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An hour’s bus ride away from Mahabaleshwar, the seventeenth-century fort of PRATAPGADH  stretches the full length of a high ridge affording superb views over the surrounding mountains. Reached by a flight of five hundred steps, it is famously associated with the Maratha chieftain, Shivaji, who lured the Mughal general Afzal Khan here from Bijapur to discuss a possible truce. Neither, it would seem, intended to keep to the condition that they should come unarmed. Khan attempted to knife Shivaji, who responded by killing him with the gruesome wagnakh, a set of metal claws worn on the hand. Modern visitors can see Afzal Khan’s tomb, a memorial to Shivaji, and views of the surrounding hills.

Taxis charge Rs560 for the return trip to Pratapgadh. State buses also do the journey each day, leaving the bus stand at 9am and returning at 12.30pm.

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