VAIRATGAD FORT

Vairatgad Fort (Wai T; 17° 50′ N, 73° 50′ E; RS. Wathar, 21 m;) in Wai 3,939 feet above sea level, lies nine miles north-east of Medha and six miles south-east of Wai, on a spur of the main Sahyadri range which branches nearly due east for about twenty miles from Malcolm Peth by Pancgani. It is a prominent object east of Wai between the Khambatki pass and the gorge by which the Poona-Bangalore road passes into the Satara taluka. The villages of Vyajvadi and Jambulne on the north and Mhasve on the south all touch the fort, the greater part of which is in Vyajvadi. The ascent can be made either from Mhasve village or Bavdhan. The easiest way is to climb by the gorge separating Mhasve and Bavdhan up the west phase of the hill, along the northern ridge of the Jambulne village till the hamlet of Vyajvadi is reached lying close beneath the fort gate. The fort is about 1,000 feet above the plain and the ascent is about two miles. It would be about half a mile less, but much steeper direct from Mhasve. The fort has a vertical scarp of black rock, thirty feet high, surrounded by about seven feet of wall loopholed for musketry. The lower parts of the wall are of large rectangular unmortared stones. The upper part is mortared and of smaller material. There are remains of the head-quarters buildings and some quarters for sepoys, all modern. Inside the fort are five stone ponds none of them more than forty feet in diameter, and outside is one cave pond. The fort is one of those said to have been built by Bhoj Raja, the Kolhapur Silahara chief Bhoja II. (1178-1193) of Panhala, and its name is locally derived from the Vairats, a wild tribe supposed to have dwelt in this neighbourhood, who were subdued by the Pandavas. The fort is partly commanded by the heights of Bavdhan three miles to the west. The view on all sides is very fine and extends on the west to Malcolm Peth.

Banyan Trees.

At the foot of Vairatgad within the limits of Mhasve village are two banyan trees, the larger of them shading an area of three quarters of an acre. The space covered by it is a very symmetrical oval. There is no brushwood underneath, nor aught to impede the view save the stems of the shoots from the parent tree which has decayed. [Murray’s Bombay Handbook, 195; the late Mr. S. H. Little, C. S., First Assistant Collector, Satara; Bombay Literary Magazine, 292-293. Lady Falkland writes (Chow, Chow, I, 206-207): The shade was so complete, I could sit in the middle of the day without any covering on my head. The tree was of such a size, that separate picnic parties might take place under it, and not interfere with each other. There were countless avenues, or rather aisles, like those of a church, the pale gray stems being the columns, which, as the sun fell on them, glistened in parts like silver; and here and there were little recesses like chapels, where on the roots from the boughs formed themselves into delicate clustering pillars, up and down which little squirrels were chasing each other, while large monkeys were jumping from bough to bough, the boughs cracking and creaking as if both monkeys and bough would fall on my head.]

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