The Den of the Deccans Lion.

April 10, 2009

Fort Raigad is much more than a mere tourist spot. It is a sacred place of pilgrimage, which has left an imprint of the grand vision of Hindavi Swarajya as cherished by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Fort Raigad was the capital of the most illustrious Maratha sovereign, nurtured by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is a monument of his prophetic vision of Hindavi Swarajya.

This is a preamble prior to your electrifying excursion around Fort Raigad. It has been described by European historians as ‘The Gibralter of East’. Various landmarks have lent it the credo of ‘Shivtirth’. The holy shrine has become vibrant by the valour, courage and patriotism of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The sheer vertical rock face tearing into the sky above, appears defiant and insurmountable. It has stemmed many a foreign aggression and protected the Hindavi Swarajya during those historic times.

When he first saw the place, Shivaji Maharaj could not help exclaim:
“This Fort is formidable. All sides appear as if chiselled from a mountain of solid rock. Not even a blade of grass grows on the sheer vertical rock. This is a paragon to house the throne”.

At the foothills near village Pachad, is Chit Darwaja, also known as Jit Darwaja. After gruelling foot-slogging, you reach Khoob Ladha Buruj. It is a strategically located turret, from where an aggressor attacking from either flank could be repelled. 

Maha DarwajaNearly a mile ahead, after a difficult climb comes the Maha Darwaja. Built over 350 years ago, this main entrance to the Fort stands majestically. It is as imposing and stout today, as it was then! The design of this Maha Darwaja is an enigma. It defies detection of its location to the attacker. Blind curves enroute make it impossible for the attacker to use elephants to knock it down. In the battle of those historic times, elephants were used to demolish fort entrances.

A steep climb of nearly 1450 steps and three and a half hours of extreme demands on your physical stamina, leaves you too exhausted. Raigad Ropeway has opened a new chapter of sightseeing – the Fort Raigad. It whisks you to the top, through the clouds and whistling winds, in just 4 minutes. Gone is its exhausting inaccessibility. Now you have all the energy and time to enjoy the sightseeing! Well-trained and courteous guides are at hand to give you a conducted tour of the Fort.

Mena DarwajaThe Ropeway lands you at the top of the fort near Mena Darwaja. This was the special entrance for the royal ladies and the queens. To the left of Mena Darwaja is the Rani Vasa or “Queens’ Chambers”. They are six in number and were being used by the mother of Shiv Chhatrapati – Jeeja Mata, Soyarabai, Putalabai and other royal ladies.

Palkhi Darwaja



In front of the Rani Vasa is the Palkhi Darwaja. A special entrance for the convoy of Shivaji Maharaj. On the right side of Mena Darwaja, is the office complex of 8 principal secretaries of Shivaji Maharaj. To the right of Palkhi Darwaja, there is a row of three dark chambers. Historians believe that these were the granaries for the fort.


To the right of the granaries is the palace of Shivaji Maharaj. It is called the Raj Bhavan, where he dispensed justice in petty and routine matters. 

Raj BhavanThe palace rests on a double plinth and had wooden columns to support the palatial structure. The Raj Bhavan is a mute witness to the joys, sorrows, anger, victories and overwhelming generosity of Shiv Chhatrapati. The plinth adjoining Raj Bhavan, holds two large water tanks and by its side, is the location of the Royal Bath. Excellent toilet and drainage system highlights the structural design of that era. To the east of Raj Bhavan is in an open space, there is an underground cellar. It was used for secret dialogues, worshipping Bhavani Mata and for storing war booty after the raid on Surat.


The fort has many huge water reservoirs, one of which is the picturesque Ganga Sagar.

Raj SabhaTwo main entrances from the Royal Palace open in to a sprawling lawn. This is the Raj Sabha. It has witnessed the splendour of the glorious coronation of Shiv Chhatrapati. The shackles of 300 years of slavery were broken and Shivaji Maharaj proclaimed establishment of Hindavi Swarajya! The magnificent throne, studded with diamonds and gold, rested on eight columns of pure gold weighing almost 1000 kilos. It also bears the royal emblem of Shivaji Maharaj. The umbrella over the throne was adorned with strings of precious stones and pearls.

Nagarkhana


Entry for common public to Raj Sabha was through theNagarkhana. In those times, the royal band played here round the clock. It is an excellent example of architecture and miraculous acoustics. The distance between ‘Nagarkhana and the Royal Throne is more than 200 feet, yet even the slightest whisper can be heard from both ends very clearly.



Holi Cha Mal, is outside the Nagarkhana. It is a wide open ground, used for annual Holi festival. There is a temple of Shirkai Bhavani, a presiding deity of the Fort. 


In front of Holi Cha Mal, there is a spacious and well laid-out marketplace. It is built on a high plinth Samadhi of Shiv Chhatrapatiand is separated by a 40-foot wide road leading to the Jagadishwar Temple

Adjacent to this temple, is the most revered place on Fort Raigad, the Samadhi of Shiv Chhatrapati. The Samadhi is intact and well-maintained, even today, due to the personal initiative of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Other places of interest are ammunition depot, Takmak TokBara Tanki i.e. more than a dozen huge water reservoirs, Rameshwar Mandir,Wagh Darwaja

Takmak Tok – an execution place for the proclaimed criminals, etc. These are testimony to the valour, courage and ultimate sacrifice of Maratha soldiers, who made Hindavi Swarajya a reality.

Wish you a happy and fruitful excursion around the fort!

Estimates of Shivaji by Thinkers and Writers

April 10, 2009
A.B. de Braganca Pereira says in "Arquivo Portugues Oriental, Vol
III":

"Wonderous mystic, adventurous and intrepid, fortunate, roving
prince, with lovely and magnetic eyes, pleasing countenance,
winsome and polite,magnanimous to fallen foe like Alexander,
keen and a sharp intellect, quick in decision, ambitious conqueror
like Julius Caesar, given to action, resolute and strict
disciplinarian, expert strategist, far-sighted and constructive
statesman, brilliant organizer, who sagaciously countered his
political rivals and antagonists like the Mughals, Turks of Bijapur,
the Portuguese, the English, the Dutch, and the French. Undaunted
by the mighty Mughals, then the greatest power in Asia, Shivaji
fought the Bijapuris and carved out a grand Empire."



Sir E. Sullivan says in "Warriors and Statesmen of India":

"Shivaji possessed every quality requisite for success in the
disturbed age in which he lived.  Cautious and wily in council, he
was fierce and daring in action; he possessed an endurance that
made him remarkable even amongst his hardy subjests, and an
energy and decision that would in any age have raised him to
distinctions.  By his own people he was painted on a white horse
going at full gallop, tossing grains of rice into his mouth, to signify
that his speed did not allow him to stop to eat.  He was the Hindu
prince who forced the heavy Mughal cavalry to fly before the
charge of the native horse of India.  His strength and activity in
action were glory and admiration of his race."


D. Kincaid says in "The Grand Rebel":

"In spite of the character of a crusade which Ramdas's blessings
gave to Shivaji's long struggle, it is remarkable how little religious
animosity or intolerance Shivaji displayed.  His kindness to
Catholic priests is an agreeable contrast to the proscriptions of the
Hindu priesthood in the Indian and Maratha territories of the
Portuguese.  Even his enemies remarked on his extreme respect for
Mussulman priests, for mosques and for the koran.  The Muslim
historian Khafi Khan, who cannot mention Shivaji in his cronicle
without adding epithets of vulgar abuse, nevertheless
acknowledges that Shivaji never entered a conquered town without
taking measures to safeguard the mosques from damage. 
Whenever a koran came to his possession, he treated it with the
same
respect as if it had been one of the sacred works of his own faith. 
Whenever his men captured Mussulman ladies, they were brought
to Shivaji, who looked after them as if they were his wards till he
could return them to their relations."


Cosme da Guarda says in "Life of the Celebrated Sevaji":

"Such was the good treatment Shivaji accorded to people and such
was the honesty with which he observed the capitulations that none
looked upon him without a feeling of love and confidence.  By his
people he was exceedingly loved.  Both in matters of reward and
punishment he was so impartial that while he lived he made no
exception for any person; no merit was left unrewarded, no offence
went unpunished; and this he did with so much care and attention
that he
specially charged his governors to inform him in writing of the
conduct of his soldiers, mentioning in particular those who had
distinguished themselves, and he would at once order their
promotion, either in rank or in pay, according to their merit.  He
was naturally loved by all men of valor and good conduct."

I. Ramchandra Nilakantha, Shivaji’s Amatya

“The epoch-maker Chhatrapati was at first a Muslim’s dependent but he managed from the age of fifteen to free his small jagir of Poona and based his future greatness on that small beginning, entirely relying on his own effort and initiative. ….. He welded the scattered elements of his people into united body and with their help accomplished his main object.

He established an independent kingdom of his own stretching from Salher and Ahiwant in the West Khandesh to Tanjore on the Kaveri, with unchallenged supremacy, erecting for its defence hundreds of forts and several sea bases with extensive market places.

He created his own regiments of 40 thousand paid troops, in addition to about 70 thousand shilledars or hired troopers and an infantry of some 2 lacs, a treasure which could be counted by crores, choice jewelry and material provision of every indispensable article.

“Thus he elevated his Maratha nation consisting of 96 clans to an unheard of dignity, crowning the whole achievement by occupying an exalted throne and assuming the title of Chhatrapati. He plunged the most powerful Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb into an ocean of grief.

“Indeed this miracle is God’s own work performed through Shivaji’s instrumentality”.

II. Khafi Khan, a contemporary Historian in Muntakhab-ul-Lubab

“Shivaji had always striven to maintain the honour of the people in his territories … and was careful to maintain the honour of women and children of Muhammadans when they fell into his hands. His injunctions on this point were very strict …..”

III. Bhimsen, a contemporary historian in Tarikh-i-Dilkasha

“He was a straightforward man and a matchless soldier and knew the administrative side of the king-ship very well. He enjoyed the full confidence of his soldiers …..”

IV. Dr. Bernier, the French Doctor traveller who was in India from 1658 to 1668

“….. Shivaji is exercising all the powers of an independent sovereign. ….. He distracts the attention of Aurangzeb by his bold and never ceasing enterprises that the Mughal cannot find opportunity of conquering Vizapur. How to put down Shivaji is become his object of chief importance”.

V. Contemporary English merchants of Surat

“Shivaji is the fairest friend, noblest enemy, and the most politique Prince”.

“Shivaji Raja ….. marched into Karnatak and with a success as happy as Caesar’s in Spain, he came, he saw, and conquered. He has taken two very strong forts, being no less dexterous thereat than Alexander the Great and became master of Bijapur. He loved his country but was not partial to any one. He had many Muslims in his service … but he could not tolerate the conversion of his Hindu brethren to either Islam or to Christianity. The underlying reason for his vengeance upon Aurangzeb was the religious policy of that monarch.

Later Estimates of Shivaji

VI. Swami Vivekanand

“Is there a greater hero, a greater saint, a greater bhakta and a greater King than Shivaji? Shivaji was the very embodiment of a born ruler of men as typified in our great epics. He was the type of the real son of India representing the true consciousness of the nation. It was he who showed what the future of India is going to be sooner or later …..”

VII. A.B.de Braganca Pereira (ed.), Arquivo Portugues Oriental, Vol.III

“Wonderous mystic, adventurous and intrepid, fortunate, roving prince, with lovely and magnetic eyes, pleasing countenance, winsome and polite, magnanimous to fallen foe like Alexander, keen and a sharp intellect, quick in decision, ambitious conqueror like Julius Caesar, given to action, resolute and strict disciplinarian, expert strategist, far-sighted and constructive statesman, brilliant organizer who sagaciously countered his political rivals and antagonists like the Mughals, Turks of Bijapur, the Portuguese, the English, the Dutch, and the French, undaunted by the mighty Mughals, the greatest power in Asia, Shivaji fought the Bijapuris and carved out a grand Empire”.

VIII. Sir E. Sullivan, Warriors and Statesmen of India

“He (Shivaji) possessed every quality requisite for success in the disturbed age in which he lived, he possessed … An energy and decision that would in any age have raised him to distinction ….. His strength and activity in action were the glory and admiration of his race”.

IX. D. Kincaid, The Grand Rebel

“In spite of the character of a crusade which Ramdas’s blessings gave to Shivaji’s long struggle, it is remarkable how little religious animosity or intolerance Shivaji displayed. Even his enemies remarked on his extreme respect for Musalman priests, for mosques and for the Koran …..”

X. Cosme da Guarda, Life of the Celebrated Sevagy

“Such was the good treatment he (Shivaji) accorded to the people and such was the honesty with which he observed the capitulations that none looked upon him without a feeling of love and confidence …..”

XI. Sir Richard Temple (Oriental Experience)

“….. Shivaji was not only a bold man, but he had the peculiar power of arousing enthusiasm in others and he raised an abject race from nothingness up to empire. Besides, Shivaji was a great administrator”.

XII. Acworth

“….. No man perhaps then living had a keener and juster appreciation of his own strength and the weak points of his opponents. He alone among his countrymen thoroughly gauged the sources and direction of both ….. The character of Shivaji far transcends that of Aurangzeb. Religion was a dominant feature in both, but in Aurangzeb it was degraded into pettiest, narrowest and most malignant bigotry …”

XIII. J.N. Sarkar

Shivaji’s political ideals were such that we might accept them even today without any change. He aimed at giving his subjects peace, universal toleration, equal opportunities for all castes and creeds, a beneficent, active and pure system of administration, a navy for promoting trade and a trained militia for guarding the homeland ….. “All this national expansion proceeded from the initial energy of one man. Shivaji was the central power-house of the new Maharashtra …..

He was not only the maker of Maratha nation, but also the greatest constructive genius of medieval India. States fall, empires break up, dynasties become extinct, but the memory of a true ‘hero as King’ like Shivaji, remains an imperishable historical legacy for the entire human race”.

XIV. Jawahar Lal Nehru

“Shivaji did not belong to Maharahstra alone; he belonged to the whole Indian nation … (he was) a patriot inspired by a vision and political ideas derived from the teachings of the ancient pilosophers”.

XV. Indira Gandhi

“Shivaji ranks among the greatest men of the world”. Since we were a slave country, our great men (whatever their standing) have been somewhat played down in world history. Had the same person been born in a European country, he would have been praised to the skies and known everywhere. It would have been said that the he had illumined the world”.

Jawaharlal Nehru said: 

"Shivaji did not belong to Maharashtra alone; he belonged to the
whole Indian Nation.  Shivaji was not an ambitious ruler anxious
to establish a kingdom for himself but a patriot inspired by a vision
and political ideas derived from the teachings of the ancient
philosophers."


Indira Gandhi said:

"I think Shivaji ranks among the greatest men of the world.  Since
we were a slave country, our great men have been somewhat
played down in world history.  Had the same person been born in a
European country, he would have been praised to the skies and
known everywhere.  It would
have been said that he had illumined the world."


Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem:

In what far-off country, upon what obscure day
     I know not now,
Seated in the gloom of some Mahratta mountain-wood
     O King Shivaji,
Lighting thy brow, like a lightning flash,
     This thought descended,
"Into one virtuous rule, this divided broken distracted India,
     I shall bind."

online exhibitions

September 19, 2008

online exhibitions

www.aurangzeb.info
www.shivajimaharaj.info
www.naxalism.info
www.kashmiripandits.info
www.bangladeshiminorities.info
www.sikhismexhibition.info
www.ahilyabaiholkar.info
www.sufismexhibition.info