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Chivalry at Sinhagad in 1670
Chivalry lives on, it never dies. One inherits it through folk songs, ballads and stories narrated from generation to generation.

One brave fighter for freedom of the Marathas was Tanaji Malusare, a devotee of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He is alive today in the annals of Maratha glory glowing in ballads of battlefield. Tanaji lived and died for his countrymen in an undying battle ballad told and retold generation after generation for over four centuries in Bharat and beyond the shores of the Indian Ocean. Our great hero breathed his last on the heights of the hilly fort called Kondana, renamed after our brave lion as Sinhagad.

Sinhagad is located about 35 km southwest of Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The legend has it that the fort was built about two thousand years ago and has been the epicentre if many battles recorded in history. The most notable battle was fought on the night of 4th February 1670 between the Marathas led by Tanaji Malusare for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Mughals led by Udaybhan Singh Rathore, the fort commander appointed by Mirza Raja Jaisingh I on behalf of Aurangzeb, the emperor. The Marathas won, they vanquished the Mughals but in the ferocious battle ending in hand-to-hand fight between Tanaji and Udaybhan, the former attained martyrdom after dispatching the latter to death. The victory was communicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by a gunfire heard in Pune where the great Maratha awaited the good news in his Lal Mahal.

The Chhatrapati rode at breakneck speed to the fort but was stunned to see the silence around. When Suryaji, a brother of martyr Tanaji gave the joyous but sad message, the Chhatrapati uttered the famous sentenced written in letters of gold, "Garh Aala, Pun Singh Gela", (The fort is conquered but the lion is gone forever. He immediately renamed the Kondana fort as Sinhagad, the name etched in the annals of chivalry.

Topography of the fort

Perched on an isolated cliff of the Bhuleshwar range of the Sahyadri Mountains, Sinhagad is 1312 meters high. It has been mostly controlled by the Marathas with a few gaps of time when invaders like the Mughals and the East India Company had seized military control of the commanding fort dominating the area around. By the way, the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla is located in the valley below and the cadets take delight in horse riding to the foothills or going on hikes there to be in the midst of nature.

There are steep cliffs and except the footpath leading to the main gate, Kalyan Dwar and the other entry point is Pune Dwar. Since the two entry points are well guarded, it was rather difficult for Tanaji's bravehearts numbering 399 to gain a successful entry there. Tanaji chose to climb the steep straight wall like hill with the help of a trained monitor lizard named, Yashwanti and the long rope tied thereon. He and the brave band of Marathas gained a surprise entry into the fort and overpowered the Mughal sentries who were caught unaware. They thereafter opened the main entry points through which Tanaji's brother, Suryaji and his brave Maratha warriors made a triumphant entry pouncing on the 5,000 Mughal soldiers. The Marathas carried the day but lost the valiant commander, Tanaji who made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of his king and country. The rest is history.

Of course, Chhatrapati Rajaram, younger son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had found refuge in Sinhagad when his capital, Satara was besieged by the enemy. Unfortunately, he expired there later, on account of illness.

At the entry to the fort, one comes across a bust of Tanaji Malusare, the great captain of the men of valour. The tourists and visitors pay obeisance to the great man who conquered the fort displacing the Mughals and made the saffron flag of the Marathas replace the Mughal flag fulfilling the ardent wish of Mata Jijabai, the mother and motivator of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

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