Pratapgad fort is a substantial stone-fort located 15 km kilometers from Poladpur and 22 km west of Mahabaleshwar in sahara district, in the state of Maharashtra, India. This remarkable piece of architecture was built in the year 1656 AD and has been a witness of many major historical battles including famous battle of Pratapgad fought between Shivaji inspired Maratha and Afzal khan in the year 1659 AD. The fort features double line of fortification, impenetrable stone-wall on all sides and an elevation of 1080 meters from the sea level made the fort impregnable for intruders. The castle was constructed on a spur of hill and overlooking the villages of Par and Kinesvar. Due to its historical significance the fort has become prominent tourist destination in Mumbai city.
The fort was commissioned by Maratha King Shivaji and laid down the foundation stone in the year 1656 AD in order to secure the banks of the Nira and the Konya rivers. The construction work of Pratapgad was completed in the year 1658 AD and witnessed first major Battle of Pratapgad in the year 1659 where Shivaji inspired Maratha defeated mighty Afzal khan. The battle was undoubtedly most important test of the fledgling kingdom’s defense and set the stage of the inception of the Maratha Empire. Since then the fort went through several events. In the year 1818, as a part of the third Anglo-Maratha war, the fort was relinquished and Maratha forces suffered a huge loss. Late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled a 17 feet high bronze statue to commemorate Shivaji in the year 1957.
The architectural design of Pratabgad is awe-inspiring and reflects the Maratha’s supremacy on stone work. The fort is divided into lower portion and upper portion. The upper part was built on the cliff of the mountain and given a square shape with 180m long each side. The upper fort includes buildings, a temple dedicated to lord Shiva and surrounded by several hills. The lower fort is equally delicate with a construction height of 320m and spreading over 110 meters. It features with 12 meters strong towers and bastions. The fort is said to have been constructed to prevent Afzal khan. Inside the fort one can find the temple of goddess Bhavani and it is believed to be the temple was built in the year 1661 by Shivaji Raje an ardent devotee of goddess Bhavani. The shrine is made of stone and comprises wooden pillars, several artifacts and images of the goddess. In addition, the roof is given flat shape and a small spire covers the shrine.
The Pratapgad fort is a popular tourist destination in Maharashtra and travelers can visit the place anytime during the day. It is convenient to visit the place during the months October to May as the post monsoon weather leads no sudden cloudburst and ideal for browsing the fort along with its surrounding areas. To climb up the base of the fort one can hire four wheelers available near the Wada village. Some Enthusiastic travelers can pick an alternate trekking road that leads to the base. Otherwise it will take 30 minutes to reach the top of the fort if one decides to go by walk.