India is rich in its heritage and history with a diverse culture unique to every state. It boasts of many glorious palaces and forts built by dauntless men, many of whom gave up their lives to protect the people and their integrity. India proudly vaunts grand palaces and forts. Many of these forts are located in Maharashtra. A Day trip to Jadhavgadh Fort is one such trip that will take you down the culture, history and grandiose of the Maratha rule.
The state of Maharashtra itself has around 350 forts, most of them are associated with the Maratha regime. Many forts are associated to the great Maratha ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. When you visit these forts you get a peek into the lifestyle of the yesteryears maharajas and their families, their heroism and valor, their customs and routine and not to forget – their food habits.
It is located in a village called Jadhavwadi which has a population of around 2500. It takes around an hour to reach Jadhavgadh Fort by car from Pune. But if you are traveling from Mumbai, it should take you 4 to 5 hours. You have to take the Hadapsar- Saswad road to reach the destination. In Hadapsar, we take the Sant Gnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj flyover that takes you to the Hadapsar- Saswad road.
We find traffic for a greater part of the hour, It only reduces around 20 minutes prior to reaching the fort.
Sights en route
As we leave the main town of Pune we came across many Dhabas– small eateries where you find local food, in this case, the Maharashtrian food. Misal Pav and Vada Pav are the most popular snack foods available all throughout Maharashtra and you will find the same en route to Jadhavgadh.
On our way, we crossed the Dive ghat which has its own charm altogether. We parked our car and devoured the beautiful sight that awaited us from the ghat munching on a delicious corn cob. Here is where you get to view the Mastani Lake, you will know about it in the later half of the blog. There was a small tapri or a small snack stall which sells corn cobs grilled over coal and tea. This is what makes road trips so special- the journey is as fun as the destination.
We came across many fruit and vegetable farms on the way; We got a chance to enter a custard apple and a chilli farm. Depending on the season of visit you will come across flower farms – we came across expansive farms growing Marigold flowers. These are abundantly used in India for prayers and worship and now being the festive season of Ganeshotsav, the flower markets are brimming with Marigold.
The fort has a 300-year-old history and a rich heritage. The fort was built by Pilaji Jadhavrao, the Maratha general of Chhatrapati Shahuji. It once housed 6000 soldiers who were trained well to fight against any attack and safeguard the city of Pune. The beauty of the fort lies in its simplicity- it did not boast much ornamentation or decoration but was capable enough to handle the most brutal invasions. It was built with stones – the tall walls and short doorways, everything there was built keeping in mind that an intrusion can happen anytime.
It was developed recently and turned into a heritage hotel by Dr. Vishal Kamath owing to whom we can now live and experience the royal life of the noble Marathas.
Before we entered the fort we bought tickets for the fort tour. You can select the package you want- the whole day package with food included or the one we took: the fort tour package with food on a la carte basis.
As we entered the fort, we were welcomed by the sound of beating drums and the traditional Maharashtrian instrument called Tutari along with traditional welcome of kumkum on our forehead applied by a traditionally clad lady. A welcome drink is offered which is much appreciated after a long road journey.
We decided to take our lunch before we embarked on our tour. We chose the Chajja restaurant. It serves a variety of cuisines i.e Indian, continental and Chinese, along with pasta. Jadhavgadh receives many tourists from all over the world and thus the cuisine is global. We went for a traditional dish- eggplant with gravy along with roti- it was simply delicious. I realized that the food was not as spicy as it usually is- a blessing to me.
Another place to feast is the Payatha restaurant, which serves buffet, breakfast, lunch, hi-tea, and dinner. Those interested in trying a variety of dishes and exploring more of the local food culture should definitely go for this restaurant. They have live counters where they serve ‘chaat’ (Indian snacks: Pani Puri, Bhelpuri, pakoras) too.
Our heritage walking tour of the fort initiated at the reception, where we found the fort photographs. The pictures give one a glimpse of the place before it was converted into a heritage resort. Moving ahead we come across something unique- ‘the Elephant’s dinner plate’. It was here I realized that the main doorway was broad enough for the elephants to pass through.
Elephants were a regular sight in fights and wars all across India. Maharashtra was no different. The wealth of any empire was deduced from the number of elephants the ruler bred. The more the elephants, the wealthier the empire. The Elephant’s Dinner Plate was large enough to accommodate an elephant’s food(mostly jaggery).
Next, we climb up some stairs and reach the jharokha (balcony). This was the observatory place for the generals and the soldiers for keeping watch of the enemy. The fort has tall walls which are tapered on top to make it difficult for the intruders to make a smooth landing on the jharokha. Now, you can peacefully seat yourself and delight in the pleasing view of vast greenery of village Jadhavwadi.
From there we advanced towards the dungeons where the prisoners were kept. There is no light and no windows in these dungeons. Without our phone’s flashlight, it would be pitch black. I confide we were there just for a few minutes
We saunter towards the beautiful kund of the fort, a place designed for water harvesting. This area had to face a lot of droughts. The kund is where water was accumulated for later use. The fort had four tanks and a special lake known as the Mastani lake built for the water storage. The fort has a tunnel which was connected straight to Mastani lake, the one we saw from the Dive Ghat.
Now the Kund has been converted into a swimming pool and thus the guests can take a leisurely dip.
The two trees right in the middle of the pool are applewood tree and neem tree. Both of these trees have high medicinal values.
The fort has a huge garden which inhabits various species of birds and you will come across a great variety of trees and flowers. The fort resort has a facility to recycle the water consumed in the resort and use it to water the garden.
The garden area has a beautiful temple of Lord Ganesha made of sandstone.
Our last stop before we headed for the museum was the quarry filled with water and fishes. This place has a bench facing the quarry- an excellent place to refresh and relax after the long stride in the fort. We found sheep grazing on the hill behind the quarry. We could start a trek on the mountain from here but we preferred just sitting in solitude and listening to the birds. Living an urban life, this is something we simply seem to miss out on.
Our final visit was the Museum named as ‘Aai’, it means mother. The entire museum has artifacts that took years to collect. It is a visual treat to see the everyday household items, beautification articles used by yesteryears women, weapons, passenger as well as goods carriages.
My personal favourite is the room with different types of locks, what an amazing collection!
There are 58 rooms available for stay out of which 3 are suites; the Maharaja Suite, the Maharani suite and the Museum Suite, On the top level are the premium hill view rooms, then there are 12 royal tents, 4 neem cottages and 39 rooms of various types. All the rooms are equipped with contemporary luxuries while the whole ambiance is ancient.
To indulge in the real royal sense, the 3 royal suites are the way to go.
There are many activities to indulge in if you are there for a stay. There is pottery making, volleyball, football, badminton, cricket, bullock cart ride, and trekking.
There are many events organized to keep you busy throughout the day and the same is put up in an activity schedule every day. When I visited I came across games organized to play by the resort which is long forgotten by today’s generation being; Gilli danda/ marble/ lagori.
Jadhavgadh fort is an extremely good amalgamation of luxury and heritage. We went for a day trip and there was not a moment of boredom. If you are a person who loves visiting the era gone by and be surrounded with the comfort and luxuries of today’s life, this is the place to be. It is becoming very popular recently owing to its proximity to Pune and Mumbai.
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