A Road Trip Down the Memory Lane, My Visit to Shivsrushti aka Raigad Mahotsav

Intro – In the last week of the first month of the year I planned something exciting after a month long grilling work. And to my surprise, it was another road trip (which I crave for BTW!) in Raigad district a good 150 km. from the hustle bustle of Pune.

On Jan 24th, 2016, I went to relive the majesty and greatness of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s era at “Raigad Mahotsav” (a first of its kind of festival arranged to relive and feel the great Maharashtrian culture), which was held from 21st to 24th January 2016.

What was the Raigad Mahotsav all about?

As it was the last day of the Mahotsav and people from all neighboring cities of Mumbai and Pune had thronged Raigad fort, to witness the “ShivShrusti” on the 20-acre land at the base of Raigad Fort, in the vicinity of Pachad village, to portray the golden era of Shivaji Maharaj, the Pride of Maharashtra.

My Experience

I went to Raigad from Pune and it was a bike ride as I hate car rides, which makes me inhale stale air, rather the freshness of nature that truly blows my mind. The route from Pune to Raigad was a hypnotizing one for me. We began our journey in the morning mist at 7 a.m. sharp as it takes minimum 3 hours to reach the fort. The weather was crisp and I felt the chilly breeze flowing through my hair, added the visual natural landscaping made the journey even more memorable.

As the roadtrip progressed further we had our stop over for snacks, where we were engulfed between the remarkably picturesque -Pune-Pirangute-Mulshi-Tamhini-Nijampur-Pachad routes. During the ride, I truly sensed the natural habitat of the Mulshi Dam, and when I stood atop the highest point on Tamhini ghat, the visual that I saw will stay there in my heart for a long time to come. Moving forward from Tamhini, we diverted towards Nijampur to Pachad highway, a 30km stretch with unusual, zigzag turns, scenic points, and feelings of the great Maratha Empire and its glorious antiquity.

Emulating the Golden Era

MTDC (Maharashtra State Development Corporation) had organized a marvelous event to showcase the golden era on a very grand scale to the youth and impart knowledge of Shivaji’s magnificence or how great a “Management Guru” he was. With the help of famous Art Director Nitin Chandrakant Desai (Devdas and Jodha-Akbar fame), the entire Shiv Srushti that existed centuries ago on the Raigad fort was enacted at the base in the vicinity “Jijamata Mahal” from where you can directly get the view of Raigad fort.

The whole area was decorated in shivkalin style. Shivsrushti had a display of Shahir, Vasudev, Bharudakar and Gondhali artists. At the entrance of Shivsrushti, Mahadarwaja with the huge elephants was designed and was adorned in a historical style. After entering through the Mahadarwaja there was a temple of Tuljabhavani mata and the atmosphere was so authentic in that temple that people were removing their shoes to seek blessings from her, also a pandit was there, with a man playing the gondhalidrum.

A structure of a village, were farmers cultivated their lands and built their shelter was also recreated. Several performances were held such as “Shivrajhyabhishek”, the coronation ceremony of King Shivaji, where he was officially crowned as the Chhatrapati of the Maratha Kingdom. On display were also the royal weapons and swords of the Marathas, the exhibition of coins, letters in the handwriting of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the model of forts, lectures, folk art, dhol tasha, and storytelling. There were many stalls displaying various arts. A person by the name of Someshwar Mulane from Nashik had shaped 24 x 48 feet Rangoli revealing Coronation Ceremony of Shivaji Maharaj which was one of the prominent attractions of Shivsrushti.

Also, we visited a stall showing 3d animated film of Raigad fort. The entry for the Mahotsav was free for all, and all arrangements right from security to sanitation and food was very well organized. The Raigad Fort, where the actual Shiv Srusthi existed in the mid-1600s, was decorated with the amazing shivkalin style Mahadarwaza, Sabhamandap, Rani vasa, Athapradhan Mandap, Bazaarpeth (market place), Holi string and the Samadhi Sthal.

You can watch RAIGAD MAHOTSAV Walkthrough in 3D Graphics & Visuals by Art Director Nitin Chandrakant Desai here:

A Well-Organized Event

Many families and most importantly young boys and girls’from all over Maharashtra had descended to attend the Mahotsav, which was the primary purpose of recreating Shivsrushti. Many artists performed folk dances of Maharashtra, which was famous from the “Shivshahi” period. Famous actor Dr. Amol Kolhe portrayed Chhatrapati’s role and enacted a play on Shivaji’s Coronation.

It was the first such event from MTDC and as a first attempt; it surely gets 5 stars from me, if not more. The wall sculptures narrating the entire life story of Shivaji was an inspiration. The art gallery, crafted wall sculptures based on Chhatrapati’s life was awe-striking. I think this grand event also provided many a chance to plan their next trekking, a visit, an educational trip to the Raigad fort. Also, it is one of the best spots to visit on weekends and to escape the city hush-bush, view and feel the greenery, walk in the wilderness and encounter the great Maratha history.

All in all, it was once again a superb experience, just like my Rajgad trekking experience. However, this time, my partner in crime was my laziness overloaded writer and journalist friend Vardan Pandhare, who initiated the road trip and gave me all the details of the historical event. Thanks to him too for taking me to such a naturally blessed location and witness a glorious piece of history unfold in front of my eyes.

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