Friday, November 19, 2010

Visit to Fort Lohagad : A Photo Travelogue





I had heard a lot of the unique fortification of Lohagad and was wanting to see it myself. Finally on 9.1.2010 , the opportunity came my way when a trip to Lohagad was actually decided upon.


Pic source: whereincity.com

Lohagad lies around fifty kilometers from Pune. It is located at the foothills of Lohagadwadi village , which is centrally located around ten kilometers between Malavali and Lonavala. It is around 3500 feet above sea level.


There are two routes to reach Lohagad (by car) from Pune. One being Pune city (Paud road)- Chandni Chowk-Pirangut-Paud village-Dudhiware Khind-Lohagadwadi. The other route is Pune city-Pune Mumbai expressway-Lonavala-Malavale-Lohagadwadi .(You can even take a road from within Lonavala directly to Lohagadwadi. This road is comparatively well maintained). We preferred the Pune Lonavala route.
We had to park our car at Lohagadwadi and tread the path up the fort on foot.


At the entrance we saw an saffron coloured board which displayed the history of the fort. A sage, Lomesh was said to have meditated here.
The fort supposedly existed since the Satavahana period (2000-2500 years back), followed by the rule of the Chalukyas, then the Rashtrakutas and the Yadavas.
Later it passed hands from the Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar (One of the Nizamshah rulers, Burhan II was imprisoned on this fort) to the Adilshahi of Bijapur, before being captured by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1648.



But Shivaji had to cede it to the Mughals vide the treaty of Purandar in 1665. Shivaji recaptured the fort in 1670 and used it for storing his treasury (the Surat loot?). The fort once again changed hands to the mughals only to be captured by Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre in 1713. Angre had apparently camped here when he had a meeting with Peshwe Balaji Vishwanath , which led to the former accepting Shahu as his king. The fort thereafter came directly under the Satara throne.
Thus the fort passed over to Chatrapati Shahu and was in the charge of his Peshwa,Balaji Vishwanath. The fort later came under the supervision of Nana Phadanvis, the erstwhile chief minister of the Peshwas (Sawai Madhavrao). He had this fort renovated. The fort was managed by his trusted aides Javji Bomble and subsequently Dhondopant Nitsure.Nana Phadavis's wife too resided in this place after his death.



The British captured the fort in 1818 after the siege of Visapur fort. The British commander Col.Prother apparently took over this fort without firing a single cannon ball. But the structures on the fort were subsequently razed to the ground by the Britishers and the fort was rendered inactive.


The initial steps are made from stone cut from the mountain itself.



One encounters many monkeys lurking around waiting expectantly for food being thrown at them by the tourists. But we were warned not to entertain them lest they follow you all the way to the fort, even attempting to snatch unguarded foodpackets from the tourists.


On the way we noticed around twenty villagers ( we were told they were from Lohagadwadi and the neighbouring Bhaje village) pulling up a giant wooden gate , apparently meant for one of the fort gates. They were chanting slogans like ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and ‘Shivaji maharaj ki jai’ as they were pulling up that giant gate up the fort steps.


One has to pass through four main gates while climbing the fort.


The first gate is Ganesh darwaza, which can be identified by a Ganesh carvings flanking the gate. One family by the name of Savale apparently offered themselves as a human sacrifice (as was the practice of those times) in return for the 'Patilki' /revenue collection-headmen rights for the village Lohagadwadi. A shilalekh in its vicinity indicates this gruesome fact.




There are three more gates viz. the Narayan darwaza (Constructed by Nana Phadanvis between 1790-94. There exists a secret tunnel where rice and foodgrains were kept for safe storage),the Maha darwaza (probably the one that can be reached by climbing a stone stairway)


and the Hanuman darwaza (which has an equally beautiful Hanuman carved on the gate). These were also constructed as per instructions by Nana Phadanvis.


On the midway, one encounters cellars which probably housed the sentries on duty (or were used as storehouses).


Midway there is also one huge cave which may have been a storehouse. Next to it is a huge water cistern.


As you look down the fort walls the pattern of the ramparts below presents a very unique design.


Down below one can also see the vast expanse of the Pawna lake adorned with the lush greenery around it.


There is also a panoramic view of the Fort Visapur which is in proximity to Lohagad. (Note, there are also many other forts in the vicinity like Tung ,Tikona,Korigad,Ghangad, etc besides the famous Buddhist caves of Bhaja,Bedse and Karla) .


After a forty five minute climb and five hundred odd steps later, we reached the top of the fort.


 The fort then onwards is a plateau. The once existing structures are now in ruins.


 There is an tomb, supposedly of an Arab invader, Sheikh Umar (acc. to some belonged to Aurangzebs daughter) who had occupied the fort at one point of time.This tomb has since been converted into a dargah. There are two more similar dargahs towards the right which are habitated.


One more prominent cave like structure we came across is what remains of the ‘Laxmi kothi’where the Maratha chief minister Nana Phadanvis had supposedly hidden his treasures after an attempt was made to seize them by the then Peshwa Bajirao II.


There were also two water tanks one octagonal and other hexadecagonal in shape.


There is also one Mahadev temple constructed before a seemingly ancient Shiva linga.


We also came across several small cannon barells which may have been used by the Maratha army.
There were once edifices on the fort called as Khajindar kothi,Laxmi Kothi, sadars etc which since have ceased to exist.


As you go up north you see strip of land extending which takes you to the buruj (watch tower) which is the extreme end of the fort. It is almost 1500 meter by 30 meter in area and appears like a scorpions tail and is aptly called the ‘Vinchu kata’ .


The entire fort was covered in an hours time and we retraced back the path we came by.



We had lunch at the local dhaba at the foothills before bidding adieu to the fort.



Text and Photographs (except the ones credited) : Abhijit Rajadhyaksha

12 comments:

  1. Good work Ace, nice post on a great place. I wish I could just take off from work and visit Lohagad.

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  2. Best time to visit Lohagad is in the monsoons. Thats when the Sahayadri mountains drape themselves with a green blanket and a misty headress. The atmosphere is really ethereal.

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  3. I am planning to visit Lohagad this weekend. Can anyone please suggest if private car parking is available in lohagad and is theer any time limit for teh same? Also i m travelling from Mumbai to Lohagad - Can anyone sugggest with the best direction?

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  4. There is ample parking space below Lohagad.

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  5. Hi, Very well written. You have explained the nitt-grittys of the fort structure to the T.

    We are a group of 12 odd people planning to visit Lohagad on the way to out night halt at Pune. We have an old person and two people who may find the 500 steps strenuous. So I wanted to know how difficult are the 500 odd steps to climb. Please do reply about the steepness, difficulty level and spaces to sit if you get tired of climbing up. Also, are there any food stalls at the parking area?

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  6. Preeti,the steps at Lohagad arent steep at all. Its just that when it comes to old people a little discretion is always necessary, especially if someone has a heart ailment.However they can climb the steps at their own pace. One can always rest in between the climb.
    Since there is a tiny village fort at the base of the fort, there is ample parking space and also one chai ki tapri. But its always advisable to carry your own refreshments.

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  7. Hi Ace, Thank you for the quick response. I was worried about the stairs as its monsoon going on..! Keep travelling & keep writing :)

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  8. Its really a beautiful, gr8 for one day outing(not callin it trek). I'v been there couple of times, we had taken the Pune-Lonavala local train til "malavali station".. N its accessible from there:)

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  9. Saurav, Lohagad is one of the most beautiful forts which is still in a quite better shape. Did u get to see the Visapur fort that faces it? Bhaje caves are also in the vicinity.

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  10. Pictures are very beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Lohagad Fort or the Iron Fort is certainly one of the most spectacular sightseeing spots in the twin hill stations of Khandala and Lonavala. The narrow, zig zag steps leading up to the fort are estimated to be about 500 in number. Check out all best places to visit near Pune also.

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  11. Wonderful article about your visit to fort Lohagad and it is very new place to me.Thank you for sharing your experience and telling us about the new place. Bus Tickets

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