Pratapgad fort was the glorious backdrop of Shivaji's legendary battle against Afzhal Khan in 1656, when Shivaji used tiger claws to rip open his opponent's belly. Pratapgad is a strategically located fort in Satara and is a popular and frequented fort due to its proximity to the popular hill station - Mahableshwar. Pratapgad is amongst the highest points in the hills of this region.
Pratapgad is not really a trekking destination and very few trekkers opt to trek up Pratapgad fort. Pratapgad is far more popular as a sightseeing option from Mahabaleshwar, to the extend that there is a ‘Pratapgad Darshan’ bus service from Mahabaleshwar. Afzal Khan's tomb is the major landmark in Pratapgad where an annual Urs is held to date. Bhavani temple, Shivaji statue and the garden are other important spots in Pratapgad.
Hastakala Kendra - Pratapgad
On the way up from Ambenali to Pratapgad there is a handicraft centre set up within a small campus where different artefacts and handicraft is on display and sale. An exhibition of art and pictures of historic moments in Shivaji's life carved in metal is a stop that you should take. There also is a refreshment centre within the campus.
Pratapgad is located between Poladpur and Mahableshwar. At about 25 Kms from Mahabaleshwar, a drive down the Ambenali ghat gets you to the Ambenali village from where a deviation takes you to Pratapgad. Being an important sightseeing option from Mahabaleshwar there is a government tourist bus - 'Pratapgad darshan' that takes tourists from Mahabaleshwar to Pratapgad and back.
The tomb of Afzal Khan and Sayyed Banda are the major landmarks in Pratapgad. Bhavani mandir on the left hand side while walking up to the upper fort is the next major point. On top of the fort there is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj with a garden around it. Ahead of the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, there is a Maharashtra Government Rest House.
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The Legendary 'Wagh Nakh'..
The Pratapgad battle between Afzal Khan and Shivaji is more of a legend in which Shivaji killed the mighty seven foot tall Afzal Khan with tiger nails - 'Wagh Nakh'. Shivaji after the battle had a tomb built for Afzal Khan befitting the mighty warrior.