Shivaji's forts

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Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj Forts

Pratapgad Fort

Chhatrapati shahu Maharaj, founder of Maratha empire in western India in 1664, was well known for his forts; he was in possession of around 370 at the time of his death. Many, like Panhala Fort and Rajgad existed before him but others, like Sindhudurg and Pratapgad, were built by him from scratch. Also, the fort of Raigad was built as the place of throne, i.e., the capital, of Maratha Empire by Hirojee Indulkar on the orders of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This is the place where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was crowned and today also his Samadhi stands in front of the Jagadishwar temple. These forts were central to his empire and their remains are among the foremost sources of information about his rule. The French missionary Father Fryer witnessed the fortifications of Gingee, Madras, built by Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj after its conquest, and appreciated his technical know-how and knowledge.

Sindhudurg was built in order to control attacks by Portuguese and Siddhis on the coastal areas of the Maratha Empire. This fort is the witness of chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj's navy which was later led by Kanhoji Angre in times of Chhatrapati Shivaji's grandson Shahu I, and came to glory. Also Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj built the forts of Colaba and Underi to control the activities of the Siddhis in Arabian Sea. At the time of Underi's construction British opposed a lot and stood with their warships in the sea to obstacle the material being supplied for the construction of the fort. But for their surprise the material required for construction was being supplied with the help of small boats in night.

The hill fort Salher in Nashik district was at a distance of 1,200 km (750 mi) from the hill fort Jingi, near Chennai. Over such long distance, hill forts were supported by seaforts. The seafort, Kolaba Fort, near Mumbai, was at a distance of 500 km (310 mi) from the seafort Sindhudurg. All of these forts were put under a havaldar with a strong garrison. Strict discipline was followed. These forts proved useful during Mughal-Maratha wars.

Notable features of Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj's forts include:

  • Design changes with the topography and in harmony of the contour, no monotony of design
  • No ornate palaces or dance floors or gardens
  • No temple complexes
  • Not much difference in the area of higher or lower ranks
  • Marvelous acoustics in the capital
  • Sanskritization of fort names
  • Community participation in the defense of forts
  • Three tier administration of forts
  • System of inspection of forts by higher ups including the king
  • Distinct feature of forts like double line fortification of Pratapgad, citadel of Rajgad
  • Foresight in selection of sites

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