Fort Jadhavgadh – A Heritage Hotel
Fort Jadhavgadh reflects the stature of Pilaji Jadhavrao – a man as strong in mind and body as the stone structure he envisioned to create. In 1707, Chhatrapati Shahuji the grandson of the great Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was released after 21 years imprisonment by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan. He handpicked a group of loyal men to recapture the region from the Mughals and restore Maratha glory. Pilaji Jadhavrao was one of them. He gathered and trained an army of men from Jadhavwadi and Saswad region to restore the Maratha regime. Pilaji breathed his last in 1784, after serving the Marathas and three generations of Peshwas. And it is this legacy — heroic and traditional — that Fort Jadhavgadh strives to keep alive.
Fort Jadhavgadh was built in 1710 as a place of residence and safe haven to Pilaji and his army. The Fort swells with Maratha architecture. The 300-year old fort covers two acres of the sprawling 25 acre property. The lawns can accommodate up to 5,000 guests. The highlights of the fort include – The armored main Durwaaza (Gate), Rock Stairways and the Dungeons. The dungeons were used as grain stores and also as prisons at the time of war.
We set off from Hinjewadi Phase-3 in the morning at 7:00 am and reached Jadhavgadh at 9:30 am. The check-in time at the hotel is 1pm. The hotel staff welcomed us to the main Durwaaza, which is a massive armored gate that was used as a single point of entry for the army men along with their elephants. What happened next was an unexpected gesture that overwhelmed us – The moment we entered the gate we were accorded a traditional welcome, to the beat of drums and the tunes of the traditional Tutari. The staff put tikas on our foreheads and handed us our welcome drink.
The stone walls of the fort take you back to the Maratha era. Since we were early our rooms were not ready. The staff suggested that we take the audio tour of the Museum before our check in. The audio tour covers the entire property at Jadhavgadh. There are 27 points in total and the tour lasts for one and a half hours. It takes you through the rich cultural heritage of the Fort. The Fort also boasts a one-of-a-kind museum, which stands where once horse and elephant stables were situated. The museum is dedicated to “Mothers and womanhood” and is called AAI (Mother in Marathi). The museum has a number of artifacts from the bygone eras.
There are a number of adventure activities in the sprawling property. Zipline, Segaway rides, archery, rifle shooting to name a few. There is a pond beyond the royal lawns. The pond is formed in what was a quarry from which the stones were used to construct the fort. There are a number of animals you will come across like Deer, Hares and Mongoose.
We had booked the Chavani Tent for the night. Our tent was ready at 12 pm. The tent is air conditioned and very spacious. There was a welcome package kept on the table which included fruits and biscuits. The tents are located just a few steps away from the pond.
There are two restaurants at the Fort – Chajja and Payatha. Chajja serves a la carte and is located in the central courtyard of the Fort. Payatha on the other hand offers a lavish Maratha buffet spread @ Rs 1000 per person and is situated at a vantage point of the Fort. We had our lunch at Payatha. There are activities and performers present in and around Payatha to make your experience festive. You can choose from learning pottery, getting henna tattoo or mehendi, painting Idols, getting your future read by a palmist, listen to the mimicry artist or try on traditional Maratha attire. All these activities are included in the charge you pay for your room. During the nights they have traditional Lavani performances along with live music by local artists.
Fort Jadhavgadh has 57 rooms – Right from tents to the Maharaja Suite. The topmost deck of the Fort has a swimming pool and a spa. We had booked the Royal Chavani Tent for the night but to our luck we were upgraded to the Deluxe Room midway of our stay. The tents are a bit away from the main Fort whereas, the Deluxe rooms are located in the fort structure.
The sprawling lawns of the fort have ample space to run around for the kids and the fort also has a mini-van called Khel Gaadi. The Khel Gaadi has free to use equipment like footballs, cricket bats, balls and badminton racquets.
You can come to Jadhavgadh as just a day trip or book an extended stay package for the entire family. In my honest opinion a one day trip is too short to enjoy all that Jadhavgadh has to offer. Atleast a two day stay is ideal.
How to get to Fort Jadhavgadh Pune:
- After exiting the Mumbai-Pune expressway, keep driving on the Pune – Satara bypass road. Do not take the flyover to Satara.
- Go straight towards the Kondwa Road, till you reach the Phursungi (Pune)-Saswad Road and then turn right. Landmark – HP Petrol Pump – Mantarwadi Phata.
- Keep on this road as it climbs past the historical Dive Ghat, at the end of the Ghat you will see signs pointing you to Fort Jadhavgadh on your right. Take the right turn and the Fort would be on your left.