The state government has granted Rs 10 crore to the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) for developing fort tourism in the state. The MTDC has initiated a new tourism project called ‘Fort Circuit’ for which six forts from the district have been selected in the first phase of development. Sinhagad, located on the outskirts of the city, is among these six forts (see box), where an open-air amphitheatre and a museum have been proposed by the MTDC. Works such as laying of roads, building of resting places, garbage disposal systems and safety railings will be taken up at selected forts.
“The open-air amphitheatre will be our priority on Sinhagad, where events like powadas (genre of Marathi poetry emerged during the late 17th century) and martial arts will be arranged under this new tourism initiative,” said Sanjay Kalpe, in-charge of the Fort Circuit project. Kalpe added that apart from constructing an amphitheatre, the MTDC would be proposing the state government to convert the meditation hall located on Sinhagad Road into a museum.
“We have estimated a cost of Rs 5.13 Crore for the development for Sinhagad. Likewise, we will tie up with the villagers of Udewadi, a village in the lap of Rajmachi Fort, who would be providing visitors with several facilities, including accommodation,” Kalpe said. He said that every fort would be developed in such a way that it will not change its look, but would be having all the facilities for the tourists. “The work on the project will commence once the rainy season is over. However, the project will take at least two years, so that the proposed developments are included,” informed Kalpe.
Naina Bondarde, head of MTDC, Pune Division, said, “We have taken up this concept on priority basis to link youngsters with history of Maharashtra and its great warriors, and forts are the witnesses of bravery of leaders of yesteryears.” Instead of just learning about the history through books, youngsters can actually feel the countless sacrifices by martyrs to protect people of the land from alien forces, Bondarde said.
The State Archaeological Department will be working with the MTDC on this project. “We will be responsible for the internal development of the fort, while the MTDC will look after the external development,” said V N Kamble, assistant director of the Archaeological Department.
Fort researchers think that instead of focusing on tourism, the government should focus on developmental work inside the fort. “It is necessary to spend 60 per cent of the fund money to repair the memorials and water tanks that exist at these forts,” said fort researcher Pandurang Balkawde.
Trekking enthusiast Mohit Limaye said that accommodation facility would turn these forts into picnic spot, which will not only ruin the sanctity of the place, but would also give birth to illegal activities by tourists.
The chosen ones
Forts Dvpt cost (approx)
Rajmachi Rs 2.92 cr
Lohgad Rs 3.08 cr
Sinhagad Rs 5.13 cr
Torna Rs 5.02 cr
Rajgad Rs 6.00 cr
Shivneri Rs 5.08 cr