Shahapur is situated in the vicinity of Fort Mahuli which has been blessed with footsteps of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Fort Mahuli has its own unique importance as it falls within the boundaries of Tansa Sanctuary. Therefore, some of the nature lovers came together and formed Mahuli Nisarg Mandal in 1989. Main purpose behind this initiative was to increase awareness about nature in the minds of people, most importantly students, around Shahapur. Shri Shirish Pitale has a lion’s share in the formation and nourishment of this Mandal.
In the initial stages, Mahuli Nisarg Mandal used to organize programs like Nature Camps, Earth Day (Vasundhara Din) on 9th April, Drawing Competition, Rangoli Competition, etc. to cultivate love and affection about nature in the minds of students.
From the above programs, karyakartas like Shri Shankar Patil, Shri Manish Vyapari started working devotedly for the Mandal. This also initiated, conceptualized and execution of a two-day Fort Mahuli Festival – 2009 (Kille Mahuli Mahotsav – 2009) on 9th January, 2009 on the auspicious occasion of completion of 351 years for inclusion of this historical Fort Mahuli in Sovereign State of Chhatrapati Shivaji (Swarajya). Amateur trekkers of all age groups, from 14 to 70 years, from distant places like Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Pune, Dombivali, Bhivandi, Kalyan participated and enjoyed this program.
After successful execution of the above program, we arranged a program Environment Get-together (Paryavaran Mela) on 12th December, 2010 in Shahapur to increase awareness about nature and its conservation in students. This program also received an overwhelming response with participation of 720 students. This was a landmark success for the Mandal. We also found some young and active members like Amey Athavale, Lakshmikant Borse, Ashwini Kulkarni and Nitin Rane.
This success resulted in a huge confidence, energy in members which helped our Mandal to spread its wings. A thought to register ourselves emerged to avoid any inconveniences in dealing with Government offices and to become financially sound. We registered our Mandal as “Mahuli Nisarg Seva Nyas” with the Charity Commissioner, Thane on 11th January, 2011. The first Committee Members of the Registered entity were unanimously elected as, Shri Shankar Patil - President, Mrs. Madhuri Kulkarni – Vice President, Shri Manish Vyapari – Secretary, Shri Rajendra Jage – Co-secretary and Shri Lakshmikant Borse – Treasurer.
1) Paryavaran Mela for children
A moot cause to organize a Paryavaran Mela is to increase awareness about environment and its importance in students, which was met
Mahuli Nisarg Seva Nyas, Shahapur organises one day annual event called “Paryavaran Mela ” for students of Standard VI to VIII in the vicinity of Shahapur taluka. Paryavaran Mela is two sessions program, first between 9.30 am to 12.30 am and second between 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. During this event, various competitions like drawing, Street Play, One Minute, Who Am I?, Identify plants, Making of Masks, Greetings and Forts are conducted. During second session, small events like origami, clay modeling art are conducted which give an opportunity to students to exhibit their skills. A book exhibition is also a part of Paryavaran Mela where various books on environment related subjects were displayed for the knowledge of students. Photographs (especially eye-catching close-ups) of various flowers, insects, birds, animals, snakes clicked by members of Nyas were also exhibited at the venue. A magic show was also conducted for entertainment of the participants.
Prizes are in the form of books related to environment were distributed to the winners of various competitions. Certificates were also distributed to all participants. Gifts were also given to the teachers who took initiative and encouraged students to participate in the event.
2) Tree Plantation
Mahuli Nisarg Seva Nyas carry tree plantation programs every year in Shahapur Taluka
3) Nature Trail, Bird watching Camps for children
Mahuli Nisarg Seva Nyas regularly conducts 1 day, 2 day nature trails, Bird watching camps for children.
4) Trekking, hiking in Sahyadri
5) Eco Touris
6) Garbage Management
7) Environment awareness programs
It is the highest point in the Thane district. The forest surrounding Mahuli has been declared as a sanctuary. Once Shahaji Raje, father of Chatrapati ShivajiMaharaj, had this fortress under his belt.
The nearest railway station to Mahuli is Asangaon. One can catch either Asangaon or Kasara Local from Mumbai CST, which could also be caught at Kalyan Junction. 4 km walk from Asangaon station will take you to the base temple in 1-1/2 hours. 3 hours trek will take you to the summit.
The creator of this fort is unknown. In 1485 this place came under rule Nijamshahi dynasty. When Shahaji Raje became the secretary of Nijamshahi, Mughals of Delhi tried to end Nijamshahi. In 1635-36, Shahaji Raje transferred himself with Jijabai and Shivaji to Mahuli. When Khan Jaman attacked the fort, Shahaji asked Portuguese for help, who refused and Shahaji surrendered.
Shivaji took this fort from Mughals on 8 Jan 1658. In 1661 it was given back and was won again by Shivaji. In treaty of Purandar, in 1665, Marathas lost these forts again. In Feb 1670, Shivaji Maharaj tried to conquer Mahuli, but failed, Manohardas Gaud, was the in charge of the fort. A thousand Marathas were killed.Most of them were from nearby villages.Shivaji Maharaj said to his dead kadam sardar he is our gold. So maharaj gave sonare surname to this family. Manohardas Gaud, soon gave up his position and Alveerdi Beg took over. On 16 June 1670, after two months, Moropant Pingle conquered the forts and Mahuli, Bhandargad and Palasgad became part of Swarajya. Till 1817, Shivaji's dynasty owned the fort but later on it was controlled by the British Raj.