“Purandar fort is just like any other fort but still it is a special one. Fort looks like so many huge mountains have been kept on each other with so many rock patches. On the edge of rock patches, the fortified wall has been built. Inside the fort wall, there is a Machi and inside a Machi, there is a Balekilla with a total twenty-four Buruj where Shendrya Buruj is the highest among all as it feels like Shendrya Buruj is touching to the sky. And inside a Balekilla, so many warriors will show their bravery with their sword just like so many kite birds are soaring in sky..!!”– Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Purandar fort witnessed the rising of the king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj against the Adil Shahi, Bijapur Sultanate and the Mughals.
But this hill fort not only cater to the needs of history lovers but also to the desires of adventure enthusiasts.
The fort stands at 4,472 ft (1,387 m) above the sea level in the Western Ghats, 50 km to the southeast of Pune.
The fort is now used by the National Cadet Corps academy for training purposes. Currently, most part of the fort is in ruins. But the majestic beauty of this architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Western Ghats, continue to pull thousands of tourists every month.
It is well said that – each of soil of Purandar has historical chapter.
BIRTH OF PURANDAR
Its mythological name is ‘Indraneel Parvat’. According to a legend, It is said that Purandar mountain is the broken part of the Dronagiri Parvat, which Lord Hanuman carried in the Ramayana.
Further history of the Purandar is grand and plays an important role during the Maratha Empire. Being located in a strategic place, the fort witnessed several historic battles, besiegement, treaties and shifting of powers.
Purandar dates back to the Yadava Dynasty in the 11th century. Persian invaders first defeated Yadavas who further fortified the fort in 1350 A.D.
DARK DAY OF PURANDAR
Purandar then besieged several times under the rule of Bedar Sultanate. To prevent the Shendurya Bastion of fort from ever falling again, King of Bedar dreamt that, to appease its patron deity, a man should sacrifice his wife and their firstborn son on the spot, unless the foundation would never be sure. So he ordered his minster, Yesaji Naik Chive to bury his wife and his firstborn son into the foundation of the bastion which was promptly done with a further offering of gold and bricks. When the bastion was finished, a minister, was given possession of the fort and the father of the sacrificed boy was rewarded with two villages.
In 1596 A.D, the Bahudar Shah of the Adilshahi Sultanate granted the territory of “Pune” and “Supa” to Maloji Bhosale, the grandfather of Shivaji Maharaj. But even though Purandar was included in the Maratha territory, it is still under Adilshahi Sultanate.
RISE OF SWARAJYA
In 1646 A.D, a young Shivaji Maharaj in one of his first victories for the Maratha Empire, raided and established a supreme control over the Purandar fort by Shiva sutra or Ganimi Kava (guerrilla tactics).
Maharaj son’s Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was born at Purandar Fort on 16th May 1657, who latterly became second Chhatrapati of Maratha Empire and carried the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj further and earned same respect & greatness just like his father.
Despite of array of challenges, he went on to rule for 9 years which was largely shaped by the ongoing wars between the Maratha kingdom and Mughal Empire as well as other neighbouring powers such as the Siddis, Mysore, and the Portuguese in Goa.
WARRIOR MURARBAJI & MAAVALE
In 1665 A.D, Purandar was besieged by the forces of Aurangzeb, under the command of Mirza Raje Jai Singh and assisted by Diler Khan backed by 5000 strong infantries.
On that time, Murarbaji Deshpande was the Killedar (keeper) of the fort with his 700 Maavale troops, offered strong resistance against the Mughal forces. In spite of crumbling defences, Murarbaji and his troops sustained a dogged defence. Maratha folk history has it that Murarbaji showed incredible skills as a swordsman and was an aggressive and inspiring leader who pushed back and caused a retreat of a larger Mughal force.
Diler Khan, impressed with the bravery of Murarbaji offered him a truce and employment in the Mughal forces. Murarbaji turned down the offer due to his loyalty to the ideals of Hindavi Swarajya. He was extremely enraged at this very suggestion and in an act of extreme daredevilry charged with his commandos right into the heart of the Mughal troops, killing hundreds.
The remaining Marathas inside the inner walls Balekilla, refusing to surrender and willing to fight to the last man but at the end ultimately giving up their lives in a struggle to retain the fort.
TREATY OF PURANDAR
Shivaji Maharaj daunted at the prospect of the fall of his grandfather’s fort, signed a treaty known as the “First Treaty of Purandar” with Aurangzeb in 1665.
According to the treaty, Maharaj handed over following twenty-three forts including Purandar, and a territory with revenue of four lakh Hons (gold coins):
1)Purandar, 2)Vajragad, 3) Kodhana, 4)Rohida, 5)Lohagad, 6)Visapur, 7)Tikona, 8)Tung, 9)Prabalgad, 10)Mahuli, 11)Bhandargad, 12)Manaranjan, 13)Kohoj, 14)Karnala, 15)Songad, 16)Palasgad, 17)Nardurg, 18)Margagad, 19)Vasantgad, 20)Nangagad, 21)Ankola, 22)Sagargad, and 23)Maangad
In 1670 A.D, the truce did not last long as Shivaji Maharaj revolted against Aurangzeb and just like Kondhana and other forts, He also recaptured Purandar after just five years and rebuild the Swarajya.
AFTER SHIVAJI MAHARAJ
The fifth Chhatrapati of Maratha and son of Sambhaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj handed over the reigns of the fort to Peshwas under the Shake in 1695. Under the Peshwa rule, the fort acted as a stronghold whenever their capital city of Pune was under attack.
In 1776 A.D, a treaty was signed between the British Raj and the Maratha States are known as the “Second Treaty of Purandar”. Based on the terms of the accord, the British were able to secure Salsette.
Its conditions were never fulfilled and being overruled by the subsequent Treaty of Salbai in 1782 between the Bombay Government and Raghunathrao, under its terms, the Company retained control of Salsette and Broach, at the close of the First Anglo-Maratha War.
On 14 March 1818, a British garrison marched into Vajragad. As Vajragad commanded Purandar, the commandant of the fort had to accept terms, and the British flag was hoisted at Purandar on 16 March 1818. During the British Raj, the fort was used as a prison. During World War II, it was an internment camp for enemy-alien (i.e. German) families. Therefore, it would be interesting that many of the Germans today calls Purandar their birthplace.
INTO SAFE HANDS
After Independence, fort went to under Indian Army and now there also functioned a National Cadet Corps (N.C.C.) Training unit at the top of Purandar.
For more detail history of Purandar Fort
BASE VILLAGE & REGION
Gherapurandar is a medium size village located in Purandar Taluka of Pune district, Maharashtra with total 136 families residing. It is about 10 km south-west of Saswad region of Pune.
The village of Purandar takes its name from the fort. It takes about three hours to complete the trek to Purandar fort from the base village.
Perched on a gigantic mountain mass, Purandar height above sea-level is 1398 meters and about 700 meters above the plain at its foot.
Fort is situated so peculiarly that on one side it has a high rainfall zone and on another side, it has a low rainfall zone. This has resulted in different micro-climates and ultimately into wide Floral and Faunal Diversity.
Being quite a huge one, it was a good place for defense and had the capacity to house many soldier-troops, foods grains, and ammunition which proved sufficient for long duration wartime.
There are two distinct levels at the fort: the upper level is the Ballekilla and the lower level is the Machi.
There are many monuments, old and new, on the both Machi and Balekiila of Purandar fort.
This first entrance made by Indian Army in the honor of Veer Murarbaji Deshpande. It is use for the checkpoint purposes before entering into the fort.
The overall length of the Machi is one mile, and the width is 100 to 150 feet. The northern part of the Machihas several monuments and entrances with bastions to keep watch on surroundings.
Abanded Church and Bungalow
Both are at the start of the fort. It is believed that when British captured this fort, they made a church and Bungalow at the top.
Lord Dutta Mandir
Statue of Veer Murarbaji Deshpande.
This statue of Murarbaji Deshpande, the commander of the fort standing in his fighting stance gives us the feel of his courageous and fight hard nature.
Samadhi of Veer Murarbaji Deshpande.
There is tomb of Veer Murarbaji Deshpande is just behind of his statue. The tomb appears as Temple like structure that having two sculptures inside it.
While trekking to the fort from Narayanpur village, you will directly enter into Machi of the fort through this entrance.
The entrance is still in good condition. There is a guard window which is called ‘Paharekaryancha Devadya’ in Marathi and the temple at one side of the entrance. A rock-cut exposed steps at one end of the entrance that takes you to the top of the entrance where the Bhagwa (Orange flag of Maratha) is hoisted.
When you are on the straight road, you see army barracks on the other side and this bungalow on the ramp.
Lord Shiva Mandir
On the way forward, a ‘Hemadic’ style Purandeshwar temple is seen on the right side of the citadel.
Purandareshwar is the fort’s patron god and another Avatar of Lord Shiva. Peshwa Bajirao I had reconstructed this temple.
Rameshwar Peshawa Mandir
This was a private temple of Peshwa. It having the small temples of Lord Hanuman and also Lord Shiva as with the warrior sculpture placed outside of it.
At the end of the Machi on the east, The Khind that connect Purandar fort with Vajragad where the statue of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj can be seen.
Watertank & Ruin
A dry watertank and ruin of fortified wall are just between Machi and Balekilla region.
There is a small temple of Goddess Lakshmi at just ahead of Dilli Darwaja.
This is another feature of the fort which sculptured at the fortified wall which is in front of Gaumukhi Dilli Darwaja of the fort.
This is the north-facing main entrance of the Purandar. This entrance is Gaumukhi type entrance means another the fortified wall is built in front of the entrance so that no invader can see or attack this entrance.
After coming inside the Dilli Darwaza, there is another huge entrance is seen at the right which is Ganesh Entrance. Connected with the Ganesh entrance, a huge rock wall extending southwards like a cliff.
Bastion on the Ganesh Darwaja called Bawata Buruj on which another flag is hoisted.
It is the highest bastion of the Purandar build in alignment with the fortified wall which is North-west to the citadel on the lower Balekilla region.
Coming into center of the lower region of the Balekilla of the fort, you can see remnants or ruins of Raajgadi.
From the lower level, a ‘Stairways to Heaven’ leads to the upper level of Balekilla of the fort.
The upper level of the fort is also surrounded by a steep drop on three sides. This area also houses an ancient Kedareshwar Mandir.
The most important monuments, on the summit of the hill, is the old temple of Kedareshwar which is also the main deity of Purandar.
‘Deepastambha’, a stone pillar for enlightening the lamps can be seen in front of the temple.
At the end of the temple, there is a fortified bastion on eastward called as ‘Koknya Bastion’.
On safety purposes, Military has closed routes to several fortifications of the fort like Khandakada, Kedar Darwaja, Bawachi Machi and Fatte Bastions.
Towards the east of the terrace, beyond a narrow ridge, lies the fort of Vajragad also called Rudramal. The entry for Vajragad has been closed due to a recent landslide. There is one a Lord Hanuman temple with several water tanks remains on the fort.
HOW TO REACH
MUMBAI – PUNE – SASWAD – NARAYANPUR – GHERAPURANDAR – PURANDAR FORT.
The cheapest and convenient way to reach the Pune is via railways as nearest railhead to Purandar is Pune Railway station (approx. 60 kms) which is well connected to other parts of the country.
From Pune, reaching Purandar fort using public transport is a bit challenging as there is no direct transport available to the fort.
From Pune Railway station, first, you have to catch the local bus that will take you to the Pune State Transport ST Bus stand.
Now you have two ways:
- Catch Bhor or Kaparhol ST and get down at Narayanpur Village (Less Frequent)
- Catch Saswad ST and get down at Saswad ST stand and then catch Kaparhol or Bhor ST and get down at Lord Dutta Mandir in Naryanpur Village (More Frequent)
After getting down at Narayanpur stop, you will have to walk to the straight muddy path through local’s house and then farming fields of Narayanpur village.
After half an hour of the walk, the muddy path meets the main tar the road that directly goes to the fort via Murargate.
This journey from Narayanpur stop to Army checkpoint gate is 6.5km – 1 hour)
So If you have any private vehicle, you can skip this walk of 6.5km and directly reach Murargate because of the motorable Purandar road.
TREKKING & ADVENTURE
RESTRICTION on trail route
Trekking to Purandar by natural trail from Narayanpur village that goes to Binni Darwaja is now closed by the army for safety purpose and the only way to reach the fort is by the tar road through Murargate.
Therefore, trek to Purandar is an easy level trek and recommended to all age bar.
RULES & REGULATION
After reaching Murargate by any transport mode, you will be asked to show a valid Government ID proof and Driving licence (if you going by your own vehicle) by the army officer. Entry without valid ID is prohibited. So remember to carry a photo ID card. Collect token from the checkpoint and keep it safe throughout the journey and when you return, show it again at the entrance as checkout.
Keep note that entry time for the fort is 9 AM and exit time is 5 PM. So plan your journey accordingly.
The area is under Indian army control so photography is prohibited only of their property and personals.
After checkpoint, continue to walk on the cement road towards the Machi that gives you positive vibes in monsoon.
First, you will come across fortification like an Ancient Church and then temples like Purandeshwar Mandir at the end of the Machi. But the main attraction of the fort is Statue and Samadhi of Veer Murarbaji Deshpande. Remembering all his bravery during the war would definitely give us goosebumps feelings.
There is a local Canteen just after the Lord Shiva Mandir where you can do your breakfast of local food.
At the end of Canteen and from the signboard of Purandar fort, you have to take right and start ascending toward Balekila.
After steep ascending on several zigzag natural trails, you will reach the main entrance of the fort Dilli Darwaja from where the first structure of the Balekilla that comes into view.
Exploring further, there are several ruins of old buildings, water tanks, and rock steps in the lower Balekila region.
A staircase from the Machi leads to the Balekilla, one of the greatest attractions inside the fort.
The top of the fort having the Kedareshwar Temple. Several devotees of Lord Shiva visit the Kedareshwar Temple every year, especially on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri.
VIEW FROM SUMMIT
Surrounded by a lush green landscape, Purandar Fort offers some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views of the picturesque valley and area below.
modern day maavale
The uniqueness of visiting Purandar fort is you also get a chance to interact with our Indian Army people. They can guide you about the right direction in the fort and treat you in a good manner but even on the suspect, they can check your belongings. But we have to follow their rules calmly no matter what as they are doing their duty and as citizens, it is our duty to respond to them in a well manner.
Because of these strict restrictions by Indian Army, Purandar Fort is the cleanest and safest fort among others. And I personally think this should be apply in all other forts of Maharashtra as to conserve the forts in right way, it is necessary to have discipline among visitors while visiting such historical heritage.
Staying and Camping is not allowed as there are a strict entry and exit time for visiting the fort.
In case if you are traveling from a faraway place, you can either stay at the hotels in Narayanpur or in Saswad.
In emergency cases, shelters on the fort available in military camps/bungalows situated on the fort. Note that prior permission of the officers is needed to get this accommodation.
FOOD & WATER FACILITY
Canteen at Machi, which only serves onion bhaji, vada-pavs, packaged chips, tea and water.
Otherwise, carry your own food and sufficient water for the trek.
There is one car parking inside the Murargate (Chargeable) and outside the Murargate (Non-Chargeable) and the other is at the end of the Machi.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The region in and around Purandar fort experiences a bearable climate throughout the year, and hence it is a year-round destination.
But the rainy season which lasts from July to September is the best time to visit the fort as the surroundings are lush green and the weather is very pleasant. This is the period when the natural beauty in and around the region is at its peak.
For the most part of the day, the surroundings won’t be visible from the fort due to heavy fog and hence October to February will be a perfect time to visit the fort if you looking to have a glimpse of the nearby regions
Sahyadri which stretch along the north-south direction, also have ranges that branch off eastward. On one of it is Sinhagad stands and the same range continues for 24 Km before terminating at Bhuleshwar. The Prestigious ‘Purandar’ lies on this range along with Vajragad. From Sinhagad, we have to travel across Katraj Ghat, Bapdeo Ghat and Dive Ghat to reach up to the foothills of the Purandar. If sky is clear then you get a view of Sinhagad, Rajgad and Torna fort.
The thousand-year-old Narayaneshwar temple of the Hemadpanthi architecture built by the Yadavas still exists at Narayanpur stop.
FINAL THOUGHT ON PURANDAR FORT
“It’s not just about the points of interest that will delight you, it’s the overall surrounding, ambiance, aroma, and history which will make you fall in love with the Purandar Fort”
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