NEVER BEND YOUR HEAD. ALWAYS HOLD IT HIGH.~Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Did you know Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is known as the Father of the Indian Navy? The great Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born on 19th February 1630. In 1674 he was formally crowned as Chhatrapati (Paramount sovereign/ emperor) at Raigad fort. He is the pioneer who built India’s first ever navy to protect the coastline of Maharashtra.
Sindhudurg fort is one such marvel built under the guidance of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Sindhudurg district has 37 forts, the highest number of forts in Maharashtra, different types of forts can be found here, for example, Jaldurg (forts build in the sea), Bhuikot (forts built on land), Giri (forts built on the hilltop).
Sindhudurg fort was built by Hiroji Indulkar, the chief architect of the Maratha empire. This fort is built on a small island called Kurte. It was built to control the attacks by Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Siddhis.
The circumference of this fort is 3km, the fort is built on 48 acres of land. For the construction of this fort, lime which is a substance containing calcium and more than 70,000 kilos of iron was used to join huge stone boulders known as Chirebandi. The fort has 52 bastions. The construction of the fort began in 1664 and took three years to complete.
The main entrance of the fort is built strategically, in order to confuse the attackers. The main entrance is made of the toughest type of wood. It is 9 feet in height and 3.5 feet in width.
There is a Dakshin Mukhi hanuman idol near the entrance, and a palm impression of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is inside the fort to the right after entering the premises.
Further ahead is a Nagarkhana, which was built by Shahu Maharaj where drums were played at important naval events. Among the two bastions, the left one is 20 feet in height and the right one is 40 feet in height. To control the force of heavy waves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj constructed 3 mighty defense walls parallel to the foundation of the fort.
The zigzag defense wall of the fort is between eight and ten feet in width. To maneuver the fort and war materials two subsidiary fortresses were built to the south of the entrance. Two watch towers were constructed within a distance of half a mile.
Even though Kurte island is a rocky area surrounded by sea on all sides, there are four sweet water wells on the fort. Three of which are known as dudh bav (milk well), Dahi bav (curd well), and Sakhar bav (sugar well). It is not less than a miracle to have sweet water wells on a fort surrounded by salt water.
More than a dozen water closets are provided for the use of people who live on the fort. Also, for the safety of the residents during the rainy season, the slope of the inner floor in the fort is inclined towards the defense wall.
There are 50 feet watch tower in the south of the fort and also a flag post stand. During the old days, the flag was hoisted at the height of 228 feet, this concept was entirely given by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and it was executed under the supervision of Hiroji indulkar.
During the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, there were about 150 houses inside the fort. On the western side of the fort is a dungeon for prisoners.
There are three temples Inside the fort, Jari Mari temple, Shri Bhavani temple and further is a temple dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj which is named Shri Shiv Rajeshwar temple, where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is worshipped as a deity.
There are small stalls and shops on the fort, which provide refreshments and snacks.
I had goosebumps on every tiny detail our guide provided us. It was like walking and living through history that happened decades ago. I would suggest you please hire a guide. It is a basic investment to know first-hand history from the locals.
The fort remains closed during monsoon, the best period to visit is from September to March.
A short boat ride will take you to Sindhudurg fort. You need to buy a ticket from the Malvan jetty, the ticket approximately costs 90rs.
From my personal experience, I can confidently tell you, that I have learned a lot from traveling than actually studying history under the four walls of my class. Next time you are around Malvan please visit this historical gem. Let your kids know how much effort was taken to put together this fort so that our coasts can be secured. Please don’t litter and if you see someone doing so stop them immediately. It’s our responsibility to keep our historical gems clean and green.