Another formidable mountain fort built by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, 24-km from the famous hill-station Mahabaleshwar, is Pratapgad. The fort holds a commanding view of coastal Konkan. One can see the Raigad fort from here. The Bhavani temple and Afzal Khan's tomb are other places of interest.
Pratapgad is 900m above sea level. An hour's drive down by
the Fitzgerald Pass road brings you the pretty travelers bungalow at Vada
or Ambenali, a small hamlet within the limits of Kambhroshi village. A
two-mile long, heavily forested climb leads to the fort gateway.
On passing the gateway, Afzal Buruj (watch tower) lies to the right, while a road to the left leads to the upper fort. Afzal Khan's tomb is situated to the northwest of Afzal Buruj. The entrance of Pratapgad is well protected and very strong; the space between the towers on each side does not exceed 4 ft, the pathway is very steep and rugged and a double doorway forms the actual entrance.
On the east and the south the hills have steep slopes covered with dense forest in contrast with rocky west and the north. The hills gradually descend to the valleys separating Mahabaleshwar and Kineshwar range on the east and the Konkan valley on the west.
Pratapgad consists of two forts. An upper fort built on the crest of the hill and a lower fort immediately below on the south and the east, both overlook the surrounding country and guard the passage to the hills on almost all the sides. The fort walls vary in height according to the nature of the ground. The parapet wall is very slight and the rampart is only 3 ft. broad. The upper fort, built on the crest of the hill is 180m by 180m and contains several permanent residential buildings and a temple of Mahadev, both in good condition.
The lower fort is 290m x 180m broad is on the eastern and southern sides of the hill. The southern side is rocky while the eastern side has a strong outwork ending in the Afzal Buruj. The outwork is set to have been added by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after his encounter with Afzal khan, who met with his death at the hands of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled a bronze statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja on the 30th November 1957. The statue, which is placed on a square edifice is about 10 ft. high, the management of the statue rests with the Pratapgad Shivsmarak Samiti.
The historic Pratapgad Fort was built in 1656, by the
famous minister More Tirmal Pingale on the command of Shivaji Maharaj to
control the rebellious satraps of the surrounding Javali Basin. Legend has
it that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja was blessed with a shining sword at
the temple of Goddess Bhavani here.
History was created at this fort when Chatrapati Shivaji met with Afzal Khan, the Sardar of Bijapur. It was the site of the famous battle between the Maratha chieftain Chhatrapati Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the commander of the Bijapur Sultanate. Afzal Khan was killed and his mighty army routed by the Marathas.
The Bhavani temple was built by Shivaji Maharaj in 1661, because he was unable to visit the famous temple of Bhavani at Tuljapur due to torrential rains. The temple is on the eastern side of the lower fort. It consists of a hall and a shrine. The hall has wooden pillars and the shrine is made of black stone. The roof of the temple is flat inside, outside is a leaden cover put by Maharaja Pratap Singh of Satara, also there is a small spire or 'Shikhar' over the shrine.
Afzal khan's Tomb
The tomb where Afzal Khan's head was buried beneath the tower bears his name, Afzal Buruj. A Dargah of Afzal Khan is constructed away from the fort to the southeast of the Afzal Buruj, where an Urs (fair) is held annually in the month of January or February.
is the nearest airport, 120-km away.
Rail: Satara Road is the closest railway station, but Pune / Mumbai is the normal departure point for Mahabaleshwar.
Road: State transport buses run from Pune and Mumbai. There are also MTDC / private luxury buses, that plies daily in either direction between Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar.
There are several hotels in Mahabaleshwar, but most of them are closed during the monsoon season. The Ripon Hotel, MTDC Holiday Camp, Hotel Saraswati, and Regal Hotel are the famous ones.