My backpack…check, A bottle of water…check, First aid kit…check, Wallet …. check, Sunglasses…check, …and there we were, geared up for our first semi-adventure trip that would take us to witness a magnificent reminiscent of history. Life has been so caught up off late, that I could barely manage some leisure time in my new city, my new home, Pune. I have heard so much about the city that I already had a mental check list prepared of things I want to do once I start living here. Even during my “Duronto” ride to the city, I had rendezvous with many Bong aunties who excitedly bragged about the beauty and charm that the city beholds, and how they are unwilling to return to where their roots belong. Frankly speaking, even such words of praise could do little to buoy me into falling love with a complete stranger city.
My daily schedule got so over-board with settling down, shopping, unpacking, memorizing my new address, getting used to my new identity and my new job that I almost forgot, that the city is indeed a paradise of so many beautiful locales that is worth exploring, until one weekend when my beau suddenly planned to take me to a bike trip to visit the ruins of Sinhagad Fort.
It was a Saturday, and I along with my partner was ready to set out to explore history that was not less than a few hundred years old. Located 30 kilometres southwest to the city of Pune, it takes at least an hour and a half to reach the fort. Once you have crossed the busy traffic of this emerging metro, the first spot that will take your breath away is the mesmerizing site of Khadakwasla Lake, and trust me it is very unlike the lakes that we have seen in any of the metropolitans. Located 20 kilometres away from Pune, the lake is one of the most popular places to visit around the city. It is also lovingly called a chaat-escapade by many. There is a dam built across the lake and no prize for guessing that it is called Khadakwasla Dam. It is also the main source of water for Pune. Located in the vicinity of dam, is Sinhagad Fort and the twin dams of Panshet and Varasgaon, but as you know by this time, Sinhagad Fort was our chosen destination for the day. Perched on the isolated cliff of the Bhuleshwar Range of the imposing Sahyadri Mountain, Sinhagad Fort was the site of many battles, the most important of among which was the battle of Sinhagad fought in 1670. It is situated 1312 meters above the sea level and had probably been built 2000 years ago. One of the most famous battles fought here was to recapture the Fort by Tanaji Malusare, a general of Shivaji way back in March 1670. Tanaji won the battle but at the cost of his life.
There is a famous folk tale that says upon the news of Tanaji’s death, Shivaji expressed his grief with the words, “Gad ala pan sinha gela”, which literally means “We gained the fort, but lost the lion”. Many believed that the fort earlier named Kodhana, earned its name Sinhagad after this heroic event. Even today people visiting the ruins of the Sinhagad Fort can see the written communiqués from the era that reminds us of the great Maratha victory. We chose to travel to the fort on bike, but there is a famous trekking route available as well for the more adventurous souls. The Fort is adorned with many historical structures such as the tomb of Tanaji and Rajaram, the younger son of Shivaji, who also lost his life in the Fort. In ancient days Sinhagad Fort played the crucial role of defending Pune from foreign attacks. The fort has a long history of being captured by the Muhammad bin Tughlaq from the Koli tribal cheiftan, Nag Naik. Three centuries later it was won by Marathas during the reign of Shivaji. The Fort is open for tourists until 7 in the evening and I suggest visitors to stay there until sunset to witness one of the most glorious sights of nature. While our way back it was already dark. The view of the glistening city lights from atop the hill simply took my heart away. Your ride back home can be fun and adventurous. I would say that it is not dangerous for a careful driver, although it’s only advisable to not stop your vehicle at any isolated place on your way back. There hasn’t been any report of crime in the region since it is under security patrolling yet as they say one should always be alert.