Shivneri Fort: The Birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (2021)
The Shivneri Fort is one of the most important locations in Maharashtra tourism. With the cultural and historical importance that it has, it is an integral part of the fort tourism in Maharashtra. Here is all you need to know about the Shivneri Fort.
Historical Importance of Shivneri Fort
Shivneri Fort is the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, making it the cradle of the Maratha War of Independence. The fort could be as old as the 1 AD, as there is ample evidence like rock-cut architecture to suggest its age. The fort changed many hands until 1820 when it finally came under the British Rule after the Third Anglo-Maratha war. One aspect of note is that though Shivaji Maharaj was born here, he could never capture this fort. It was the Pratapgad Fort that cemented his place in Maharashtrian and Indian history.
Architecture and Settlements in the Fort
The Shivneri Fort has a unique, triangular shape. It is more than 1.5 km long with seven gates to defend the fortress. Several structures exist within the fort, including a mosque, a tomb, a prayer hall. The other spectacular structures in the Shivneri fort are a water pond, known as the Badami Talav and two water springs. You will also be able to see statues of a young Shivaji and Jijabai.
This location has a two-story memorial of the Chattrapati, along with his mother, Jijabai.
The fort is a visualization of the life and times of the warriors back then. You will be able to see a big granary that stocked foodgrains. Experts concede that the granary could hold foodgrain for more than a thousand people for around seven years. The fort is also home to two cisterns, which experts say are almost two thousand years old.
There are seven doors in the fort, the Mahadar Door, the Pir Door, the Parvangi Door, the Hathi Door, the Shipai Door, the Phatak Door, and the Kulabkar Door.
Tourist Experience at the Fort
The fort is on a hill, and you will need to cross at least 400 steps to reach the top. It is a bit of a trek, so you need to plan. It is an easy but lengthy trek. One common misconception among new tourists of forts is that they can travel around in floaters or sandals – that is not a case. You will need proper, well gripping shoes with studs to complete any fort visit, let alone a trek. There is no commercial activity within the fort, so you will need to take some snacks and water around. There are toilets at strategic locations as well. There are some local snack vendors at the base of the fort, though.
As usual, the Shivneri Fort and the valley come alive during the monsoon season. The best season to trek up here is the monsoon season. You will take anything between 45 minutes to two hours to reach the top of the fort. From the top, you get a scintillating view of the Junnar City.
Places Near Shivneri Fort:
Shivneri Fort is in Junnar, so you have a lot of places to visit near the fort as well. This area is not just historical but it is a spiritual location as well. Near the Shivneri Fort, you can visit the Vigneshwara Temple, a Ganesha Temple that now has a temple owned stay, Bhakti Niwas.
You can also visit the nearby 2 Ashtavinayaka temples, one of Shree Vignahar Ganpati Temple at Ozar, and the other is the Girijatmajh Temple at Lenyadri for a pleasant experience.
Shree Vignahar Ganpati Temple at Ozar is on the banks of a river, making for a scenic view. Both these temples have a distinct history and origin story.
Both temples have a unique architecture that gives you a glimpse of a forgotten style of architecture, one of the last symbols of Maratha grandeur. There are some dams around the Shivneri Fort as well, the Manikdoh Dam and the Pimpalgaon Joga Dam.
Near the Shivneri Fort, you can visit the Junnar Caves and the Lenyardi Caves. There are spacious and well-planned steps to take to the top of the caves. The Cave structure consists of more than 200 individual rock-cut Buddhist caves on the four hills of Junnar. These caves are the longest cave extraction in India, and the largest as well. A proper tour will take you through the chapel caves and the dwellings of the monks who lived here. The caves have various inscriptions that tell you about the artwork of a time gone.
Probably the most popular place near the Shivneri Fort is the Malshej Ghat, the favorite of trekkers and travelers during the monsoon season. The ghat is a mountain pass and is famous for the waterfalls that one can see while passing through. You get an incredible view of the valley below, which blooms to its full beauty during the monsoon season.
If you do plan to visit all these places at one go, you need to plan out at least a weekend. Reaching the caves from the fort is a matter of minutes. You will need at least an afternoon to spend at the caves and another at the fort. And then, the dams and Malshej Ghat is a good one-hour drive.
And if you want to stretch your holiday, you can even plan to visit the Nashik vineyards. It is nearly a 3-hour drive, but the Nashik Vineyards are something to experience, even if a little bit of wine tasting does not interest you.
How to Reach Shivneri Fort?
You can reach Shivneri Fort either from Mumbai or Pune. To reach Shivneri from Mumbai, you will have to drive for 150 km, or you can board a bus that takes about 4 hours. You can also take a train from Mumbai to Neral and then proceed by taxi or bus from Neral. From Pune, the Shivneri Fort is comparatively closer from Pune- just a 2.5-hour drive. The total distance from Pune station to Junnar is about 100 km. You will find many State Transport buses plying on these routes.