Page:Shivaji and His Times.djvu/27

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


of which, as well as detached portions on insulated hills, form natural fortresses, where the only labour required is to get access to the level space, which generally lies on the summit. Various princes at different times have cut flights of steps or winding roads up the rocks, fortified the entrance with a succession of gateways, and erected towers to command the approaches; and thus studded the whole of the region about the Ghats and their branches with forts." "In many of them there are springs of the finest water, and in all a supply can be secured, in tanks or reservoirs, during the periodical rains from May to October." The soft trap dissolving has exposed the hard basalt in steep scarped precipices and smooth tops, which form natural forts.*[1]

§3. Poverty, simplicity and equality of society.

In such a country no man can afford to lead a sheltered life. There was no parasite class in ancient Maharashtra. Even the village headmen, who neither sowed nor spun, had to work as collectors of revenue, local judges and parochial policemen, to earn the fee on which they lived. There was hardly a rich man, except the trader who was also the only banker of this primitive society. Even the landlords were rich rather in grain-heaps and armed retainers than in gold and

  1. * Elphinstone's History, 6th ed. 615. Duff. i. 7. Bom. Gaz., xviii. pt. 1, pp. 9-10 ; xix. 16.