Today my plan was to visit Raigad fort via Mangaon and come back to coastal line for Harihareshwar. I departed from Mhasala around 6.30 am. The way to Mangaon was picturesque specially due to early morning sun light after heavy downfall at night. I stopped by some times to take pictures. Around 1 hr and I was in Mangaon. First of all my concern was to withdraw money as I was almost running short of cash. I could find one and only ATM in the town and I headed towards Mahad which was on the way to Raigad. After Mangaon it's NH-17, Mumbai-Goa highway. I reached Pachad village which is at the foot of the fort at around 8.30 am. I had a mini breakfast at a small restaurent. I left my luggage with them and went towards the rope way. For rope way, they needed a group of 8 people so I had to wait till then. Soon there was a group of people to accompany me. We reached the top within 5 mins. Journey was short but wonderful with breath taking panoramic views of beautiful nature. Before entering in the fort, we need to pay nominal fee for entry. Outside the ticket office, there were many guides who would explain us the history behind the fort. Initially I decided not to go for any guide as I thought that I knew the most part of the history. Soon I realized that it would be better to get a guide who would explain the different places. My decision proved to be worth. The guide was really good at information and he answered all my questions. He said that he and other guides are trained by famous historians Babasaheb Purandare and Ninad Bedekar.
Tomb of Shivaji Maharaj
What I liked most is, his intensity and the way to narrate the history of the place. It felt like I was part of the events at the fort. We saw most of the places like Queen's palaces, Ashtapradhan Mandal office, Diwaan-e-Khas, Darbaar, Mena darwaja, Palakhi darvaja, Raj sinhasan, Nagarkhana, Bajaarpeth, Jagadishwar Mandir, Mahrajanchi samadhi, Takmak tok ani Shirkai devi mandir. Darbaar was built keeping in mind the acoustics so that even if anyone chatting/whispering in any corner, can be heard by Shivaji Mahraj sitting in Sinhasan. It can be experienced today as well. Nagarkhana has a sculpture of a lion with elephant at it's feet and one small elephant on it's tail. Lion symbolizes Shivaji Maharaj, elephant at it's feet symbolizes mighty enemies like Nijam, Adilshah, Englishmen, Portuguese and Siddhis. While the small elephant on the tail symbolizes Mughals which were like trying to capture tail of lion.
The marketplace was designed in such a way that the customers which were horse riders in most of the cases, would comfortably buy the goods. Then, the Jagdishwar mandir is constructed in such a way that it would look like a mosque from a distance.
Between I offered my mujara to Shivaji Maharaj. On my way back, I visited Takmak Tok which was a short trek. Finally, I was again in the ropeway for return journey. It was a life time experience. Then, I decided to move towards Mandangad which is on the way to Dapoli. My previous plan was to come back to Harihareshwar via Mangaon/Goregaon. So I took a left turn towards Mandangad after getting some fuel for my bike which was already showing indications that it would surprise me anytime. Mandangad is 30 kms from the turn. The fort is not so big and you can reach close to top with your vehicle. One can easily explore it in an hour. I was thinking to head further towards Harihareshwar after visiting Mandangad. Again nature came in my way and I had to spend 2 hrs at a tea stall waiting for rain and sky to get clear. After kicking off, I reached Mandangad in next 15 mins. As it was too late, I decided take halt here itself. I could easily find an accommodation. Instead of settling down, I went for Mandangad fort right away. Within 10 mins, I was on top as there is a road uphill. Then I had to park my bike on the way as the road was washed away by rain and I did not want to take any risk.
bounty of nature surrounding Mandangad
Two of the villagers directed me the way on the top. There is a temple, 3 water storages and broken walls and strongholds. It is not so big. I could cover it in 30 mins. Important thing is, surround of the fort provides breathtaking views of bounty of nature.After enjoying the leisure walk on the fort , I walked back as it was about to get dark. I met the two villagers again on my way back. They were waiting for me as I was new to this place and they wanted to accompany me on my way back. We continued to walk down. On the way we could hear voices of monkeys. They added that there are other wild animals like wild boar, bison, leopards as it is an area covered with dense forest. Soon, we reached where my bike was parked and I came back to the room.