Saturday, April 02, 2005


Pratapgad lies on just off Mahad Mumbai road. It is an imposing structure, visible from many locations in Mahabaleshwar. It was prudent to take a guide because it takes atleast an hour to walk through the fort. It has 3 buruj, a chor vat, a bale-killa and lots of stories. It was basically built to house Bhavani mandir as Tuljapur was close to Bijapur Jaagir and Shivaji couldnt pay a visit to first Goddess of Mahasrashtra without fighting the forces of the Mughal.

The tomb of Afzalkhan and Sayyad Banda is out of bounds because of some land related dispute (nothing to do with VHP's Afzal kabar hatao campaign). Now, the tomb is a resting place of Afzal Khan minus his head, because Shivaji took his head to Raigad to show Jijamata as proof. On Raigad, is the head tomb.

The Rajmarg is still quite intact, but the fort suffers from general neglect and awful and chrono-illogically shoddy restoration.

1. The steps have been re-built with tiles and cement, against the original black stone path. Not only it is an eye sore, but the quality of material and work is poor and shoddy.

2. Lots of shops, food stalls and tarpaulin houses mar the beauty of the fort. Possibly these people have been living there since Shivaji's time. But, when someplace is a tourist spot, its in the best of everyone to have everything there restored to that period and remove whatever that cannot be. These people could easily be settled in Jawali village at the footsteps of the fort.

3. There is a sparkling new auditorium constructed - with granite tiles, aluminium sliding, and AC - adjacent to the centuries old Bhavani temple - housing to the idol, spatik shivling (that Shivaji carried everywhere) and a sword of that era. Time travel anyone? The temple name is inscribed in thermocol!

4. The fort is owned not by Government but by BJP MLA, Udayan Raje Bhosale, the descendant of Shivaji. Possibly, has a grudge against his royal ancestory and wants the legacy to go to seed.

PS- From Mahabeslwar, one is better off taking the longer Pune route rather than Poladpur. Major traffic since Goa-Mumbai highway also joins along the way. The longer route is surely quicker.
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