Famous as the birth place of Maratha King Chattrapati Shivaji, Shivneri Fort was among the important citadels during Maratha rule. It is located near Junnar town in the Pune district about 95 km north of Pune. The fort attracts a large number of tourists, history buffs and trekkers because of its association with Shivaji, who dreamt of creating a Hindu Swarajya.
Located at an elevation of 2260 ft, the fort resembles the shape of a Shiva-Pind (Divine Phallus). The fort is accessible by two routes – one via stone steps carved out of the rock face which date back to the Satavahana era and the other, a rough extremely hazardous path. The second route has been improved to make it tourist friendly.
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When his wife, Jijabai, was pregnant, Shahajiraje Bhosle moved his family to the safety of the Shivneri Fort. Shivaji was born in the fort on February 19, 1630 near the Shivai temple in the fort. He was named Shivaji after Goddess Shivai, who is believed to have protected the young warrior and his kin during the difficult time.
The fort has seven doors – Maha Darwaza, Parvangicha Darwaza, Hatti Darwaza, Peer Darwaza, Shipai Darwaza, Phatak Darwaza and Kulambkat Darwaza. Strong walls and sheer rock cliffs on three sides ensured Shivneri was well protected. There is a Shivai Temple inside the fort and a huge statue of Shivaji in front of the main entrance to the fort. Within the fort is a huge lake called the Badami Talav. Remnants of quarters and bungalows can be seen near the lake. A two-storey structure stands at the place where Shivaji was born. The top of the building offers magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. Shivneri fort sits in the midst of several forts. To its north stand the forts of Narayangad and Harishchandragad. Hadsar, Chavand Jeevdhan and Bhairavgad are also close by. Five dams – Vadaj, Yedgaon, Pimpalgaon, Manikdoh and Dimbhe – situated around Shivneri are also popular picnic spots.
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Shivneri is popular trekking spot too. Due to the extremely difficult terrain there are guides available from the foothills of the mountain to guide tourists through the trails. The best time to visit the fort is between December and February.
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