Forts in Central India

Purandar Fort

Purandar fort (also called Purandhar fort) figures repeatedly in the rising of Shivaji against the Bijapur kingdom and the Mughals. Purandhar fort stands 4,472 ft. above the sea (1,387 m) in the Western Ghats, 20 miles southeast of Pune. It actually consists of two 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.Purandhar fort has a National Cadet Corps Academy. It is a favorite destination for paragliders and trekkers


The earliest known mention of Purandhar is in the reign of the first Bahmani king, Hasan Gangu. When he obtained possession of Maharashtra,he fortified Purandhar in 1350. During the early rule of the Bijapur and Ahmednagar kings, Purandhar was among the forts directly under Government, and never entrusted to jagirdars (estate-holders).[2] 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.In 1596, when Bahudar Shah of Ahmednagar sultanate granted Maloji Bhosale(grandfather of Shivaji) Poona and Supa, the fort of Purandhar was included as well. In 1646, a 16-year-old Shivaji in one of the first victories of his legandary career, established control in the fort. In 1665, it was besieged by the forces of Aurangzeb, under the command of Raja Jai Singh, a Rajput general, assisted by Diler Khan, 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. 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 became his jagirdar (glorified tenant). This truce did not last long as Shivaji revolted against Aurangzeb and recaptured Purandhar only five years later in 1670. Thereafter, Shivaji spent prolonged periods of time here. Sambhaji, Shivaji's eldest son and successor was born at Purandar fort.Under the Peshwas, Purandhar 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 Government 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, Purandhar was invested by a British force under General Pritzler. On the 14th of March, a British garrison marched into Vajragad the smaller fort. As Vajarad commanded Purandhar, the commandant had to accept terms and the British flag was hoisted at Purandhar on the 16th March, 1818.During British rule it was used as a prison. 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.


The fort has two distinct levels. The lower part is called the machi. North of the machi is a flat area where the cantonment and hospital was housed. There are many temples decicated to Purandeshwar(the fort's patron god, from which it also takes its name) and Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa here. There is a statue of Murarbaji Deshapnde, the fort-keeper (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 a staircase leads to the upper level or Ballekilla. The first structure of the Ballekilla that comes into view is the Dilli Darwaza. This area also houses an ancient Kedareshwar(Shiva) temple. The higher level called Ballekilla is surrounded by steep drop on three sides.

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