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

Friday, 19 January 2018

Essay on Jijabai

Essay on Rajmata Jijabai

Jijabai or Rajmata Jijabai, as she was fondly called, was an influential figure in the medieval period of Indian history. She was born on January 12, 1598 in Sindkhed, Maharashtra in a family of the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri. Her mother was Malasa Bai, and father, Lakhoji Jadhavrao, who was a Hindu chieftain and a general in Nizam Shah's army stationed in Ahmednagar.


Married Life

She was married at an early age to Shahajiraje Bhosale, a Maratha chieftain at the court of Nizam Shah. Soon after her marriage, she shifted to Pune with her husband when he was handed over the jagir of Pune and Supa by Nizam Shah.


During those days, Pune used to be a barren land full of jungles and wild animals. Despite this, she encouraged her people to settle down and start cultivation. She started her stint in Pune by renovating the Kasaba Ganapati temple. She didn't long for her pre-marriage life, which was full of luxuries and instead accepted Pune as her new home.

Inspirational and an ideal mother

She gave birth to eight children, out of which all the six daughters died in infancy, and only two sons – Sambhaji and Shivaji survived. Sambhaji was the elder son, who would accompany his father on various expeditions. Shivaji, being the younger stayed with his mother.


She brought up Shivaji with good morals and instigated in him the desire of a free Hindu state or Swarajya from a very young age. Under her guidance and inspiration, Shivaji took the oath of Swarajya and became a leader of a small army at the age of 15.

An avenger, efficient administrator, and patriotic

She was the brain behind avenging the death her elder son, who was killed by Afzal Khan during a military expedition in Karnataka. She knew that the Afzal Khan would not stop until he has eliminated all the members of her family. And when Afzal Khan called Shivaji under the guise of meeting, she was aware that Shivaji would either be killed or imprisoned for a lifetime. She then advised Shivaji to go prepared and avenge the death of his brother by killing Afzal Khan. And History knows what happened during the meeting.


Jijamata was very much interested in the welfare of her kingdom. She used to take an active interest in every socio-political affairs and would give her decisions on major issues. She also inspired her father and husband to give up serving Mughals and establish an independent state. She just wanted to drive away the invaders from Maharashtra and build a Maratha empire. During those days, there was some misunderstanding between two the clans of Marathas – the Jadhavs and Bhosales. Her advice helped her father resolve the differences and unite both the clans. It was she who told her father that if Marathas unite and leave aside personal ego and greed, it would take no time to vanquish the invaders.

*You May Also Like to Download: Shivcharitra in Marathi PDF

Shivaji Maharaj fulfilled her ambition of 'Swaraj.' Under her tutelage, he conquered many forts and established the Maratha empire. She passed away on June 17, 1674 barely a few days after the coronation of Shivaji

Friday, 22 December 2017

Shivaji Maharaj History: Shivrajyabhishek

Shivaji Maharaj was one of the greatest Maratha warriors who was instrumental in establishing the Maratha empire and starting the socio-politico movement by the name Hindavi Swarajya. He was known for his administration and disciplined military. But he was most famous for his military tactics or guerrilla warfare. Such was his skills that his strongest of enemies used to fear him. For they never knew when, how, and from where he would attack them. At the young age of 15, he conquered many regions around Pune under the rule of Bijapur Sultanate, with the help of his loyal soldiers of the Maval region.

After gaining control over Pune and Konkan regions, he decided to assume a title of the king and establish Hindu Sovereignty. That's what paved the way for his Rajyabhishek on June 6, 1674. The place selected for the ceremony was an open ground in a small village called Meghdambari in Raigad. It is estimated that there were 50,000 general people and 20,000 brahmins who attended the ceremony.

Shivrajyabhishek Sohla Description

The Rajyabhishek was done according to the Hindu shastras by Pandit Gaga Bhatt. He held a gold vessel containing sacred water from Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Ravi, Sindhu, Krishna, and Kaveri over Shivaji's head and chanted coronation mantras until the very last drop of water from the sacred vessel was completely emptied. Once the ablution was done, Shivaji Maharaj touched his mother Jijabai's feet and took her blessings. The main priest then put a sacred thread called jaanva over Shivaji's shoulder with the reciting of mantra.


After the rituals were over, Shivaji changed into the king's attire and proceeded to the throne. While he was heading, all the brahmins started chanting mantras. The crowd also shouted 'jai jai' ecstatically and musicians played music. To give the ceremony a royal touch, canon balls were also fired. Then, Pandit Bhatt headed towards the thrown with a royal umbrella decked with gold and pearls. He stood beside Shivaji Maharaj, held the umbrella over his head, and bestowed the title of Chatrapati (paramount sovereign), Kshatriya Kulavantas (head of Kshatriya), and Shakakarta (head and founder of an era), and Haindavi Dharmodhhaarak (one who uplifts the sanctity of Hinduism) to him and announced him the 'king'. This coronation was one of the best that India had ever seen in the history.


Soon after his coronation, a procession was held through the streets of the capital city with Shivaji on the back of an elephant. The march was accompanied by his ministers, generals, and commoners. There was jubilation all over and people were proud of him since he took the bold step of Rajyabhishek without bothering about taking permission for the same from the Mughals. But the joy didn't last for long because of the demise of his mother on 18th June 1674. Since the demise of his mother just after his coronation was considered as a bad omen, all the priests decided to have the coronation ceremony again on 24th September 1674, which was performed according to Bengali School of Tantricism by Nischal Puri.

*You May Also Like to Download: Shivcharitra in Marathi PDF