My cousin woke me up early in the morning, yelling something about going to visit some fort. I pulled in my blankets closer; I’d only just arrived at Pune last night, and had barely had enough sleep before this monster came along and disrupted it. Then she yelled loudly, “It’s a historical place, lazybones, get up!”, and that was all it took, me being hungry for history at any and all points of time.
We ate an early and hurried breakfast, and took the car out to Prachandagad, where Torna Fort is located. I learnt that it is historically symbolic, because that’s the first fort captured by Chatrapati Shivaji as part of his Maratha Empire expansion. He captured this fort at the tender age of sixteen, marking an important touchstone in the annals of history.
Upon stopping and asking a guard at the fort, we learnt that the fort itself was built around the 13th century by the followers of the Hindu God, Shiva. It was Shivaji who renamed the fort from Prachandgad to Torna, as it had come to be known today.
An elderly local man joined our conversation with the guard, saying that he knew some more about the history behind the fort. He told us that after Shivaji’s death, it supposedly passed into the care of his son, Sambhaji. The last Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, took over this fort from his forefathers, who had acquired it around the 18th century after assassinating Sambhaji. Aurangzeb renamed the fort Futulgaib. When we asked him how the fort is still called Torna today, he replied that the Treaty of Purandhar had restored the fort to the control of the Marathas.
The fort is located in the southwest of the Indian peninsula, in the Sahayadri Mountain Ranges. It turns out that this is a very popular trekking spot among tourists, and knowing that from earlier on from my cousin, we’d both come prepared with our shoes and gear. We trekked up the ranges, and the locals were very helpful in directing us. The trek itself was not too hard, though there were some parts where we had to exercise caution. We stayed the night at the Menghai Devi temple, which was where all the trekkers lodged when on this climb.