Visiting Forts and Historical period and reading more about it, especially of Shivaji & Marathi era are my weakness, never ever do i miss a chance to visit such places which act as a tonic and inspiration to me in my otherwise unidimensional life. I have even visited same fort again and again, every time it reveal something new, there it provides something new for exploration.
Yesterday i happened to visit Fort Raigad, it was not an unscheduled trip per se. It was well planned many days ago, we reached the fort early in the morning, having begun our trip at around 1.40 am the earlier night. Not that I was visiting this fort for the first time. But still somehow the enthusiasm was there.
Visiting such places however leave a tinge of pain, to see the disgustful state in which these historical monuments are in now. Raigad, which once upon a time was the capital of Hindavi Swaraj today is no exception, its in shambles, the authorities maintaining the fort are equally responsible, so also are the visitors who show disrespect to these monuments. Unmindful of the historical import of these places, they do nothing else but cheap theatrics. They leave behind the waste in form of empty water bottles, plastic and paper waste.
The fort is huge, it is tough to even climb, leave alone to capture. Whenever i think of Shivaji Maharaj and his great deeds, i forget not the deeds and dedication and selfless service rendered by the people around this great warrior. The sacrifice of these people, sometimes were acknowledged while sometimes it just blurred away in oblivion. Not a second thought these people gave to their loved ones, their near and dear ones and plunged into the fight for Swarajya, some even making ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
Whenever you visit a huge fort like Raigad, you always wonder about the architecturial magnificence of such structure. Simple questions crop up my mind, how come was a fort built at 869 metres height, how was stones and equipments carried out at such heights, how was the entire logistics maintained, who did it all. Atleast for Raigad we know, it was a superb engineer who would pygmy contemporary engineers, he was Hiroji Indulkar. What a structure Raigad would have been then, its remnants are so entralling, i always wonder and visualize how the fort would have looked when it was in its full glory. There were palaces for Maharaj, for the Queens, for the Ministers for foot soldiers. All built with great care and precision. Some of the observations that made me awe are as follows :
The Mahadwar or the first entrance itself is an engineering wonder. The Entrance is built in a circular fashion, so that it will not be visible from any angle. This helped to protect the fort from Canon Fire by enemies.
The way leading to the fort is also very carefully designed. It has steep valley on the left hand side, while rocks on the right hand side. Supposing an enemy attacks, he would have found it very difficult to attack as his sword would have always hit the rock, on the other hand, the Marathas had no hindrance as they would have valley facing their right side and would have got full swivel of their sword.
The final steps leading to the Mahadwar are very high and one has to put on great deal of efforts to climb and there are aound 100 such steps. The object of it was simple, if an enemy somehow reaches till there he would get exhausted if he tries to cross these steps by running, if he sort of walked, then he would have been sitting duck target for the Marathas to hit.
The Mahadwar too is built with an idea to protect the fort, it is very far away from the actual fort, there are curves and steps one has to climb, if anyone dared to reach till there he would have been targeted with stones and arrows and guns and other weapons.
The entire fort is built on rock crater, the mountain is made up of rocks and has very little mud, this made the fort rock solid.
The main palace of the fort has a bathroom where arrangements for hot water bath was made. A sort of indigenous geyser could be seen.
The Darbar where Shivaji Maharaj used to sit for attending daily court is a magnificent structure built with all kind of finesse. Some kind of sound technology was used, it is demonstrated even today by guides, a small gossip made at around 100 metres away is audible at the other end of the Darbar. This was achieved by using echo technique and building of hollow walls, where the sound would reverberate.
The Bajarpeth, the main market area is a place for current planners to visit. The arrangements made their are such that a soldier need not have to alight from his horse, the height of the platform of the market was such that the soldier could buy his wares sitting on the horse itself. The steps leading to the platform are built inwardly, so that it would not create hindrance to the horse. What a solid thinking after all.
All this was built by Hiroji Indulkar and his team of people. Great man after all he was, when Shivaji Maharaj ordered him to built the fort, his only concern was to built it, didnt he face any difficulties? yes, he did.. but he did not look back. When the fort was under construction, Maharaj was at Agra and was in Aurangazeb’s confinement, Hiroji had ran out of funds, but he was not out of motivation, Hiroji did not think twice, he mortgaged his house, sold his belongings and ensured the fort was complete. When Maharaj returned and he saw this wonderful fort and the dedication of Hiroji, Maharaj was nothing but impressed, he asked Hiroji what he wanted, Hiroji could have asked for Heavens, and Maharaj would surely had delivered. But for this selfless servant, he asked Maharaj to gift him a small tile with carving of Hiroji’s me on it. Only accompanied with a condition, that the tile be placed at the entrance of Jagadeeshwar Temple, so that whenever Maharaj visited this temple, his foot would touch Hiroji’s name… and Maharaj visited this temple daily. The stone mentioning the words “Sevechya thayi tatpar, Hiroji Indulkar” can be seen at Jagadeeshwar Temple even today.
Do you have a word to explain this height of dedication and self less service?
I guess the dream of Maharaj to build a swaraj of his own would never have completed had he not got people like Baji Prabhu, people like Tanaji, and people like Hiroji Indulkar.
Alas, if our country had leaders and their followers, with atleast one fourth of vision and dedication of Maharaj and Hiroji, our country would have been a better place to live…