Fort Sinhagad A day trip to the Lion fort

"You're not wearing sandals are you?"

If the traffic doesn't kill us then the fall might

Nupoor and I started the day giving kisses to Aneeka and packing our backpack with water and camera gear. We had an hour and a half drive ahead of us from Pune to the Sinhagad fort just outside of the city. Milind called Sunil our driver and we all piled into the car knowing that Sunil will be the one navigating the Pune traffic and then later the steep mountain roads that lay ahead.

Pune lies east of Mumbai on the Deccan Plateau at the confluence of the Mulla and Mutha rivers. The Western Ghats form a mountain range to the west where the fort is located.

The drive up the road was filled with pot holes and traffic coming down the mountain. Steep drop offs and hairpin turns meant we drove slow.

We made it as far as we could go by car. Now we had to hike up the ancient steps to the top of the mountain that lies 4,300 feet above sea level.

Donkeys shared the path carting stone to repoint the walls of the fortress.

Fort Sinhagad has a long and storied history. The mountain is thought to have been settled 2,000 years ago based on carvings but wasn't truly fortified until the 1300's and only took its current form in 1600's. It played a very important role for the Marathas in defending against the Mughals with the legend of the Maratha leader Shivaji scaling the cliffs of the fort with the help of a lizard and rope. The Marathas maintained control of the strategically located fort for most of its modern history with a few instances of losing control only to quickly regain it. Then in 1818 the British took control of the fort and turned it into a holiday retreat for British aristocracy living in Pune.

There are only 2 entrances to the hilltop. This entrance has a series of 3 gates that we passed through

A village in the clouds

The top of the fort is less fortress like and more of a collection of huts and buildings within walls that are perched atop a mountain.

Top Left: A view of the village from afar. Top Center: Someone's front door. Top Right: A villagers home made from found materials. Bottom Left: Another home made from stone carved from the mountain side. Bottom Right: Inside a villagers home with a blue painted wall.

There are still some old reminders of the original protection the fortress use to provide but mostly, they have been picked apart and used by the locals.

Top: Old cannon that was used to stop early invaders. Lower Left: Flowers grace the entrance to the top of one of the entrance gates. Lower Right: Fortified turret being renovated.

Income is hard to come by and people live on top of the mountain in the ruins and within makeshift huts. They earn money by feeding tourists and selling trinkets to those who travel or hike to the top.

Home cooked hospitality

The three of us walked around the top of the mountain and around the village. Each home was trying to to cook for you and they all competed for any business they could get. We ended up settling with this woman's home at the edge of the mountain with an amazing view. The dirt floor and lack of walls made me question the hygiene of the food but those worries were unwarranted.

Flour and water was used to create a batter and chopped onions would be dipped and then fried to make pakoras

Dining with a view

Top: Nupoor and I enjoying our food. Lower Left: The home of our chef. Lower Right: Nupoor and her dad eating lunch

We ate outside on a stone raised platform on a reed mat. No napkins, no utensils, just the steel plates and our fingers. Lunch consisted of the freshly made pakoras (battered fried onion), chutney (cut onion, oil, and lots of chili powder), bhakri (jowar flour flat bread), pithal (chick pea flour, onion, green chili, garlic, spices). Cost of lunch for three: 200 rupees ($3 US dollars)

Simple, honest, fresh food, and an amazing 360 view

Panorama looking towards the north.
Looking southwest
Looking down into the valley

Thank you

Created By
Mike Gordon

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