Shivneri is known to be a place of Buddhist dominion from the 1st century AD. Its caves, rock-cut architecture and water system indicate the presence of habitation since 1st century AD. Shivneri got its name as it was under the possession of the Yadavas of Devagiri. This fort was mainly used to guard the old trading route from Desh to the port city of Kalyan. The place passed on to the Bahmani Sultanate after the weakening of Delhi Sultanate during the 15th century and it then passed on to the Ahmadnagar Sultanate in the 16th century. In 1595, a Maratha chief named Maloji Bhonsle, the grandfather of Shivaji Bhosale, was enabled by the Ahmadnagar Sultan, Bahadur Nizam Shah and he gave him Shivneri and Chakan. Chatrapati Shivaji was born at the fort on 19 February 1630 (some accounts place it 1627), and spent his childhood there. Inside the fort is a small temple dedicated to the goddess Shivai Devi, after whom Shivaji was named. The English traveller Fraze visited the fort in 1673 and found it invincible. According to his accounts the fort was well-stocked to feed thousand families for seven years. The fort came under the control of the British Rule in 1820 after the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
Shivneri is a hill fort having a triangular shape and has its entrance from the South-west side of the hill. Apart from the main gate there is an entrance to the fort from side called locally as the chain gate, where in one has to hold chains to climb up to the fort gate. The fort extends up to 1 mi (1.6 km) with seven spiral well-defended gates. There are mud walls all around the fort. Inside the fort, the major buildings are the prayer hall, a tomb and a mosque. There is an overhanging where executions took place. There are many gates structures protecting this fort. Mana Daravaja is one of the many gates of the fort. At the centre of the fort is a water pond which is called 'Badami Talav', and to the south of this pond are statues of Jijabai and a young Shivaji. In the fort there are two water springs, called Ganges and Yamuna, which have water throughout the year. Two kilometers away from this fort there are the Lenyadri caves which is one of Ashtavinayak temple in Maharashtra. It has been declared as a protected monument.