Lohagad is one of the strongest and most famous of Deccan forts and is probably a settlement of very great age.
Its position, commanding the high road to the Bor pass, must have always made it important,
1489 In modern times it is mentioned as one of the Bahmani forts taken by Malik Ahmad when (1489) he established himself as an independent ruler.
1564 Burhan Nizam Shah II. afterwards the seventh Ahmadnagar king (1590-1594) was confined here during his brother’s reign.
On the fall of the Ahmadnagar’ dynasty in 1637, Lohagad passed to the Bijapur kings,
1648 wrested from them by Shivaji.
1665, after the successes of Jaising and Dilawar Khan, Shivaji was forced to cede Lohagad to Aurangzeb.
1670 in the successful operations that followed Tanaji Malusre’s capture of Sinhgad, Lohagad was surprised by the Marathas, and afterwards made a sub-divisional head-quarters and treasury.
1704 Lohagad was taken by the Marathas,
1713 it was taken by Angria,
1720 it was given to Balaji Vishvanath.
About 1770 the fort was taken in the interests of Nana Fadnavis by a Koli named Javji Bomble.
This man who was a famous outlaw had some capital rocket-men and advancing one of them to a favourable position pointed out to him the direction he was to fire.
One of the rockets fell among some powder close to the door of the magazine and caused such an explosion that the garrison were forced to surrender.
Towards the close of the eighteenth century Nana Fadnavis, when prime minister to Bajirao II.
(1796- 1800), placed Dhondopant, a dependant of his own, in command of Lohagad and sent all his treasure to the fort.
After Nana’s death (1800) his widow (12th November 1802) took refuge in Lohagad, and Dhondopant refused to hand over the fort to the Peshwa unless Nana’s adherents received certain offices.
Dhondopant remained in command till 1803 when the Peshwa, under General Wellesley’s mediation, agreed to allow Dhondo to keep the fort on promise of acting as a faithful subject.
Shortly after, from a fort near the Krishna, a garrison of Dhondopant’s fired on the Peshwa and would not allow him to pass to a temple. In punishment for this outrage General Wellesley threatened to storm Lohagad; and on promise of personal safety and of a yearly grant of £120
(Rs. 1200) to Nana’s widow whom General Wellesley described as ‘ very fair and very handsome Well deserving to be the object of a treaty,
Dhondopant retired to Thana and the widow to Panvel.
When the fort surrendered to the British it held a prodigious quantity of ammunition of all kinds.
It was at once restored to the Peshwa and in 1803 (October) when visited by Lord Valentia, was strongly garrisoned, but poorly supplied with stores.
Dhondopant’s garrison varied according to circumstances from one to three thousand men.
Some months after the outbreak of the final war with the Peshwa (4th March 1818) a strong force under Colonel Prother was sent against
Lohagad. On the capture of Visapur the garrison left Lohagad and on the next day it was taken without resistance.
Till as late as 1845 the fort was garrisoned by a commandant and a few troops.
The guard was afterwards removed but, probably because the fort could at any time be commanded from Visapur, the four gateways and other fortifications were left unharmed.
1862, it was reported as a strong fort, the walls and gates in slight disrepair, with a sufficient supply of water, and able to hold about 500 men.
About four miles south of the Karle cave hills and eight miles south-east of Khandala, in the range that forms the southern limit of the Indrayani valley, stand two fortified hills. lohagad to the west short and comb-backed, and Visapur long and level to the east. From the village of Bhaja, about a mile south of the Karle railway station, a path leads up the face of a slightly wooded spur to the plateau from which rise the sheer cliffs of lohagad on the right, and the tamer sides of Visapur on the left. From the top of the pass, between two hills, the track divides, one branch running west below the cliffs of lohagad, the other east below the slopes of Visapur. This is the simplest path up either of the hills and is open all through the fair season. During the hot months (March-May) the pleasantest way of seeing lohagad and Visapur from Khandala or Lonavla, is to start from the western village of Avadholi, climb lohagad from the south, and passing to Visapur, scramble up the steep rugged gorge in its south face, and, crossing the hill, return by the north ravine along a smooth part-tilled plateau and down the steep hill-side that overhangs the village of Bhaja. From Lonavla, keeping to the right under the southern range of hills, a rough cross country road follows the line of the first English highway between Poona and the Bor pass, [Though rough and in places entirely destroyed this road can still be clerly traced. It is locally known as the Peshwa’s road, and may be on the line of a Maratha highway, but the remains of pavement and metalling seem English.] about four and a half miles south-east to Avadholi. The closer view of lohagad shows a long rocky point, known as the Scorpion’s Sting or Vichu-kanta, running north-west from the main body of the upper hill, and ending, over the Avadholi valley, in a bare black fortified crag. From Avadholi the path leads up a steep well wooded pass to a rolling plateau with scattered trees and patches of tillage from which, on the left, rises the black cliff of lohagad fort. At first under the Scorpion’s Sting, a cliff about 300 feet high, and then, under the bare scarp of the main hill whose walled crest, connected with the Scorpion’s Sting by an arched gateway, rises about 150 feet higher, the path leads through about two miles of open woodland and hill tillage to the shady village of Lohvadi. To the left of Lohvadi are the sites of some large buildings, the dwellings of the local deshmukhs who had formerly large mansions and a well and garden. A filled up well may still be seen, in which according to the local story at a wedding the child bride and bridegroom fell were drowned and the place was deserted.
The Way Up,
Behind Lohvadi a path leads to the sole entrance to the fort, where, from among the trees, up the face of a steep spur, winds a flight of steps, partly built partly rock-cut, guarded by four arched gateways, each flanked by double bastions rising one above the other, the highest standing clear against the sky. [According to Lord Valentia (1803) the gateways take away from the strength of the place by offering a lodgment for a storming party. Travels, II. 171.] On the right, before reaching the lowest gateway, at the foot of a high rugged scarp, is a row of three caves, their mouths, except narrow doorways, closed by modern masonry walls. The first cave, known as the Salt Store, and measuring nineteen feet long by twenty-two broad and six and a half high, is plain without pillars or writing. Along the east wall are two stone benches each about six feet long by three broad and two high. Between the stone benches a door, cut in the rock, leads into a second cave, also plain and without pillars, about twenty-six feet by twenty and seven high and divided into two compartments by a modern stone and mortar wall. Adoor in the back wall of this cave opens on a second smaller chamber. A few yards further along the hill side is a third cave, with a masonry wall built nearly across the entrance and the inside partly filled with water. Beyond it is a large rock-cut water cistern about forty feet square and eighteen deep, the roof supported on two rough rock-cut pillars. In the bare face of the cliff, about thirty feet above this line of caves, reached by a broken flight of rock-cut steps, are two unfinished ceils, the lower five feet and a half by five and the upper six by five and four high. A hole leads through the floor of the upper into the lower cave, and, when finished, the two would probably have formed one chamber. Their position outside of the defences, and the contrast between the modern masonry entrance and partition walls and the rest of the work of the lower caves, and the rough stone steps and openings into the upper caves, bear out the people’s belief that these caves were not granaries but Buddhist monk-dwellings or, as they say, Pandav-hewn houses. Their simplicity and rudeness, and their close resemblance to some of the older Junnar caves point to an early date. A little above this line of caves rises, on the left, the western bastion of the first or Ganesh Gate. This was the first of the additions made by Nana Fadnavis about 1789. There is still a generally believed, and apparently true, story that the building had to be stopped because the foundation of the bastion would not hold. At last Nana was warned in a dream that the defences could never be completed until the favour of the god of the hill was won by burying alive a man and a woman. After much difficulty a Maratha of the Sabale clan agreed to offer his eldest son and his son’s wife. A hole was dug and the two were buried alive and over them the foundations of the bastion were again laid and have ever since stood firm. In reward for this sacrifice the headship of the village of Lohvadi was taken from a Ghadshi family and given to the Sabale whose fourth in descent is the present police patil.
According to the local story, of the four gateways, the Ganesh, Narayan, Hanumant, and Maha, the first second and fourth were built in the time of Nana Fadnavis and the third or Hanumant is older and was built by the Musalmans. The gateways of all are arched in Musalman style and strengthened by masonry bastions, the windings of the steps and the heights of the gateways being so planned that the approach is commanded by all the bastions. The gates are of teak strengthened with iron, the lowest or Ganesh gate being armed against elephants by long iron spikes. Here and there in the bastions of the Ganesh and other gates are a few small dismounted guns. [On one of the guns are out the letters and figures T. P. D. 4-1-17 and on another in Balbodh the words Ali Madat and the figures 3-3-12,] Inside of the Ganesh Gate on the right hand, about the level of the roof of the gateway, is a broken image of Ganpati. A little further, about halfway to the Narayan gate, in a niche on the right, is a small broken image of Gauri, Ganpati’s mother, seated with crossed feet and upturned soles, her hands resting on her knees, four bracelets on each wrist, a bodice and a tiara or mukut on her head. To the right, about halfway between the Narayan and Hanumant gates, are two caves, the nearer fourteen feet by sixteen and nine high, used by the Marathas as a nachni store, and the further, about twenty-nine by thirty feet and twelve high, used as a rice store. They are plain, without pillars ornament or writing, and, except narrow doors, have their mouths closed by masonry. Their depth, three or four feet below the entrance, and the roughness of the tool-marks, support the local belief that they are the work of men, not of the Pandavs, and were cut by the Marathas as granaries. A few steps further, before passing through the Maruti or Hanumant gateway, a rough broken image of Maruti is cut in the cliff on the right. Just above this image is the Maruti or Hanumant gateway, the original gate of the fort, which, according to the local story, was built by Alamgir or Aurangzeb, but is probably at least as old as the Ahmadnagar kings (1489-1636). A few steps above the Maruti gate the staircase is spanned by an arch or kaman fitted with holes for bolts and bars. A little further the staircase turns sharp to the right in front of the Maha or Great gateway, a plain wooden door set in a Musalman arch, with some slight tracery above and a small image of Maruti on either side. Within the gateway is a ruined court and guard-room with one arch standing.
Facing the Maha gate, on a stone plinth about five feet high, stands a stone mausoleum, a square tower capped, as it seems from the out side, by a rough clumsy dome. This building, which is about fifteen feet square inside, has two slightly ornamented one tombs on the floor, and rises in a plain well-proportioned dome bout twenty-five feet high. It has no inscription. According to the local story it is a cenotaph in honour of Aurangzeb and one of his wives. Close to the mausoleum are the ruins of the small court-house or dhakti sadar, and in front, between the tomb and the clif edge, are the remains of the armoury or lohar-khana. Behind the dome, the hill rises into a bare knoll about 100 feet bigh, and to the right, under a cliff about thirty feet high, are the well-built plinths of four courtyards or chauks said to be the remains of the chief Government offices or mothi sadar. In the rocky brow behind are a set of four caves. The cave most to the south and west has its mouth, all but a hole about two feet square, choked with earth and fallen rocks. To the north-east, behind the ruins of the chief court-house, is a cistern about twelve feet deep cut into the face of the hill, the inner part supported by a roughly hewn rock pillar. A few steps to the right, with a porch about fifteen feet by eight, is the second cave partly filled with a mud and water, the entrance blocked by rocks and earth, and with a modern wall and door built across it. Inside, a modern stone and mortar wall divides the cave, leaving, to the left, a compartment about thirty feet by twenty. From this, a few yards to the east, two rock-cut doorways lead into two small chambers, one to the left the other facing the entrance doorway. The cave is plain throughout without pillars or ornament. A few yards further, opening from a small terrace strewn with stones and under an overhanging rock, is a third cave with a recess on the right and two small chambers on the left. This cave, which is known as the treasury, Khajandarki kothi or Jamdarkhana, measures about sixty feet long by forty-five broad and about eight high. It is plain without pillars or ornament and has, along the east wall, a stone bench about three feet high, five feet broad, and twenty-seven feet long.
Slight brick partitions divide the cave into compartments about fifteen feet square, and up the middle a row of treasure-coffers, about three feet square, have been sunk in the floor. A few yards further, under an overhanging rock, about six feet deep, is a fourth cave known as the Lakshmi Kothi. The original entrance seems to have been a central doorway with rock-posts and two side windows or openings, each about three feet high and eight long, cut halfway down to the floor of the cave. But, except a doorway measuring five feet by three, the front has been closed by a modern stone wall. Inside of the door is a rock-cut hall, fifty feet by thirty and seven high, with rock-cut side benches, but without pillars ornament or figures. Part of the hall, cut off by a brick partition, has been used as a store-room; sad in the roof, between the outer and inner doorways, a loop has been cut from which to hang the scales used in weighing grain and stores. In the back wall of this hall are four rough-hewn rock pillars, each about three feet square, placed so as to form a central doorway and two windows on either side, each window about eight feet long and four high, corresponding to the windows in the outer wall. A flight of three rough steps, with plain rock-cut side benches, each five feet long and three and a half wide, lead to the inner doorway. Within this doorway is a second hall, about fifty feet by nine and a half and seven high, in no way differing in style from the outer hall, except that at each end a door leads into a rock-cut chamber twelve feet by ten. Through the back wall of this second hall are reached a central and two side chambers, the central chamber about 17′ 6″ by 13′ 6″ and each of the side chambers ten feet by fourteen. Within this central chamber is an inner shrine about eight feet by four with a small room to the left. On the back wall of the shrine are some markings and hollows which look as if a relic-shrine or other object of worship had been wrenched from the wall. The story is that this cave was the dwelling of Lomesh Rishi and that a passage once ran through the back wail of the shrine into the seer’s private chamber. One of the Musalman kings is said to have spent sixty bottles of oil in lighting this passage in search of the seer, and, on failing to find him, ordered the mouth to be closed. Beyond Lakshmi’s chamber are two small rough caves and a larger one, apparently about twenty feet by forty, now half filled with mud and water. This group of caves is by the people believed to be the work of the Pandavs, and though no trace of ornament figures or writing has been found, the style of the work, the position commanding a fine view south-east across the Pauna valley to the Mandvi Tikona and Morgiri or Jambhulni hills, and the neighbourhood of the old shrine of Bahiroba now the tomb of Shaikh Umar, favour the idea that it was once a Buddhist settlement. If they are Buddhist, the caves rank among the oldest class belonging to the second or first century before or after Christ. Passing over the high ground in which the caves are cut, the path leads to a walled enclosure, at the west end of which, covered by a rough thatched roof, is the tomb of Shaikh Umar Avalia an Arab saint. Shaikh Umar is said to have come from Mecca with six brothers one of whom was Bava Malang who gave his name to the hill near Kalyan in the Konkan and another Shaikh Salla of Poona. They are said to have come as missionaries before Musalman power was established in the Deccan. According to the guardian or mujavar of the tomb, whose family have held the post for seven generations, when Shaikh Umar came to lohagad he found a Hindu ascetic on the hill-top whom he seized by the leg and tossed across to the Visapur plateau where his shrine is still worshipped as the vandev or forest-god. [It seems doubtful whether this so-called ascetic was a Gosavi and was not Bahiroba, The present vandev is said to be Bahiroba and has a Koli ministrant. At the top of the pass, on the way from Bhaja, is an old temple to some form of Devi with a broken dome in the cross-corner or Hemadpanti style. Closer under lohagad on a rough plinth, are thirteen small stone horses about a foot high and a foot long, said to be the stable of Shaikh Umar. Here, in passing, Hindu women and children leave a small branch or tree-twig. It seems probable that Shaikh Umar’s stud is a survival of the old Bahiroba horse-worship.] Once a year, on the December-January or Paush full-moon, a fair is held at Shaikh Umar’s tomb, to which about 1200 pilgrims come, Hindus of all castes as well as Musalmans, mostly from the villages round as far as Poona. One of the visitors, a Hindu of the saddler or Jingar caste, lately (1880) presented the shrine with a handsome silk covering. In a corner of the enclosure are several votive clay horses. Behind, that is to the west of, the saint’s tomb, the hill rises into a steep grassy knoll about 100 feet above the level of most of the hill-top. To the north of the central knoll, about 150 yards to the west of the saint’s tomb, is a masonry pond about 140 yards round and with two flights of steps leading to the water. On the east wall of the north flight of steps a Marathi inscription dated S. 1711 (A. D. 1789) states that the maker of the pond was Balaji Janardan Bhanu (that is Nana Fadnavis), whose agent or representative was Dhondo Ballal Nitsure, and the mason who built it Bajichat. This pond does not now hold water. At the time of the capture of the hill the English are said to have run off the water in search of treasure and the escape opening has never been closed. The remains of a stone structure for working a leather bag and of water-channels to the north show that the water of the pond was once used for gardening. To the south of the central knoll and to the west of the domed tomb is a ruined temple of Trimbakeshvar Mahadev, and close to the temple a rock-cut cistern and a well of pure water. To the north-west of the pond there seems to have been a garden where the artillery apparently was parked. A few guns lie about and stone balls are found in the grass. At the north-west corner of the hill-top a path passes through an arched gateway down a rough descent of 100 or 150 feet to the strip of rock known as the Scorpion’s Sting. This rock, which is about 1500 yards long and from twenty to forty yards broad, has a rough flat top and steep sides strengthened by broad masonry parapets. The walled passage at the west end of the rock, according to Lord Valentia (1803), was the begnning of a flight of steps which were planned by one of the Satara chiefs but never completed. [Travels.II. 171.]
To the west of the plateau, below the lohagad cliff, is a hamlet of about six Koli huts. They grow hill-grains, nachni and vari, own cattle, and make butter. They are Pujari or Pan Kolis acting as temple servants to Ganpati, Maruti, Bahiroba, Khandoba, and Vithoba. The Maratha Kunbis eat and drink with them, but they do not intermarry. Their surnames are Ikare, Dhanvale, Dakole, and Shilke.
lohagad is one of the strongest and most famous of Deccan forts and is probably a settlement of very great age. Its position, commanding the high road to the Bor pass, must have always made it important, [Till quite lately the high road to the Bor Pass kept close to the southern range of hills just below lohagad.] and its large series of caves, though not yet properly examined, would seem to show that it was a Buddhist resort at least as early as Bhaja, Karle, and Bedsa (B.C. 200 – A.D. 200). On these grounds, and from its resemblance in name and position, it seems possible that lohagad is Ptolemy’s (A.D. 150) Olochoera, one of the chief places inland from the South Konkan or Pirate Coast. In modern times it is mentioned as one of the Bahmani forts taken by Malik Ahmad when (1489) he established himself as an independent ruler. [Grant Duff’s Marathas, 33.] In 1564 Burhan Nizam Shah II. afterwards the seventh Ahmadnagar king (1590-1594) was confined here during his brother’s reign. [Briggs’ Ferishta, III. 271, 282. ] On the fall of the Ahmadnagar’ dynasty in 1637, lohagad passed to the Bijapur kings, but was soon after (1648) wrested from them by Shivaji. In 1665, after the successes of Jaising and Dilawar Khan, Shivaji was forced to cede lohagad to Aurangzeb. Only five years later (1670), in the successful operations that followed Tanaji Malusre’s capture of Sinhgad, lohagad was surprised by the Marathas, and afterwards made a sub-divisional head-quarters and treasury. [The late Mr. G. H. Johns, C.S.] About 1704 lohagad was taken by the Marathas, [Scott’s Deccan, II. 56; Waring’s Marathas, 125.] in 1713 it was taken by Angria, [Grant Duff’s Marathas, 193.] and in 1720 it was given to Balaji Vishvanath. [Grant Duff’s Marathas, 202.] About 1770 the fort was taken in the interests of Nana Fadnavis by a Koli named Javji Bomble. This man who was a famous outlaw had some capital rocket-men and advancing one of them to a favourable position pointed out to him the direction he was to fire. One of the rockets fell among some powder close to the door of the magazine and caused such an explosion that the garrison were forced to surrender. [Transactions Bombay Geographical Society I. 253.] Towards the close of the eighteenth century Nana Fadnavis, when prime minister to Bajirao II. (1796- 1800), placed Dhondopant, a dependant of his own, in command of lohagad and sent all his treasure to the fort. After Nana’s death (1800) his widow (12th November 1802)[Transactions Bombay Geographical Society, XIX. 84,] took refuge in lohagad, and Dhondopant refused to hand over the fort to the Peshwa unless Nana’s adherents received certain offices. Dhondopant remained in command till 1803 when the Peshwa, under General Wellesley’s mediation, agreed to allow Dhondo to keep the fort on promise of acting as a faithful subject. Shortly after, from a fort near the Krishna, a garrison of Dhondopant’s fired on the Peshwa and would not allow him to pass to a temple. In punishment for this outrage General Wellesley threatened to storm lohagad; and on promise of personal safety and of a yearly grant of £120 (Rs. 1200) to Nana’s widow whom General Wellesley described as ‘ very fair and very handsome Well deserving to be the object of a treaty,’ Dhondopant retired to Thana and the widow to Panvel. When the fort surrendered to the British it held a prodigious quantity of ammunition of all kinds. It was at once restored to the Peshwa and in 1803 (October) when visited by Lord Valentia, was strongly garrisoned, but poorly supplied with stores. [Valentia’s Travels, II.166-171. Dhondopant’s garrison varied according to circumstances from one to three thousand men. Ditto, 171.] Some months after the outbreak of the final war with the Peshwa (4th March 1818) a strong force under Colonel Prother was sent against lohagad. On the capture of Visapur the garrison left lohagad and on the next day it was taken without resistance. [Blacker’s Maratha War, 247. ] Till as late as 1845 the fort was garrisoned by a commandant and a few troops. [Insp. Report of Forts, Poona Division, 1845] The guard was afterwards removed but, probably because the fort could at any time be commanded from Visapur, the four gateways and other fortifications were left unharmed. In 1862, it was reported as a strong fort, the walls and gates in slight disrepair, with a sufficient supply of water, and able to hold about 500 men. [Government Lists of Civil Forts, 1862.]
Various blogs in treks to lohagad
NGO in the Area
SAMPARC SOCIAL ACTION FOR MANPOWER CREATION