Sindhudurg – The Sea Fort

I recently visited a small village called Tarkali, situated on the coasts of The Arabian Sea in the State of Maharashtra. Apart from the beautiful beach, this places offers an architectural beauty Sidhudurg Fort which is situated towards the north of Tarkali.

Sindhudurg, literally meaning Fort in the sea was built on a rocky island , just off the coast of Malvan, Maharashtra. This ancient fortress was built by Chattrapati Shivaji during the 16th century and is spread over 48 acres with a 3 km long rampart. The construction of this fortress indicates the strategic brilliance and foresightedness of King Shivaji, who made this to counter the rising influence of foreign colonizers (The English, Dutch, French and Portuguese merchants).

Chandralekha-scariest ferry ride with 20 people

A 15 minute ferry ride from the boat jetty in Malvan to Khurte Island costs Rs.50/- per person. Note of caution: be prepared to rock the waves in an overcrowded ferry with no life jackets, you might skip a beat inbetween. As you approach the fort, the gigantic structure looks like a battleship with waves of the Arabian Sea crashing all over the walls. This imposing citadel was built in 1664 and took 3 years to be completed under the supervision of Hiroji Indulkar.

Some data from the internet along with the stories shared by locals there, brought forth many interesting facts regarding the construction of the fort. The idea of making a fort on an island to keep the enemies at bay and to fortify the defence in the coastal area was in itself was incredible. Then came the engineering part of it … Considering the direction of wind and rain forces, work started but collapsed, after which 181.5 kgs of lead was used in the castings and foundation of the walls. There was usage of lime in layers between each boulder to intensify the toughness of the walls and the heights of the walls were raised depending on the strength of the winds. The walls of the fort are 9.1 m high and 3.7 m thick and the total circumference of the fort is about 4 km.

Entry to the fort

Next in line were the strategies used while planning the construction. The entry to the fort was so inconspicuous that no one would know the entrance from outside making it a difficult task for the enemies.

There were 42 bastions over the towering 30 feet walls and to beat the force of the waves, King Shivaji had constructed 3 mighty defence walls parallel to the foundation of fort. They say there was also a secret tunnel underneath one of the temples which led to a nearby village under the sea, to ensure escape during emergencies.

Despite being surrounded by  the sea there are four sweet water wells in the fort( nature’s miracle). Three of them are known as Dudh Bav (Milk Well), Dahi Bav (Curd Well) & Sakhar Bav (Sugar well). There are several temples inside the complex but one of them is very unique as its has an idol of King Shivaji without beard & moustache. This is one of its type found all over the country and was created by his son King Rajaram. Another prized relic found here is the foot and hand imprints of Chhatrapati Shivaji, preserved in a slab of dry lime on one of the turrets above the entrance.

As I climbed up the steep stairs and stood at the top of the fort viewing the sea, the sense of awe settled in. Examining the turrets which were used to fire cannons and rifles , unfolded the revolutionary mind-set of its engineer. The breeze was so strong that I was getting unstable at times, so imagine the strength of this fort, which stood against such strong winds for the past 351 years?

View atop the fort

Outlets from where soldier fired

The mighty defense walls

how soldiers kept an eye on approaching enemies

Turrets for canons

Steep Stairs

Temple at the entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robust structure weathering wind,rain & sea

View of the vastness of the sea from the tiny opening   

Pride

another angle of the fort

Kokum drink- Cooler

I would have spent some more time inside the fort and also on the Island but unfortunately we were allowed only an hour in the island. Despite being winters, it was hot and on our way back we had fresh Kokum juice to quench thirst and returned to the jetty where our boat Chandralekha waited for us. The ride back was equally scary but this time my mind was engrossed with the thoughts about the fort and its architectural beauty.

still standing tall

It saddened me to see such a historic structure in a dilapidated condition. Although it has been declared as a protected monument, yet it is in ruins. This structure from the glorified past owes a little more respect by the Government authorities in maintaining it.

 

 

“Don’t let the mind limit ,what an able heart can do” – ROBERT M.HENSEL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *