The Monsoons arrived in Pune mid-June, and I’d been itching since, to drive beyond the city limits and take in the transformed landscape. We finally drove out last weekend, leaving the rain-drenched streets of home behind us, heading toward an 18th century fort on the hills of Saswad, a little over 20kms away from Pune.
Jadhavgad lies on the Pune-Satara Road, in the heart of a rural acreage. Built by Sardar Pillaji Jadhavrao, a Maratha General in the army of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, it has recently been restored and converted into a heritage hotel and resort.
The drive to the fort was a delight – the ghats, gentle, and the view, spellbinding, with the surrounding hillside bathed in an emerald freshness.
The entrance to the fort area arrived within the hour, the turn off the highway marked by two brightly painted pillars bearing the Jadhavgad signboard.
The fort came into view soon after we turned into this road. It looked imposing, yet…strange. But maybe that’s just me, given I’m not particularly excited about the convergence of modern concrete with ancient stone architecture in a historic monument that I would rather see preserved as is.
The entrance to the fort is through a large gateway, from which a flight of stone steps leads up to the fort’s main door. A traditionally dressed doorman welcomes guests here by lustily blowing a horn.
Inside, and a few more stone steps later, you find the restaurant and banquet hall on the left, the suites in front and the fort walls to the right.
The massive steps of the fort lead up to a swimming pool and further up, to a terrace from which views of the surrounding countryside may be enjoyed.
I ventured into an open room through which a very narrow stone passageway led me upwards, right into the Maharaja suite. The hotel staff cleaning the room didn’t mind me looking around and clicking pictures, although I’m guessing that the guests, had they been present, might not have been as welcoming. But I did enjoy finding my way back through the steep, narrow corridor, imagining it to be a secret passage in the fort, used by the Marathas in times of old.
Once we were done wandering around the fort, we had lunch at Payatha, an authentic Maharashtrian restaurant. There was nothing Maharashtrian about the meal, though. Nothing delicious about it either. The meal was hot, and that’s perhaps the most generous thing I can bring myself to say about it. Dessert was, particularly, a huge letdown.
There’s a little corner where you can try your hand at pottery, or have your palm read. From the looks of it, this guy wasn’t too happy with what was pronounced, regarding his future! A mehendi artist also waits outside the restaurant, drawing beautiful designs for those who like that kind of thing.
A museum displaying traditional jewelry, artefacts, utensils and murals stands at the entrance to the fort. Having been dedicated to the collector’s mother, the museum is named ‘Aai’ (mother). We didn’t have time to take a look around, but I’ve been told it’s a must see. The time crunch also caused us to miss seeing the ancient temple and the garden around it, within the boundaries of the fort.
It was late afternoon when we left Jadhavgad. Pune welcomed us back with grey clouds and heavy rain.
It’s still beautiful weather when you’re inside a car and enjoying Pink Floyd on the stereo. A terrific drive, and a Sunday well spent.
Check the Jadhavgad website if you want details.
And here’s a copy of the tariff card I picked up from the front desk. Please click to enlarge.