Shivneri, Rajmachi, Korlai, Janjira, Lohagad; these are just some of the forts that stand resolute across the state of Maharashtra. The state, in fact, has the highest number of forts in India with more than 350 on count. Built by the most legendary dynasties that once ruled India, Maharashtra’s forts stand tall and evidence of the political importance of this region across centuries. These forts, which now stand silent, have seen plenty of war and still stand strong despite facing the harsh rains and sun for centuries, on both land and water. The sea forts of Maharashtra are a visual spectacle in their own way. They stand tall, with their large stone walls rising above the angry ocean waters above them and breaking the flatness of the unending horizon with their silhouette. Here is a look at five of the most majestic sea forts in Maharasthra. Also Read - Centre Mulls Extending Nationwide Lockdown as COVID-19 Cases Near 5000-mark With 124 Deaths | Top Developments
In the small town of Devgad within the Konkan district of Sindhudurg lies a namesake sea fort whose name literally translates to “sea fort”. The Sindhudurg fort is among the most massive and best-kept forts of the Maratha empire, and for good reason. Its foundations were laid with molten lead, ensuring that the sea would not consume it over the centuries. The fort stretches across the 44-acre Kurute island, and its size made it an instant choice as the headquarters of the Maratha Empire’s naval fleet. The fort was built by Shivaji himself, in 1664 CE, and shares its architecture with the nearby twin fort of Vijaydurg. The fort is said to have secret passages to the coast, and it also has the only temple that worships Shivaji. ALSO READ: 8 historic forts of Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtra for trekkers! Also Read - Coronavirus in Gujarat: 14-month-old Toddler Dies of COVID-19 in Jamnagar
Murud Janjira Fort, Photograph courtesy: Ishan Manjrekar/Creative Commons
A little closer to Maharashtra lies Murud-Janjira, just off the coast of the town of Murud. The fort is located around 60 km from the more popular weekend destination and beach town of Alibaug, and traces its roots back to the 15th century. Built under the Islamic rulers of Ahmadnagar, the Murud-Janjira fort stands out on the horizon from the Murud beach, grabbing the attention of every visitor. Murud is also close to the beach resort towns of Nandgaon and Kashid, and ferries are available to take you to the fort. Murud-Janjira is, in fact, among the more popular sea forts in Mahashtra, and was among the strongest forts in the region, staying strong against the attacks of invaders as well as the sun, sea and tides. Also Read - New York Leads Coronavirus Death Toll With 731 Fatalties in 24 Hours
The twin fort of Sindhudurg deserves an entry of its own for its historical prominence. It is said that Vijaydurg was among the few places where Shivaji hoisted the saffron flag of his kingdom upon the founding the Maratha Empire. Surrounded by the sea on all sides, Vijaydurg also has an underground tunnel that took you to the coast. Built during the reign of Raja Bhoja II, Shivaji captured the fort in 1653 and gave it its current name. The fort was famous, or infamous depending on which side you are on, for being nearly impregnable. Its high walls and bastions blocked enemy attacks, and the shallow creek prevented large ships from coming closer while also giving shelter to Maratha warships. The fort remains a sight to behold, and is now easily reachable since being connected by road built on reclaimed land. ALSO READ: Coolest places in Maharashtra to escape the heat
Underi and its sister fort Khanderi were key fortifications in the Maratha defence against the Siddi and British during the 17th century. Around 400 years later, the walls of these two forts stand as they were, unaffected by the sea that surrounds them. Both forts were built on islands off the coast of Thal, near Alibaug. While the Siddis managed to take over the Underi fort at one point, Khanderi remains strong, serving as a base from which the two sides fought numerous skirmishes. Located near the Mumbai harbour, these two forts were crucial defences and remain favourites for tourists from Alibaug nearby. With no ferry or boat service, however, Underi is accessible only when the tide is low enough to open a land route to the fort.
Closer to Alibaug, around 1-2 kilometres away into the sea, lies the small yet imposing Kolaba Fort. Also known as Alibaug Fort, it has stood for three centuries and holds special significance with the British Raj era. The fort rises around 25 feet above the sea in some places and was among the Shivaji’s most important naval stations during the Maratha Empire. Despite being surrounded by the sea on all sides, Kolaba Fort has a freshwater well that was crucial to running it during its heyday. It was used in the 1700s to raid British ships en-route to and from Mumbai under the reign of Kanhoji Agre, and was only taken over in 1842. While you can walk to the fort in low tides, high tides require a short boat ride.
Suvarnadurg Fort, Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Although it is the smallest sea fort in this list, Suvarnadurg Fort is not to be sidelined. The fort is said to have been constructed during the reign of the Bijapur empire in the 17th century. It became among the many forts that Shivaji captured, and it operated under the reign of the Maratha Peshwas until 1818. Although it may be dwarfed by larger forts like Sindhudurg, Suvarnadurg Fort has its own majesty, with its large stone blocks and tall bastions that rise around it. In fact, its name translates to ‘Golden Fort’, suggesting its significance. The fort was built for defence and ship-building, and is closely associated with the nearby land fort of Kanakadurg. Access to this fort is only by boats from the nearby Harnai port. ALSO READ: 8 best monsoon treks in Maharashtra
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