The Raigad fort is in Pune and was very important to Shivaji’s kingdom. His coronation took place in Raigad in 1674. The fort is in the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountain range in western India. The fort itself is on a mountain top and the village is at the base of the mountain. Steep Fort walls guard the fort from all sides. There is a steep vertical drop on one side and the generals decided not to build a wall. They did not think any human could possibly scale the vertical drop to enter the Fort without notice. The drop seemed enough protection.
The villagers from the foothill came up to the fort with their wares to sell. They would stand by the main fort door when the man in charge (mavala) would open it allowing the villagers inside. The gates were closed at sunset and would not open until the next morning. Those were the orders of Shivaji Maharaj.
Hirakani was a poor milkmaid who brought fresh milk to sell to the folks in the fort. She came in each morning though the main door and went home before sunset. This day wasn’t like any other day. She was running late. Her little baby at home was crying relentless and had to be calmed before she could come. She ran most of her way up and was inside the fort. The sun was already getting ready to set. She hurried to sell the milk to her regular customers. She ran back to the main door, but Mavala had just closed the it. “Please open the door just a little bit. I have a baby at home and will go hungry if I don’t reach home tonight,” she pleaded. “The doors cannot open for anybody. These are the orders from Shivaji Maharaj himself. I cannot open the doors for you.” Mavala replied.
Hirkani was desperate to reach home to feed her baby. She thought of the vertical drop that had no wall. In the dark night she climbed down the steep mountain. The thorny bushes scratched her, but the thought of her baby hungry without her, kept her going. Hirkani reached the bottom of the mountain and to baby. The next morning she was at the fort door as usual with her can of milk. The Mavala was surprised and suspicious to see her. He took her to Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji heard her courageous story and looked at her scratched hands and torn clothes. He believed her story. He ordered for a wall to be built at the unprotected vertical drop and named it “Hirkani Burj”. This buruj still exists. 400 years later Hirkani’s story is still popular and has inspired several books.