Formidable, but scenic Lohagad Fort near Poone

Lohagad Fort,

The Maratha Empire had many strong forts to defend their territories from the enemy attacks, in particular, the Moguls, one of them being Lohagad Fort, which means Iron Fort.  This famous hill fort is surrounded by strong, tall boundary walls and four massive entrance gates named Ganesh Darwaja, Narayan Darwaja, Hanuman Darwaja and Maha Darwaja. The four large gates  are still in good condition and  reasonably functional.
Lohagad Fort,Ganesh Darwaja, Lohagad, Maharashtra, India
Situated close to the hill station Lonavala and 52 km northwest of Pune, It stands  majestically atop the Sahyadri hills at an
elevation of 3450 feet above the MSL. Lohagad is part of the Western Ghats  mountain chain and  is located to the southwest of the larger Visapur fort which is at a higher elevation. This formidable fort is known for its solid construction and scenic beauty besides a good destination for the mountain hikers. It is located in a splendid area with lots of greenery, mist and clouds hanging  around  it and offers a breath-taking sight.  During the monsoon period  the fort is covered with mist and  humid clouds  and it is always wet. The foot hill is visible whereas  the top hill is not visible during this period. 
Lohagad Fort, near Lonavala,
The plan of this fort is peculiar to the Maratha rulers whose priority was security and safe defense in case of war.  impenetrable, self contained fort was the right answer. The hilly region surrounded by rugged terrain is an added advantage for the Marathas  and is a big impediment for the invading enemy. The fort has long  narrow walls like fortified spur. The fort extends or juts out to the northwest to a fortified spur, called Vinchukata - fortification resembling a scorpion’s tail. It will take 20 minutes to reach the edge from the fort.

Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Yadavas, Bahamanis, Nizamshahis,  and Mughals ruled this place once. As for the Marathas Chatrapati Shivaji captured it in 1648 but had to surrender to the Moguls in 1665 under the Treaty of Purandar. However, indomitable as he was, the  fort came back under Shivaji's control in 1670 and was used for keeping his treasury.
Vinchukata fortification
In times of crises and emergency, the fort became handy, a sort of safe haven for the Maratha rulers, considering its strategic location and the tough terrain around it. The trails  and roads  on the slopes of the hills are quite slippery, particularly in the rainy season and if the enemies don't know the terrain well, it will be difficult  task for them to go up hill and attack the fort.

During the later  Peshwa  period  a  number of important buildings were built  under the supervision of Nana Fadnavis.

Lohagad fort can be easily reached by trains from Lonavla. Malawi is the next station from Lonavla which is  at a distance of 9 kms from the fort. Lohagadwadi is the village at the bottom from where the steps on hill to the Lohagad fort start. Distance between Malawli and Lohagadwadi can be covered in roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours.Bhaje Gaav' is the base village from where the hikers start their uphill journey.

Bhaja caves.  The caves are right next to the Lohagad fort. You can see the fort from Bhaja village as well as from the caves. If you walk to Lohagad from the base 

01. The near-by attraction is Bhaja Caves or Bhaje caves. It is a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating as far  back as to the 2nd century BC  near Lonavala, Maharashtra. They are protected national monuments.
Ancient Bhaja caves.

02. Bhaja was once  an important ancient trade route running from the Arabian Sea eastward into the Deccan Plateau.

03. The caves are 400 feet above the village of Bhaja. They belong to the Hinayana Buddhism sect in Maharashtra that was prevalent then according to inscriptions. 

04. There are a number of Stupas characteristic of Buddhism.  

05. Notable features are the wooden architecture and various wooden carvings. 

06. The presence of Tabla carvings suggest the percussion instrument that is used in dance performances has been in existence for at least two thousand years. The carving shows a woman playing tabla and another woman, performing dance.