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Category Archives: Forts and Palaces

The Legendary Fort of Chittorgarh

The Legendary Fort of Chittorgarh

The Chittorgarh Fort holds a great place in the Indian history. Its palaces, broken walls show the heroism of innumerable sieges. This fort is located in the Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. It is a seven mile fort with a number of palaces. This amazing fort is spread in a large area and located at a great height. It is the largest fort in India in terms of area.

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The Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh was one of the furiously contested seats of power in India. It was fortified many times but, the legendary founder of the Sisodia dynasty-Bappa Rawal finally received the Chittor in the middle of the eighth century. This seat was the part of the last Solanki princess’s dowry. In 1330, Allauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi fascinated by tales of the exquisite beauty of Padmini who was the Rani of Chittor. After this, he wanted to verify himself about the tales. So, he went Chittor with his army. His armies surrounded the Chittor and the sultan sent a message to Rana Ratan Singh, Padmini’s husband, to say that he would leave the city with his army only if he could able to meet his famous beautiful queen. So, at last Rana Ratan Singh compromised with the sultan to save his empire. He sent a message to the Sultan that if you came unarmed into the fort, only then you would be able to take a reflection of the Rani of Chittorgarh. After this, the Sultan decided accordingly to go up the hill and have a glimpse reflection of the beautiful Padmini standing by a lotus pool. After that Khilji decided to conquer the fort to win Rani Padmini in the battle. Many warriors of both the sides died during the battle. Rana Ratan Singh saved himself and did not want to surrender, due to all that, khilji decided to attack Rani Padmini directly. After hearing this, Rani Padmini and other women of the fort decided to perform Jauhar (self immolation of women and subsequent march of men to the battlefield to end their life with respect) to avoid capture and dishonor at the hands of Muslim invaders. So, this was the famous story behind the famous fort and the beautiful rani’s end. Thus, the fort represents the epitome of tribute to the nationalism, courage, sacrifice exhibited by the Mewar rulers of Sisodia and their kinsmen, women and children.

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Chittorgarh Fort

Many other battles were taking place to conquer the fort but this was the important one in terms of sacrifice. The huge fort has many things inside it to visit. To reach the fort, one has to pass through the seven huge gates (Pol) namely, Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Jorla Pol, Ganesh Pol, Laxman Pol and the last one is Ram Pol.

Popular places to see and visit in the fort are:-

Tower of Victory (Vijay Stambh) – It was built in 1440 AD by the famous ruler Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mohammed Khilji. It is a nine storey tower, adorned mostly by the sculptures of Hindu deities. Around 157 narrow steps are there that leads to the terrace of the tower.

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Vijay Stambh (Tower of Victory)

Tower of Fame (Kirti Stambh) – This tower is dedicated to Adinathji, the first Jain Teerthankar and adorned with the naked figures of the Digambers.

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Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame)

Gaumukh Reservoir – This reservoir is basically a deep tank filled by a spring coming from a “cow mouth”, located at the edge of the cliff.

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The Gaumukh Reservoir

Rana Kumbha Palace – This place is totally ruined now and is most famous as the Rani Padmini and other women committed Jauhar there. In spite of the ruined building, it is of great historical and architectural interest.

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Rana Kumbha Palace Ruins

Padmini Palace – This palace is also famous there as Rani Padmini lived here. It is a distinct feminine structure that overlooks a beautiful pool. This is the palace which is responsible for the battle between Allauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh.

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Padmini Palace

Meera Temple – Also known as Meerabai Temple, it was also built by the Maharana Kumbha in 1449. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.

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Meera (or Meerabai) Temple

Kalika Mata Temple – This temple is also located inside the fort and simply dedicated to Goddess Kali. It was built originally as Surya or Sun Temple and after that converted to Kali temple.

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Kalika Mata Temple

Fateh Prakash Palace (Government Museum) – This palace or museum was built up by the Maharana Fateh Singh and so the name of the museum is. It is a huge palace with all modern amenities. There is a big sculpture of Lord Ganesha, a fountain and many frescoes. Now, the palace becomes a museum and has a rich collection of sculptures from temples and buildings in the Chittorgarh fort. Today, it is managed by the government of India.

So, Chittorgarh fort has many places to visit and each has its own past behind it. If anyone visits this place then, one should also visit Udaipur to know the whole past and the history behind the city’s battles and the Maharaja’s & Rani’s sacrifices towards their beloved ones.

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The Marvelous Fort of Pune – Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada is a legendary fort located in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. It was built in 1746 and served as the ruling seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire till 1818. While most part of the fort was destroyed in 1828 by a brutal fire, the remaining structure is now maintained by the government as a tourist site. Tourist visits this place due to the elegant architecture and craftsmanship.

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Delhi Gate entrance at Shaniwar Wada in Pune

This magnificent fort is unique in itself. It has many gates, fortified walls with bastions and court halls. It is a seven storied structure that reflects its beauty very well. The main gate of the fort is known as Dilli Darwaja (Delhi Gate) and the other popular gates are Mastani Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Ganehs Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja. The Mastani Darwaja was used by Mastani, second wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I. He later built a separate palace called the Mastani Mahal (previous post) for her. The walls of the palace fort were full of paintings especially the scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

A glamorous 16 petal lotus shaped fountain stands in the complex of the fort, shows the exquisite work of those times. It was basically constructed for the pleasure of the infant Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao. Each petal of the fountain has sixteen jets with an eighty foot arch. It is said to be the most complex fountain created at that time.

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Lotus Petal Shaped Fountain

This historic fort was once a residential area of 1,000 people. Other important buildings in the palace include the Thoraiya Rayancha Diwankhana, Naachacha Diwankhana and Juna Arsa Mahal. After the fire, only the living areas are available. The above said buildings have been designed and constructed by many well-known artisans, including Shivaram Krishna, Devaji, Kondaji Sutar, Morarji Patharwat Bhojraja and Ragho.

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

One can also enjoy the light and sound show available there, especially in the evening. So, during the tour of Maharashtra, this fort must be placed in the itinerary.

 
 

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Mastani Mahal recreated at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

Mastani Mahal was a palace built by Bajirao I for his second wife Mastani. Stories and movies related to Mastani are well known to the people. It was named after this leading lady of immense beauty and skills. He built this palace for Mastani at Kothrud. After a long time of negligence, the palace fell into ruins. Mrityunjaya Temple, along with few other ruins, is now what remains at the site.

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Painting of Mastani

It was Dr Dinkar G. Kelkar who preserved some of its remnant when the palace was dismantled. He tried to recreate the beauty of Mastani Mahal’s inside architecture in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. Dinkar Kelkar was an ardent art collector, so he transplanted the fine wooden pillars and wall paintings to his museum in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

There is a special section inside the museum that is dedicated to the legacy of Mastani Mahal. Its living room assembled the old carpenters work. The replicated architecture inside the museum reveals the intricate design and woodcarving. The breathtaking furnishing recalls the atmosphere of the home of Mastani, whose portrait on glass is also presented in the museum. It is a lesser know, but a great place to visit in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

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Mirror in Mastani Mahal

 

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The Lion’s Fort – Sinhagad Fort

Sinhagad Fort is famous for its valor and that is etched in every stone and the soil of the fort. It has turned red as it was seeped by the blood of martyrs. From the time when a Koli chieftain, Nag Naik stoutly defended this fort against the might of the Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq for nine months to Jaswant Singh, Aurangzeb’s commander, who yanked his guns up the fort’s steep shoulders to chastise the insult to Shaista Khan, who was dismissed by Shivaji. This fort has been inculcated by tales of bravery.

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Sinhagad Fort

It was there only where Shivaji’s general; Tanaji Malusare launched an attack to reminiscence the fort. In the resulting battle, Tanaji courageously laid down his life, but captured the fort. A lamenting Shivaji is known to have said, “Gad Ala Pans Sinh Gela” (The fort is won but the lion has gone). So the fort got its name Sinh (lion’s) gad (fort). The fort reminds of the valor of Tanaji for conquering the fort.

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Tanaji Malusare Statue at Sinhagad Fort

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The entrance of Sinhagad Fort

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View from the Pune Darwaja

 
 

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Shivaji’s Childhood Palace – Lal Mahal

Lal Mahal, as the name suggests, is a red brick building located at Pune. It is an important historical building as it was built by Dadaji Konddev in 1640, two years after he had ownership of Pune city from the Adilshahi Sultans. Konddev brought Shivaji and his wife up there, and then built this palace.

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The renovated Lal Mahal in Pune

It was the childhood home of Shivaji as he spent many years there. The statue of Jijamata (Shivaji’s mother) is placed inside the palace. There is another structure of young Shivaji with a golden plow looked after by his with mother Jijabai and Guru Dadoji Konddev. Four umbrellas on the terrace are the main attraction of the Mahal. This is the place where Shivaji Maharaj cut Shaistekhan’s fingers when he was trying to escape from the windows of the Lal Mahal.

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Many incidents from Shivaji Maharaj’s life are vividly illustrated on the walls of this palace. A garden is also there which is dedicated to Jijamata, so known as Jijamata Garden. In this garden, Kids, Senior Citizens spend their evenings very enjoyably.
The Pune Municipal Corporation had remodeled this Mahal in the year 1988. In its present renovated avatar, this magnificent Lal Mahal resembles more a sandstone red place, than a traditional Wada. This marvelous structure is just next to Shaniwarwada. Many pictorial representations of different incidents from Shivaji Maharaj’s life could be seen on the walls of this palace which attracts lots of tourist. It is another historic place worth visiting in Pune, Maharashtra.

 

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Vasai Fort – The Portuguese Heritage

The Bassein Fort or Vasai Fort is standing as a guard over the Arabian Sea. Located in Vasai village of the Thane district in Maharashtra, it overlooks the Bassein Beach that flourished as a popular tourist destination and was once an important ship building site. The wide beach coastline of Bassein resemble to that of the Goa. The Portuguese had a stronghold till 1739 and after that it was taken over by the Marathas. Many Temples and Churches are there that have unfolded glory, even now they look glamorous. It is an ideal place to relax after a long work schedule.

Bassein Fort’s Facade

Presently, barricading all round the fort is almost complete. Many watch towers still stand there with safe staircases that leading up. Inside Vasai Fort, there are many Portuguese buildings that are in ruins. Some buildings have well-preserved facades. In particular, many of the arches have withstood over the years and remarkably well. Usually, they are decorated with carved stones, some resist beyond recognition, while others still showing sharp chisel marks.

Entrance of Vasai Fort

Three shrines inside the fort are still noticeable. They have large facades typical of 17th-century churches of the Portuguese times. The southernmost of these shrines, there has a well preserved barrel-vaulted ceiling. All the shrines are superbly designed.

The Courtyard of the Church inside Vasai Fort

Many Bollywood movies like Josh, Khamoshi and Ram Gopal Verma’s Aag have been shot here. Besides all the structures, one should not miss observing the beautiful nature, placid climate and cool breeze. Also watch the activities of natural animals like butterflies, birds, plants and reptiles.

African Hoopoe near the fort

The Archaeological Survey of India has started renovation work of the fort, although the quality of the work has been severely denounced by “conservation activists”. It is said that the fort has a bad reputation for illegal activities and due to which it is not advisable for tourists or women to visit it during the weekends.

 

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Where Mahatma Gandhi was Imprisoned – Aga Khan Palace

Aga Khan Palace is yet another historical site in Maharashtra that holds a great significance in Indian history. It is located at about 2 Km away from Bund Garden in Yerwada, on Pune-Nagar Road. It is also recognized as Kasturba Gandhi Memorial or Kasturba Samadhi. It was built in 1892 by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Agakhan III and was donated to India in 1969 by Aga Khan IV as an act of charity because the areas of Pune drastically hit by famine at that time.

Aga Khan Palace

Historically, this palace is a ceremonial building and is closely associated with the Indian Freedom Movement as it served as a prison for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, his secretary Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu. It is the place where Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai died. In 2003, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) declared the palace as a monument of national importance.

Mahatma Gandhi Memorial inside the Palace

This lonely palace once belonged to the Agha Khan, served as quarters for imprisonment of Gandhi and his wife Kasturba towards the trail end of the British rule in India. It is situated near the river Mula and is just a simple memorial to Gandhi and his lifetimes. A shop attached to the palace sells Khadi or cotton, hand loomed garments and textiles. It is also called the Gandhi National Memorial or the Yerwada Ashram. It is located at Talegaon Road, beyond Fitzgerald Bridge.

Museum inside the Palace

The significance of the Aga Khan Palace is that it has marvelous Italian arches and spacious lawns. The building constitutes of five halls. It covers an area of 19 acres, out of which 7 acres are just a built up area. The palace bewitched the eyes of a spectator with its glamour and picturesque architecture. It took 5 years and an estimated budget of Rs. 1.2 million to complete this palace. The area of the ground floor is 1756 sq meters, in which the first floor is 1080 sq meters and the second floor is 445 sq meters. The specialty of this adorable palace is its corridor of 2.5 meters spreads around the entire building. In 1972, Prince Karim Aga Khan of that time donated this palace to Gandhi Smarak Samittee and since then Parks and Gardens organization is maintaining it.

Mahatma Gandhi Statue

Now, the palace mainly houses a memorial to Gandhi where his ashes were kept. The then prime minister India Gandhi had visited the place in 1974 where she allotted a sum of Rs. 200000 every year, for its maintenance. The amount rose to Rs. 2 million till 1990s, after which the national monument of India, was neglected for many years due to improper allocation of funds. There was a grand protest held at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near Pune Railway Station on July 1999 to protest against the deteriorating condition of the monument.

Museum view inside Aga Khan Palace

The archives of the palace contain a number of photos and portraits depicting stories from the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation of India, and other personalities of the Indian freedom struggle. Many activities are organized there at some special occasions. The Gandhi Memorial Society celebrates the following public functions at the palace: –

30th January – Martyr’s Day 
Mahashivratri – Kasturba Gandhi’s Death Day Celebrated As Mother’s Day
15th August – Indian Independence Day
26th January – Republic Day
2nd October – Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary

Other than yearly events, morning prayers terms are held daily at the Samadhi for decades. The prayer attracts a large number of crowds every day, and the number goes up threefold on 2 October as most of the people visit the place to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. So, this monument is worth to see and surely visited by the tourists.

 

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