Fort Type : Hill Base Village : Satara City, Satara district
Grade : Easy Height : 4400 feet
Distance From Pune : 100 kms
Ajinkyatara means invincible fort and is one of the most important forts in Sahayadri ranges and was once the capital of Maratha empire. It is located next to Satara city or one can say Satara is located on the slopes of this fort. It is on one of the seven mountains surrounding the city of Satara (from which the city derives its name). This is the first thing which one sees as one gets neat Satara on the NH4 highway and has a towering presence, which can be seen from any place in the city.
There are many important landmarks present on the slopes or machi as it is called, including Dholya Ganpati, which is patron deity of the city, Adalat vada, Hanuman temple etc. I still remember going to the Hanuman temple every other evenings when we used to be there. One of the interesting thing to see there is a huge rock, which some time in history rolled from the top and landed there creating a small cave (gufa) beneath it, which we kids used to love hiding under and spooking others. On the very rock, there is a vista point, from which you get a great view of the city along with surrounding hills and the sun set from there is a thing to be experienced. We used to drag our feet when the time used to come to go home from there.
On the hill slope there is one more place called char bhinti. There is a water tank at the entrance and then stairs to climb. This is the place where they have built a memorial to the freedom fighters of the First War of Independence and this spot offers a unparallel and unobstructed view of the Satara city. You can see the seven hills encircling the valley and on behind you is the mighty Ajinkya Tara and its buruj on top of it is this huge signage (“Ajinkya Tara”) written in marathi, which can be spotted as far off from the NH4 and is pride of the city .
The road to the fort starts from either Char bhinti or further down hill from the junction of upper and palace street from where it winds through a narrow street and merges to the ghat. It takes around 20 mins to reach the top, the road being small and uneven, but has some nice thick forest cover and so a treat in monsoon or just after that to drive on and we had even spotted peacocks and some other wild animals here few times. Just before you reach the top there is a nice vista point from where you can see another famous fort; Sajjan Gadh and the wind farms further in the background. The entrance area to the fort is small and the parking space is limited.
Satara has a very special place in my life and I have been coming to this city since childhood and the visit here is incomplete without ascending this fort, which keeps following you where ever you live or move in the city. There is a road which leads to the main gate of the fort, which is fairly maintained as there are few offices on top (DD, Akashwani etc) and so people travel everyday there to work. I along with my cousins used to trek it once a while and I believe this was the first fort I trekked in my life. There are many trails and you crisscross the road as well and takes anywhere around 1:30 hours to 2 hours to reach the top.
There is a big gate at the fort entrance and some steep steps. On the either side of the entrance there platforms for the soldiers and the bases of which have some stone carved motifs. You can continue climbing the stairs and you reach the buruj or you can continue and you pass through the DD/Akashwani center and a short distance from there is remains of the palace of Tara rani. There are many tanks and temples at the top and som remains of fortiffication. Mangalai mandir is close to the famous buruj and due to this temple the fort is also called as Mangalai. Just besides it is the famous Ajinkya Tara sign board in marathi which is visible even from NH4. You also get good views of Yavteshwar, Sajjangadh and other hills surrounding it. One could sit there and time just passes you by.
I have so many memories of this fort and it has been my most visited fort and with the history associated with this place on always leaves this place with pride in the heart!