PLACES OF INTEREST

MAHULI FORT.

Ma'huli Fort, on the hill of the same name 2815 feet high, is in the Shahapur sub-division about four miles north-west of Shahapur. Towards the south end of the hill top is a huge cleft, probably 700 or 800 feet deep, in which stand some gigantic basalt pillars. The old ascent was from the east by the Machi village. The gateway which stands at the head of a very steep ravine, and the battlements along the crest of the ravine are still perfect. The fortifications are said to have been built by the Moghals, and on the top are the ruins of a place of prayer and of a mosque. [The Syed family who formerly lived at Bhiwndi, but are now known as the Nawabs of Nasik, were it is believed commandants of the fort, and still have a grant in connection with it.] As in Takmak, Malanggad, and other Thana hill forts, a sheer precipice of black basalt from 500 to 600 feet high runs almost all round. Towards the south a small cleft runs right across the hill, which according to local report was used as a dungeon. The prisoners could not climb the sides, and to jump down at the ends was certain death.

The following are the details of Captain Dickinson's survey in 1818. It is the loftiest of Thana forts on a hill more than 2500 feet high. The hill has three fortified summits, Palasgad on the north, Mahuli in the centre, and Bhandargad in the south. Mahuli, the middle peak, is the largest of the three, being upwards of half a mile long by nearly as much broad, with a plentiful supply of water and in many places fine soil. The ascent is throughout steep, the latter part up a very rugged and difficult ravine. At the head of the ravine stands an exceedingly strong gateway, flanked and covered with towers, the works being continued for some distance along the brink of a stupendous precipice. On a rising ground on the top of the hill, a little beyond the gateway, is a little redoubt called Parthalgad, very low and out of repair. The other two forts, Palasgad to the north and Bhandargad to the south, can be reached only up the heads of the narrow ravines which separate them from Mahuli. From the country below Palasgad alone is accessible. In Mahuli and Bhandargad there were a few buildings which required a little repair, while Palasgad and other works were rapidly going to decay. In Captain Dickinson's opinion the fort was untenable. In 1862 it was very dilapidated. Time, it was said, would shortly wipe away all traces of fortifications except small parts of the old wall and the foundations. [Government List of Civil Forts, 1862.] The top of the hill is now well covered with myrobalan trees.

History.

In the year 1485, Mahuli, along with other Konkan forts, was taken by Malik Ahmad, afterwards the founder of the Ahmadnagar dynasty. [Briggs' Ferishta, III. 191.] In 1635 Mahuli surrendered to Shahu, [Badshah Nama in Elliot, VII. 56.] and here Jijibai, the mother of Shivaji, occasionally took refuge with her young son. [Grant Duff, 51 note.] In 1636 it was invested by Khan Zaman and Shahu forced to surrender. [Badshah Nama in Elliot, VII. 60.] In 1661 it was taken by Shivaji, though defended by a Rajput garrison. [Scott's Ferishta, II. 18. ] It was soon after given to the Moghals, but in 1670, after a serious repulse and a siege of two months, it was taken by Moro Tirmal, Shivaji's Peshwa or prime minister. [Grant Duff, 109.] It seems to have been held by the Marathas till it was ceded by them to the English under the terms of the treaty of Poona, June 1817.