Maharaj and his family. The ruins are of a tank, meeting room, and queen's room, and an armory.

Pali Darwaja

It was specially built for the king to enter the fort. The route leading to the Darwaja is huge and well built . The fortified door leads to Padmavati Machi or bastion.

Padmavati Machi/bastion

This bastion is the biggest of all the three bastions in the fort that were used for vigilance. It was an important military point as well as a residential junction.

Suvela Machi/bastion

From this bastion, you will see the residential ruins of the prominent military commander of Shivaji's army -  Tanaji Malusare, Yasaji Kank, and Shilimkar. There is also a secret door called Medhe Darwaja and water tanks.

You May Also Like to Download: Shivcharitra in PDF

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Weapons of Shivaji Maharaj

Shivaji Maharaj expanded his empire up to Deccan and central India with his administration and military skills. He dominated the entire range of Sahyadris with valor and martial skills of his infantry and cavalry. He was also the inventor of the guerrilla style of fighting in which his soldiers used to ambush enemies without giving them any chance to retaliate, and disappear into the thick bushes taking advantage of darkness.


The weapons that he and his army used in guerrilla and pitched battle contributed a lot for the expansion of his empire. Here are the weapons of Shivaji Maharaj that are glorified in history.

Talwar


An Indian sword that was a quintessential weapon during the medieval war. It has a curved blade with its one projecting edge covered in a wooden or metal hilt and protected with a pommel. The hilt also consists of a knuckle guard. The talwar has a thick pointed tip that can pierce into the chest of enemies.

Firangi



This is a colloquial used to refer foreigners with white skin. It is a sword based on European design and hence is called 'firangi.' It has a straight blade that is sharp on one entire side and six inches from the top on the other side. This European sword also inspired Shivaji to make its variants in 'Bhavani' and 'Jagdamba' talwars.

Shamshir



While the origin of this sword is unknown, it has a Persian name 'Shamsir' because Seljuk Khanate, Islamic Seljuk Empire, brought it to Persia in the 12th century. Since Persian sword are usually straight, and Arabian sword curved, Shamshir sword had both the features, but with a curved hilt. Though the Persian used it for hunting, the Marathas did for fighting enemies.

Khanda



This sword has a sharp edge on both the sides. Its width is less at the handle, but grows large in length. Being broader at the middle and upper part, this sword was used to cut enemies into two pieces. It doesn't has a pointed tip.

Khanjar


It is a dagger mostly used in close combat. It is short in length, curved, double-edged, and with a pointed tip. Covered in a sheath, khanjar has its origin in Oman. But it has donned an Arabic name.

Kataar


This is another close combat weapon ideally used for piercing. It has a short blade with a 'H' shaped handle. Like the khanjar, it too is covered in a sheath. Being short, it is easy to mount near the waist and pull it out instantly when required.

Gupti


This is a short, pointed, but effective sword that is still used by gangsters. With its pointed tip, it can be easily pierced into the enemy's stomach. It is covered in a scabbard made of wood because of which it is difficult to guess whether a person is carrying a weapon or a stick.

Dhanushya-Baan (Bow and arrow)

This is a traditional weapon used to attack enemies from a long distance. The bow is of wooden which is heated-treated to make it flexible and give a curve shape.  A string is attached tight to both its end that is instrumental in propelling the arrow.

Bichwa





It is an Indian dagger with one end curved and the other pointed out. It has a small looped hilt for easy gripping and piercing.

Kurhaad



It is a Marathi word for an axe and is generally a tool made of metal with a sharp and thick edge in a lunar shape mounted on a wooden shaft. Kurhaad is most effective in breaking the skull of enemies.

You May Also Like to Download: Shivcharitra 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Shivjayanti 2018

The Dawn of Maharashtra

Shivaji Maharaj was born to Jijabai and Shahaji Bhonsale on February 19, 1627 in Junnar, Pune. Jijabai named him “Shivaji” because she was a staunch follower of Lord Shiva and saw in him all the characteristics of a great leader. He was one of the most influential leaders, patriot, and ruler of Maharashtra, loved by the masses immensely.


Shivaji Maharaj’s birth anniversary is fondly celebrated as “Shivjayanti,” which is one of the most memorable events celebrated in Maharashtra. The government of Maharashtra has declared it as a state holiday. This year, people will be celebrating 388th Birth Anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Coronation of Shivaji

The coronation of Shivaji took place in 1674 at Raigad fort after which he was bestowed with a title of “Chhatrapati.”  The contribution of Shivaji Maharaj in establishing and expanding Maratha Empire is humongous. There have hardly been a couple of rulers after him whose contributions to Maharashtra can be placed on the same scale as of him. He spread his kingdom till Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In his endeavour for a free state, many of his loyal general supported him. Though Shivaji Maharaj passed away in 1680, his deeds and passion for the welfare and freedom of his people, including administration, and military tactics still inspire this generation.



Two different dates of Shivjayanti

There are two groups of scholars who have different opinions on Shivaji’s birth date. According to one group, the exact birth date is February 19 and as per another, it is April 6. But Maharashtra government has officially declared February 19, 1630 as “Shivaji Jayanti.” The difference in dates is due to the Julian calendar, which was used in ancient days, and the Gregorian calendar, which the world is using currently.


That’s why one group of followers celebrates his birth anniversary on February 19 and another on March 1.  There was also a difference of opinion on birth year among historians as well -1627 and 1630. To settle the matter, Maharashtra government established a committee in 1968 under the leadership of M. N. Dixit and included members who were scholars in their own domains - G. H. Khare, Babasaheb Purandare, N. R. Phatak, Datto Vaman Potdar, and B. C. Bendre.

The committee drew a similarity between Hindu almanac and English calendar by following Falgun Vadya Tritiya and decided on February 19 as the exact birth date. This was also the date that Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak claimed during the Bharat Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal in 1916.

To confirm the date, the committee even checked the entire Vedic timekeeping calendar as well as Vikram Samvat 1686, the historical Hindu calendar, started by King Vikramaditya. A conclusion was then drawn that as per Gregorian calendar, the birth date of Shivaji Maharaj is March 1, 1630 and February 19, 1630 as per Julian calendar. Even after converting another proposed birth date, which was April 16, 1627 on Gregorian calendar into Hindu date, February 19, appeared the closest match. The final date was arrived by taking the help of Drik Panchang and converting 19 February 1630 of Julain calendar into Hindu lunar calendar.

For this Shivjayanti 

Download Free Shivaji Maharaj Powada

*You May Also Like to Download: Shivcharitra