The western border of Maharashtra is blessed with a long coastal strip dotted with several bustling beaches and ports. The then rulers erected defence fortifications on the shoreline in order to defend the port towns. A unique feature of many of these forts is that they are set in very picturesque locations with unparalleled architecture. Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing sea forts in Maharashtra.
The fortified area of Sindhudurg comprises 48 acres close to the town of Malvan and is an island about half a kilometre from the shore. Visitors can take a short boat ride to access the fort. The erstwhile ruler of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had built Sindhudurg to protect the region. The ramparts of the fort are 10 meters high and 4 mm thick extending to about 3 km in length. The fort has a single entry gate on the northeast corner located strategically making it difficult for enemies to identify the entrance. Sindhudurg is also the only place with a temple that is dedicated to Shivaji along with a few other temples. While people reside within the fort, the population has been dwindling over time.
Murud Janjira fortress belongs to the 17th century and is located off Rajapuri near Murud. This fort is also known as Janjira fort and belonged to the then rulers from the Siddi clan with roots in Abyssinia. The height of the bastioned ramparts of the fort is 15 meters in the midst of the sea. History says that the fort had as many as 572 cannons always kept ready to fire at any approaching enemy. Some of these cannons can be seen even today. Though most of the structures inside are in ruins, visitors can still identify the meeting hall, school, and the mosque.
Vijaydurg sits on top of a rocky promontory that juts out of the shore. This fort is about 75 km away from Malvan and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. On the southern side, there is a narrow neck that connects the mainland. Defence of this fort was bolstered by Shivaji after he took charge, adding 300 guns, 27 bastions, and three lines of defending walls. The bastions were provided with openings for the cannons and slit holes. The fortified area is 17 acres dotted with the remnants of old structures.
Kolaba Fort sits on a low rocky island close to the Alibag Harbour. The fort is quadrangular in shape and formed the naval headquarters for Kanhoji Angre who was a Maratha General. The basalt walls of the fort were re-enforced with 17 bastions, and 3 of them remain intact to this date. There is a long causeway that leads to the main entrance. Though most of the fort now lies in ruins, the shrines have been renovated and restored.
Underi which is also referred to as Jaidurg represents a fortified island close to the mouth of the Mumbai harbour. It was set up as a companion for the Khanderi fort presently in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The islands of Underi and Khanderi served as landmarks for vessels entering the Mumbai harbour. The Khanderi fort is larger than Underi and was built in 1680 CE by Kahim of the Siddis clan.
Visiting these sea forts in Maharashtra one of a kind experience as it takes you back to the glorious days of Maratha Empire. If you are coming from outside Maharashtra, you can land in Mumbai or Pune and book a Savaari cab to cover all of the above mentioned magnificent places.