Standing as silent sentinels to history are the 350-odd forts of Maharashtra. Beaten by the sea waves, lashed at by the torrential Deccan rains, or scorched in the blazing sun, stand imposing ramparts and crumbling walls ? the last lingering memories of Maharashtra's martial times. Nowhere in the country would you encounter such a profusion of forts. And such variety. Sited on an island, as at Murud-Janjira or guarding the seas as at Bassein, or among the Sahyadri hills, as at Raigad, whose zig-zag walls and rounded bastions sit like a sceptre and crown amidst hills turned mauve.
Most of the forts in Maharashtra whether up in the hills or near the seas are associated with Shivaji --the great Maratha warrior and an equally great fort builder. Moreover, these forts were treated as mini-cities, such as Panhala, which is now a hill station. The concept of the fort-city was, however, not peculiar to Shivaji alone. The Portuguese who came to India as traders and missionaries, built within a century of their coming, Bassein, a garden city to rival many a European capital.
Today, these forts numbed by sun and sleet, have not only been witness to changing times, but have also shaped them and within their walls throb the heart-beat of history.