Pune: In an ambitious plan to restore the old glory of some of the 16th century forts which are mute witness to the exploits of Maratha warrior king Shivaji, the Maharashtra Archaeology department is to spend Rs 4.5 crore, also hoping in the process to boost the state tourism.

The three historical forts being shortlisted for the restoration and developmental work are Sinhgad, Torna and Vishalgad, all of which tell stories of Shivaji's fight against the Moghul emperors and house many memorials raised to pay tributes to his knights who displayed exceptional acts of bravery in the battles fought on treacherous passes and terrains.

"As per the fort restoration plan under consideration of the Tourism and Cultural department ,an amount of Rs 1.5 core will be spent on each of these forts with the involvement of Maharashtra State Tourism Corporation (MTDC) ", according to Venkatesh Kamble, assistant director, State Archaelogy department.

Thousands of visitors frequent these forts every day but not much has been done to preserve the heritage sites of these forts suffering from ravages of time and the state Archaelogy department's initiative is expected to give a fillip to efforts for their repairs and restoration.

"The state tourism department has also carried out a survey of these three forts to work out details of the projects that needs to be undertaken to provide proper access roads and amenities to the visitors to increase their number", Kamble said.

The restoration projects are expected to be completed within two years starting 2012 as per the plan. The restoration plan for Sinhagad envisages priority work on two main routes going through Kondhanpur -- Kalyan Darwaja and Pune Darwaza which are in bad shape and broken into pieces.

The Archaelogy department officials would also be assessing the damage the fortification wall of this fort is likely to suffer due to the trees that have grown along with it with the roots weakening the structure.

"Zhunzaar Buruj" --- a Watch Tower--- on the South East side of Sinhagad fort, visited by groups of adverture-minded tourists as well as various broken railings too would be repaired and restored to enhance the safety aspect.

Another historical fort on the restoration list "Torna", located around 50 km from here, will have an improved look with the planned repairs of two main gates called "Binicha Darwaja" and "Konkan Darwaja".

In addition to the fort restoration drive, the State Archaelogy department is also considering offering about 35 historical monuments for adoption by private enterprises to ensure proper maintenance and develop the tourist potential around these spots.

"One such project being considered is adoption of 'Kuyarigad' (fort) near Lonaval for which the Sahara group which has the Amby valley project in the vicinity, has shown interest," Kamble added.

(Agencies)