This fort was initially recognised as the Bhorpya hill until Shivaji Maharaj completely reconstructed it, which was later recognised as ‘PRATAPGAD’. The construction of this fort was done under supervision of Shivaji Maharaj’s Prime Minister, Moropant Trimbak Pingle.
This fort has got significant historic importance due to the the famous temple of “Bhavani Mata”, constructed by Shivaji Maharaj and the event of Assassination of Afzalkhan on it.
Assassination of Afzalkhan : The wife of Sultan of Vijapur, known as ‘Badi Sahebin’, used to efficiently handle all the operations of kingdom of Adilshah. She ordered Afzalkhan to attack Shivaji Maharaj. Infantry along with elephants & horses accompanied him.
When Afzalkhan (henceforth referred as ‘Khan’) reached Wai, he instructed his lawyer, Krishnaji Bhaskar, to arrange a meeting with Shivaji Maharaj. However, Shivaji Maharaj, who was eventually at Pratapgad, had understood through his detectives that Khan, infact, had come with the intention of killing him. Knowing the strength of armed forces that Khan had along with him, Maharaj fixed the meeting with Khan at Pratapgad. As a proactive step towards war, Maharaj stationed Netaji Palkar in the forest of Jawali, Moropant Peshwe in Ghats, Shamrao Nilkanth & Trimbak Bhaskar in Konkan region and Haibatrao and Balaji Shilmakar in Bacheghodi Ghat. Their respective troops of soldiers were instructed to come ahead only in the event of war.
A ‘SHAMIYANA’, the tent, was built for the meeting on the plateau of the fort. It was well decorated with gold, silver and diamonds. Maharaj was accompanied by two body guards, namely, Jiva Mahala and Sambhaji Kawji, whereas Khan had Sayyed Banda and other two of his officials with him.
There are many structures in the upper fort with the Mahadev Temple being the most impressive structure. The temple is located in the northwest area of the fort near the edge with cliffs on three sides and a sheer drop of over 800 ft.
The lower fort was built in a rectangular shape with a length of about 1050 sq ft and width of about 360 sq ft. To defend the fort, there are towers and bastions in the southeast of the fort which rise up to 40 ft. There is a Bhavani Temple in the eastern side that is dedicated to Goddess Bhavani.
The battle between Afzal Khan and Shivaji was known as the Battle of Pratapgad after which the Afzal tower was constructed outside the fort on the approach road as a lookout for enemies. It is said that Afzal Khan’s head is buried under the Afzal tower which is also known as Afzal Buruj. The southern side of the fort has natural protection because of the rocky terrain and the eastern side has heavy fortification till the Afzal Burj.