|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Lonavala|
Rajmachi Fort is one of the many historical forts in the rugged hills of Sahydri mountain. Rajmachi Fort (Killa) consists of two twin fortresses Shriwardhan Ballekilla and Manaranjan Balekilla, with a wide Machi (plateau) surrounding the two Balekillas. Udhewadi is a small village of about 22 houses stuated on the Machi (plateau), at the southern foot of Manaranjan Balekilla of Rajmachi Fort.
Rajmachi Fort is a popular destination for nature lovers, trekkers and for outdoor campers. In rainy season from mid-June to mid-October, this region is all the more beautiful with clouds, silvery water falls, streams, lush green forests and meadows. Local families at Udhewadi on Fort Rajmachi welcome trekkers and nature lovers. The local families provide food and camping accommodation to the tourists. The tourism has enabled the local community to give up traditional occupations like agriculture and cattle rearing.
Historically, Rajmachi fort was a strategic fort to control Borghat (the Ghat between Khopoli and Khandala on Mumbai-Pune route) which was a historical trade route. It was in the possesion of Angre family, the head of Maratha navy in the 18th century. Rajmachi Fort (Killa) consists of two twin fortresses Shriwardhan Ballekilla and Manaranjan Balekilla, with a wide Machi (plateau) surrounding the two Balekillas. There are historical water reservoirs and ruins of fortifications, ramparts, gateways on both the Ballekillas. A view from top of the Forts, of the surrounding hills and vallies is quite mesmorizing. A Shiv Mandir built in Hemdapanti style of arcitecture, aproximately in the 8th century AD, on the west end of a big historical water reservoir is worth visiting. The water reservoir was constructed during the year 1780 AD, by Ramrao Narayanrao Desmukh, Mamalatdar of Danda Rajpuri.
Rajmachi Fort can be reached by 2 approach routes from Karjat Taluka of Raygad District, one from the right bank of Ulhas river (from villages Kondivde, Kondhane or Mundhyachi Thakurwadi) and the second one from Salpe village. Both the routes involve steep climb up on foot. It is not possible to drive a vehicle on these two routes. The first route (from villages Kondivde, Kondhane or Mundhyachi Thakurwadi) reaches Rajmachi at Jambhul Met on the west side of Manaranjan Balekilla. The other route from Salpe village reaches Rajmachi at Hijadkhana, on the north west of Manaranjan Balekilla. Both these routes from Karjat Taluka of Raygad District involve steep climb up on foot, of about 500 metres.
The other routes to Rajmachi are from Lonavla or Khandala in Mawal Taluka of Pune District. Lonavala to Rajmachi distance is 15 km and it is almost a plain walk, though there are a few ups and downs on this path. This route passes through Tungarli (an area in Lonavla town), Tungarli Dam, Pangoli Thakurwadi, Patel Dam, Phanasarai and Jambhali phata. It takes about three and a half hour to cover the distance on foot. The route from Khandala passes though Summer Hill, Kune village, Della Adventure Resort, Patel Dam, Phanasarai and Jambhali phata. The section of this route from Khandala to Della Adventure Resort is a good road fit for ordinary passenger cars. The further section of this route is a very rough track and therefore not fit for ordinary passenger cars. A sturdy utility vehicle can, however, be taken right up to Rajmachi, on this route. Dduring the rainy season from June to mid-October a 4-wheeler cannot be taken right up to Udhewadi (Rajmachi). A sturdy utility vehicle can be taken only up to Jambhali phata, on this route.
Rajmachi is also unique in the way that an NGO, Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Program has done commendable work in Udhewadi village on the plateau of Fort Rajmachi.
Many poor communities have been living in the vicinity of various historical forts in the Sahydri mountain. Their ancestors in the 17th century were organized by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj into a strong fighting force for guerilla warfare. These brave warriors liberated Western Maharshtra from clutches of tyrannical alien rulers and established independent Marathi kingdom. They recaptured many historical forts and built a few new forts. They held the forts till the advent of the British rule in the early 19th century.
Despite this glorious historical past, these communities have been living a neglected backward life, in the hills of Sahyadri. Their economic condition is poor. They do not have dependable health care service nor do they have schools for education of their children.
A group of friends interested in trekking in the Sahyadri hills noticed the poor conditions of people in the hills and felt the need to extend a helping hand to them. The Group also felt that historical monuments on forts in the Sahyadri should be preserved.
With these objectives in mind the Group initiated voluntary development work at Fort Rajmachi, in the year 1976 and established A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) – an NGO is also known as not-for-profit organization - Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Programme.
Growing nagli (a coarse millet) in the rainy season and rearing cattle were the traditional sources of livelihood for the community at Udhewadi. Now, most of the families earn income through Tourism, i.e., providing food and shelter to Trekkers and Tourists. A few local youths work as assistants in outdoor adventure activities camps organized by outside professionals.
Initially, the NGO worked for development of Udhewadi for about 20 years. Most of the water reservoirs on the Fort were cleaned and safe drinking water was made available to the local community, through a pipe line. Free of cost medical service was provided to the local community. Doctors associated with the NGO visited Udhewadi at weekly intervals. Patients requiring special treatment were brought to city hospitals. A primary school was built at Udhewadi (Rajmachi) and children were also helped for further education in other villages or cities. The NGO helped the community to obtain benefits under Government’s poverty alleviation programmes for rural poor and arranged training in carpentry for a couple of young men. The NGO created wage employment opportunities in various activities like tree plantation, clearing of historical monuments and water reservoirs, etc.
The NGO encouraged the local community of Udhewadi to provide catering and camping facilities to tourists.
The NGO made sincere efforts to wean the people away from addiction to alcohol. It also tried to remove various harmful superstitions prevalent in the community.
The continuous voluntary work done since the year 1976 brought about perceptible results and changed the appearance of Udhewadi. Adequate clean drinking water is available and health conditions have improved. Dwelling houses have improved. With availability of supplementary incomes their economic conditions have also improved.
Taking into consideration the results achieved in Udhewadi Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Programme changed the focus of its activities. The NGO is now concentrating on development of a botanical park on a plot of land adjacent to Udhewadi on Rajmachi Fort. The NGO is also making efforts to improve facilities available for tourists and to develop Rajmachi as a center for eco tourism and adventure tourism.
The NGO has developed a Camping Site, # RAJMACHI CAMPING - GO.NEE.DA. WADI (WHATSAPP 90117 68348), on the plot of land, for providing camping and catering facilities to groups of trekkers and tourists.
The Camping Site GO.NEE.DA. WADI is also suitable for holding Outdoor Management Programmes and training programmes in various nature related out door activities like rock climbing, bird watching, karate, yoga, etc. (
Availability of water on the Camping Site is limited at present. Udhewadi Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Programme is buinding water storage tanks to harvest rain water to meet growing need for water.
In the recent times the families at Udhewadi have built better dwelling houses with sanitation facilities.
The local communiy at Udhewadi use solar energy only for lighting purpose. Conventional electricity has not reached this remote place so far.
Rajmachi Fort has been declared as a protected monument.
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has started work to develop Rajmachi for tourism.
- Naravane, M.S. (2014). Battles of the Honorourable East India Company. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. p. 60. ISBN 9788131300343.
- "List of the protected monuments of Mumbai Circle district-wise" (PDF).