Every year,Shivasamarth Pratishthan,a city-based NGO,organises different competitions for the students during the festivals to promote cultural awareness among youth. One of their regular activities is organising fort-making competition during Diwali and which is open to students of all age groups. While every year the NGO rewards the students who make the best forts with cash prize and a trophy,this year,they decided to do something different. Deepak Nagpure,the president of Shivasamarth Pratishthan,elaborates,In addition to rewarding the winners of the competition with trophies,we decided take all the 450 participants to historical Purandar fort for a study tour. We felt that the best way to educate the youth about their heritagewould be by taking them to the fort. Although one can learn from their textbooks or the internet,visiting a fort gives a different experience altogether.”
Purander fort is known to be the birthplace of Sambhaji Maharaj,son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,and is situated in the Western Ghats,which is about little more than an hour-long drive from the city. This day-long trip that was organised on November 24 and was also open to the parents of the children.
22-year-old Mahesh Shinde,who participated in the study tour,says,I was happy that the NGO organised this trip for us. Every bus had a tour guide and a few volunteers from the organisation itself. We were asked to take down notes as they informed us they would be organising a quiz later in the day. It was fun,” says Shinde.
Talking about the reason behind organising the tour,Nagpure says,Despite legislation and awareness campaigns,many forts are constantly defaced with graffiti as visitors leave remarks and profess their love by writing on the walls. We decided to educate the students about the importance of protecting our historical heritage especially forts.
Praj Bhilare,a parent who accompanied his two children,says that his kids were particularly impressed with the stories of Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Maharaj,which were narrated during the tour. Organising this tour was quite an innovative idea. I totally applaud their decision of not giving huge amounts of cash to the winners and instead providing all the participants with an opportunity of his knowledge-filled trip, he says.