Raigad Fort is a hill fortress situated in the near Mahad, Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. The Maratha king Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj made the fort his capital in 1674 when he was crowned King of a Maratha Kingdom which later developed into the Maratha Empire eventually covering majority of modern day India.
We (I and my dad) drove down to Raigad from Murud-Janjira on a stretch that was fairly scenic but with extremely poor quality of roads. Numerous speed-breakers and slow moving traffic were the icing on the cake. Those of you drive across India for their holidays will know what I am talking about. We stayed at Motel Visava which provides for a very comfortable stay with multi cuisine options (though veg only I think). The fort is around 30 kms from the hotel. One can stay in the fort as well, in an MTDC maintained property.
Since the fort is situated on the top of a hill, there are two ways by which you can visit the fort from the base- 1) by climbing up countless flight of stairs (1700 odd) Or 2) by using the ropeway. Ticket charges for the ropeway are nominal and you can either purchase a single way ticket or both ways. Using the ropeway presents with some fantastic view of the mountains. Since we did not use the stairs, I do not know what views can be enjoyed by using that option.
We reached Raigad on 25th December around noon, and the receptionist at the motel warned us that there would be large queue for the ropeway. We drove to the fort and realized that she was right. Enquiring at the counter, we realized that our turn would come probably after a 3 hour wait and we would reach the fort only around sun-set. While the fort itself is open till late evening, and the ropeway is in operation till about 7 pm (as I recollect, please reconfirm, if you are planning your trip basis this blog) we decided to return back to the motel and come back early morning the next day. Our rational was simple- the fort might be open till 7 pm or maybe even 9 pm, but lighting was not adequate and so we would not be able to enjoy the views or take pictures (which was the main purpose of the trip).
We reached the fort next day early morning, thinking that we would be the first, and were surprised to see that we were in a queue! Of-course it was not as bad as the day before, and we managed to board the trolley within 30 minutes. There is a canteen, and a few stalls, but since it was early morning we could get only tea and packaged stuff like biscuits, wafers etc. There is another canteen at the other end (when you reach the fort) that was offering some items like poha, idly etc. At various points in the fort, local tribals have set up makeshift stalls selling cucumbers, buttermilk (not the Amul types), packaged water, soft drinks etc, so you can travel light if you wish to. Since it was early morning, sun was rising, and as we made our way up the mountain, I managed to click a few pictures.
The fort is well spread out and it takes a fair bit of walking around to cover all the areas of the fort. Since Shivaji Maharaj established this fort as his capital, there are various chambers for the royal family, royal court, provision for mint and soldiers to stay. There are granaries, armories and a market place as well. Along the periphery of the fort, there are many sections that offer stunning view of the valley. Some of these sections are a little hard to get to, in absence of proper steps, so I would advise you to exercise discretion.
There is a Jagdish temple at one end of the fort complex. Behind the temple is Shivaji Maharaj’s samadhi and a few steps away, of his faithful pet dog.
Raigad fort has a certain significance in Maharashtra’s history, with some accounts even stating that the British used to refer to it as the “Gibraltar of the East”, and should be on “must visit” list of any history buff. As you can see, besides taking pictures of the fort, one can also shoot landscapes. The dilapidated structure of the fort also presents interesting photographic composition opportunities.