Purandar seen from Narayanpur Road.
|Elevation||4,472 ft (1,363 m)|
|Location||Purandar taluka, Pune District, Maharashtra, India|
Purandar Fort (also called Purandhar Fort) figures repeatedly in the rising of Shivaji against the Adil Shahi Bijapur Sultanate and the Mughals. Purandhar fort stands 4,472 ft. above the sea (1,387 m) in the Western Ghats, 50 km southeast of Pune ahead of Saswad village. There are twin forts - Purandar and Vajragad (or Rudramal). The latter is the smaller of the two and is on the eastern side of the main fort. The village Purandar takes its name from this fort. Purandar fort is also known for birthplace of Sambhaji Raje Bhosale (second Chhatrapti and son of Chhatrapati Shivajiraje Bhosale)
The earliest known mention of Purandar is in the Yadava era (11th century). The 1000yr old Narayaneshwar temple of Hemadpanthi architecture built by the Yadavas still exists in Narayanpur, the base village of Purandar. After the defeat of the Yadavas by Persian invaders, the territory fell in to the hands of these invaders who further fortified Purandar in 1350. During the early rule of the Bijapur and Ahmednagar kings, Purandar was among the forts directly under Government, and never entrusted to Jagirdars (estate-holders). Sometime under the Bedar kings (1347-1490) the fort was besieged several times. To prevent Purandar fort from falling, a man and a woman were buried alive under one of the fort bastions to appease its patron deity. The king of Berar then ordered his minister a Esaji Naik Chive to bury a first born son and his wife into the foundation of the bastion. This was promptly done and after a further offering of gold and bricks. When the bastion was finished Esaji Naik was given possession of the fort and the father of the sacrificed boy was rewarded with two villages.
In 1596, when Bahudar Shah of Ahmednagar sultanate granted Maloji Bhosale(grandfather of Shivaji Bhosale) Pune and Supa, the fort of Purandar was included as well. In 1646, a 19-year-old Shivaji in one of the first victories of his legendary career, established control in the fort. In 1665, it was besieged by the forces of Aurangzeb, under the command of Mirza Raje JaiSingh, a Rajput general, assisted by DilerKhan, an Afghan. The defense of Purandar by Murarbaji Deshpande of Mhar, the killedar (keeper of the fort) was obstinate and he lost his life in the struggle to retain the fort. Raja Shivaji daunted at the prospect of the fall of his grandfathers fort, signed a treaty (the first Treaty of Purandar) with Aurangzeb. Purandar fort along with Vajragad, Sinhgad and 22 other forts came under the Aurangzeb's control and Shivaji Raje became his jahagirdar (glorified tenant). This truce did not last long as Shivaji revolted against Aurangzeb and recaptured Purandar only five years later in 1670. Thereafter, Shivaji spent prolonged periods of time here. Sambhaji raje, Shivaji Maharaj's eldest son and successor was born at Purandar fort.
Under the Peshwas, Purandar was a stronghold to which they retreated whenever Pune, their capital, was under attack. Likely because the fort commands a pass through the Sahyadri mountain range. In 1776, a treaty was signed between the British Raj and the Maratha States (the second Treaty of Purandar). Its conditions were never fulfilled, being overruled by the subsequent Treaty of Salbai in 1782 between the Bombay Government and Raghunathrao, at the close of the First Anglo-Maratha War.
In 1818, Purandar was invested by a British force under General Pritzler. On 14 March, a British garrison marched into Vajragad the smaller fort. As Vajragad commanded Purandar, the commandant had to accept terms and the British flag was hoisted at Purandar on 16 March 1818.
It is also said that Purandar is the broken part of the Dronagiri Parvat which Hanuman was carrying in Ramayana.
During British Raj rule it was used as a prison. During World War II it was an internment camp for enemy-alien (i.e. German) families. Jews from Germany were interned here along with Aryans. A German prisoner Dr. H. Goetz was kept here during World War II. He studied the fort during his stay there and later published a book on it. It major use however was as a sanatorium for British soldiers.
Structures within the fort
The fort has two distinct levels. The lower part of purandar is called the machi. North of the machi is a flat area where the cantonment and hospital was housed. There are many temples dedicated to Purandareshwar (the fort's patron god, from which it also takes its name) and Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa here. There is a statue of Murarbaji Deshpande, the fort-commander (killedar) who gave his life to protect the fort from the Mughals. The northern part of the machi has a low fall with several bastions and an imposing gate with two towers.
From the lower level called machi a staircase leads to the upper level called Ballekilla. The first structure of the Ballekilla that comes into view is the Dilli Darwaza (Delhi Gate). This area also houses an ancient Kedareshwar (Shiva) temple. The higher level called Ballekilla is surrounded by steep drop on three sides.
Shivaji and the Maratha Art of War a book by Murlidhar Balkrishna Deopujari, published by Vidarbha Samshodhan Mandal, in 1973 - India - 276 pages. Says at page 262 "The Koli community made substantial contribution to success of Swarajya movement, Kolis were divided into two sections hill-dwellers and the coastal..........." further at pages 263 "Aurangazeb put down the revolt mercilessly and made a pile of heads cut off. The KOLI CHABUTRA in Purandar fort still stand as a monument to the Kolis' love of Independence and their excitable temper."
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