Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 24 : Kille Makarandgad किल्ले मकरंदगड


Location:
Hatlot, Tal. Mahabaleshwar Dist. Satara
Altitude 1236m. Hill fort.

Things to see:
The fort is also known as Madhu Makarandgad as it is believed to be consisting of two different forts Madhu and Makarandgad respectively. The peak of the mountain known as Madhu Shikhar which is the main attraction point. It has and forms a boundary between the districts of Ratnagiri, Raigad and Satara. There are temples of Bhairoba and Mallikarjun on the top of the hill. The top provides the views of Mahabaleshwar and Pratapgad on the North Eastern side and forts of Rasalgad, Sumargad and Mahipatgad on the eastern side. The fort is surrounded by the famous forest of Javli. The fort also provides view of backwaters of Koyna and Shivsagar dams. On the eastern side of the fort there is one water cistern in the cave.


Past:
Not much is known about its past but it might have been used as a watch post for tracking movements on the route of Hatlot pass and surrounding region of Maharbaleshwar.

Present:
Not much of earlier fortification is now present except some at south western corner. The way to the fort is covered with dense forest teeming with wild life and also includes Wild buffaloes and Bears. There is also danger of leeches which are blood sucking parasites present in the jungle.

Nearby attractions:
Nil.

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,
The fort can be accessed from two villages viz. Hatlot and Chaturbet. From both the villages one requires a hike of approximately three hours. However route from Hatlot is steep and that from Chaturbet is comparatively gradual. There is one more village Ghonaspur which is on the shoulder of the hill of Makarandgad and on the route from Chaturbet.
From Konkan side of the fort the trekkers can combine climb of Hatlot ghat which is an ancient route joining Konkan with plateu of Western Maharashtra. It starts from Birmani in Khed taluka. It requires three hours to reach Hatlot village from Birmani. There is another tougher trekking route from Birmani called Kondnal.
Mumbai
Mahad
Khed Birmani
Trek for 5 hours via Hatlotghat/ Kondnal to Makarandgad
Goa
Chiplun
Mumbai/ Pune/ Kolhapur
Mahabaleshwar
Chaturbet
Trek for three hours to Makarandgad

By public transport:
Reach Mahabaleshwar which is connected by direct ST buses from Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Goa. Hatlot and Chaturbet are connected by ST buses from Mahabaleshwar. For taking Hatlotghat route from Konkan side reach Khed which is connected by direct ST buses from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. From Goa, Khed can be reached by direct trains or getting off ST or Private buses by Chiplun and taking a bus for Khed. Birmani is connected by ST buses to Khed.

Nearby Places for stay:
Mahabaleshwar, Khed, camping on the Makarandgad or base villages of Birmani and Ghonaspur is possible.

Forts of Konkan 23 : Terekhol Fort तेरेखोलचा किल्ला


Location:
Terekhol, Northern Goa (sometimes also spelled as Tiracol due to Portuguese influence on the Goan side.)
Seaside fort

Things to see:
Terekhol fort provides views of confluence of Terekhol river and Arabian sea as it located at the end of the creek. There are remains of the fort such as walls and bastions which are constructed in Portuguese and Maratha style. A church of St. Anthony's is also there inside the fort.

Past:
The fort was first built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle of Sawantwadi in 17th century. It was later on captured by Portuguese viceroy of Goa, Dom Peidro Miguel de Almeida in the year 1764. However the fort officially became part of their territory in the year 1788. The fort was used for an unsuccessful armed rebellion against Portuguese government by Dr. Bernardo Peres da Silva who was of Goan descend. Later during 1950's and 1960's the fort was also captured for sometime by the Goa Mukti Andolan activists.

Present:
The fort is now converted into a heritage hotel and entry into the fort is regulated by Goa government. They allow only a few people at a time. One may have to wait very long to get an entry into the fort. The St. Anthony's church inside the fort is open to the general public on some occasions.

Nearby attractions:
Querim beach, Manganese mines in neighbouring Redi Kanyal villages, Temples in Redi viz. Navdurga, Mauli and Swayambhu Ganapati. One can also visit Yashwantgad in Redi.

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,

Mumbai
Chiplun
Kudal Vengurla
Redi Kanyal Terekhol
Pune
Kolhapur
Goa
Aronda (via Pernem, Kiranpani)

By public transport:
Reach Sawantwadi which is connected to Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Goa with direct ST and private buses. It is also connected with trains to Mumbai and Goa. From there on reach Redi Kanyal and/ or Terekhol by ST buses. There are also direct buses available from Vengurla. There is one direct ST bus for Redi from Mumbai. While coming from Goa one has to reach Querim which is connected by direct buses to Pernem, Mapusa and Panaji. Querim and Terekhol are connected by ferry boat service across creek.

Nearby Places for stay:
Goa, Vengurla, Sawantwadi, some resorts and homestays available near Redi and Shiroda.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 22 : Bandra Fort वांद्र्याचा किल्ला


Location:
Bandra, Mumbai Suburb.
Seaside fort

Things to see:

The fort is situated on a high ground on the southern tip of Bandra suburb which is known as Land's End. There is one small garden around the fort and also a small amphitheatre inside the garden. One can see views of Mahim and Worli which are in the south from this point. In the west one can enjoy the expanse of sea. From other directions views are blocked by buildings and hillock on which the fort is standing. The fort location offers beautiful view of Bandra Worli sea link. There are some stone inscriptions in Portuguese on some of the walls and entrances of the fort.

Past:

The fort was first built by Portuguese in the year during 1500's and later on strengthened. They ruled this area called Sashti upto 1739 before getting defeated by Marathas. They used this fort for protecting entry to Mumbai from Northern end. The name of the port was Castella de Aguada meaning Fort of the Waterpoint as there was one stream of water near the fort which was used for providing water to the ships coming to the Bandra port. There was big estuary near Bandra which has been reclaimed now for construction and has lost its importance as port. The fort had 7 canons and some other guns. Twenty two years after winning it from Portuguese, Marathas had to give up this area to the British as part of the treaty signed in First Anglo Maratha war in 1661. British destroyed large parts of the fort afterwards as they feared that Marathas will capture it again and keep on threatening them. British gave large parts of this area to Byramjee Jeejeebhoy in 1930 who later on developed this area. The local resident's committee of Bandra Band Stand did necessary efforts for restoration of the fort by successfully involving Member of Parliaments, government departments and private businesses.

The inscription on this gate say that this bastion was made in the name of God in the year 1640. The language is Portuguese.

Present:
The fort is in very good condition although it has lost many of its earlier features especially the big estuary which it protected. After restoration the structure has been strengthened but because of the cement used in the process one find its difficult to appreciate that it is really a very old structure. It is used many times for shooting Bollywood movies which include Dil Chahta Hai, Buddha Mil Gaya, Jaane Tu etc.

Nearby attractions:
Saint Mary Church, Bandra Reclamation Ground hosts many exhibitions.

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,

Reach from Borivali to Bandra by Western Express Highway. While coming from Thane and Eastern side of the Mumbai city one has to reach Bandra via Sion and Dharavi. Come to the western side of the Bandra on the fly over bridge crossing Mahim creek and railway line from Western Express Highway. While coming from Mumbai city one has to reach Mahim and then reach Bandra. From there onwards using the bridge going to Bandra band stand and reclamation one can reach Bandra Fort.

By public transport:
Reach western side of Bandra suburban railway station by trains or convenient BEST buses. Then catch buses going to
Otherwise autorikshaw can also be hired from the western side of the station.

Nearby Places for stay:
Mumbai

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 21 : Korlai Fort कोरलईचा किल्ला


Location:
Korlai, Tal. Mururd, Dist. Raigad
Altitude 90 m.

Things to see:
The fort is located on a high hill which protrudes into the sea and connected to the mainland by a narrow strip. At this location Kundalika river meets the Arabian sea. The location gives a beautiful view of Kundalika river in the east and the sea to the west. One can see forts of Kulaba, Khanderi and Underi from here in the North. There are some temples on the fort which were built during Maratha rule. The fort has total of 11 gates, four of which are outer. A water cistern called Santa Cruz is located at the north point. There are some inscriptions on some of the entrances which are in Portuguese. In the highest part of the fort there is one church and ruins of a magazine (store house for ammunition). There are 17 canons on the forts placed at various strategic location.

Past:
The fort of Korali was built by Nizam of Ahmednagar who controlled this area in 1590. Portuguese attacked this fort and captured it in the year 1594 as Nizam broke the peace treaty by building the fort over Korlai rocks. In 1684 Sambhaji Maharaj made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort. The portuguese lost this area to Marathas in 1740 and they withdrew completely from this area after losing the battle of Vasai. The village of Korlai has some of its population having mixed Portuguese- Konkani ethnicity and they are catholic Christians who speak a language called Kristi, which evolved due to mixture of native North Konkani dialect and Portuguese.

Present:
The fort is in good condition despite passage of time with negligence. Many trees have started growing on the walls of the forts. There is one lighthouse on the hill of Korlai fort.

Nearby attractions:


How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,
Mumbai
Pen
Alibaug Chaul Revdanda
Korlai
Pune
Kolhapur
Karad
Chiplun Mahad Roha
Goa
Rajapur

By public transport:
Korlai is connected by ST buses to Alibaug, Murud and Roha. From Mumbai and Pune catch ST buses going to Murud and get down at Korlai. While coming from Kolhapur come to Roha by direct ST buses and then reach Korlai. For coming from the south of Konkan and Goa, one has to reach Roha by getting down at Kolad on highway or reach Roha by train and then by ST bus one can go to Korlai. From Korlai village one needs to walk for 30 minutes to reach the fort.

Nearby Places for stay:
Roha, Murud, Alibaug. Many homestays and sea resorts are available in nearby villages of Chaul, Revdanda and Kashid.

Forts of Konkan 20 : Ghodbundar Fort घोडबंदरचा किल्ला


Location:
Ghodbunder, Tal. Dist. Thane
Altitude 50 m.

Things to see:
The fort is situated on a high ground near Ulhas or famous Vasai creek. There are many modern beautiful bunglows near the fort, some of them also have resorts. It provides a view of the creek, Bhaindar town, salt pans and huge mass of Kharlands which was earlier full of productive rice paddies. Fort has one water tank which is now filled with debris.

Past:
The fort was first constructed by Portuguese when they lost it to Marathas in 1737 during the war of Vasai. Peshavas further strengthened the fort. The British took it over in 1818 after fall of Maratha power.

Present:
The fort is in the stage of crumbling as many trees have grown up on the walls. There are plans with government to restore the site and make it into a tourist destination. The site is sometimes used by Bollywood film industry for shooting of films which include films like Agneepath, Nagin, Paanch Qaidi etc.

Nearby attractions:
-

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,
Mumbai
Kashimira
(By Mumbai Ahmedabad NH-8)
Ghodbunder VillageFort
Pune/ Goa
Thane
(By Thane- Ghodbunder SH-42)
The fort is approximately 1 km from the village.

By public transport:
Reach Ghodbunder by ST buses shuttling between Thane/ Bhivandi- Borivali/ Bhaindar or TMT buses shuttling between Thane- Mira Road. One has to walk for 3 km from highway to the fort or take Autorikshaw if is available.

Nearby Places for stay:
There is one MTDC rest house near Ghodbunder fort and also some other resorts. Other convenient places for stay are Mumbai, Bhaindar and Thane.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 19 : Kille Mahipatgad किल्ले महीपतगड


Location:
Wadi Beldar, Tal. Khed, Dist. Ratnagiri
Altitude 960 m.

Things to see:
The fort is located in the Northern end of hill range that spans in the North South direction and runs parallel to the Sahyadris. The fort is spread on 200 acres of land on the top of the hill. There is one Pareshwar Mahadev temple on the fort, in front of which there is small lake. Some remnants of old buildings dot the land. At some locations there are big heaps of morter used in the construction from old times. There entrances to the fort from five sides out of which currently western entrance is in use. There is origin of a small rivulet named Shivganga to the western side. One can view in East, Pratapgad, Makarandgad and Mahabaleshwar. In the north Raigad can also be seen.

Past:
The fort is named after Mahipat who built this fort. Due its huge area, the fort was given consideration by Shivaji's spiritual guru Ramdas Swami to make it as his permanent base but he later on rejected and preferred the fort of Sajjangad near Satara. Some also say that Shivaji has started to strengthen the fort but later on left it halfway. The story is based on the occurrence of heaps of mortar found on the fort. It might have been inhabited by some Christian people as some Christion tombs are found on this fort. Not much is known about its history in hard proof..

Present:
The fort is in ruins. Some study of this location may throw some light on the history especially of the period of Shivaji.

Nearby attractions:
Trekkers can visit Sumargad, Makarandgad and Hatlot ghat.

How to reach:

By your own vehicles follow this route,
Mumbai
Mahad
Khed Dahivali Wadi BeldarMahipatgad fort.
Pune
Kolhapur
Karad
Chiplun
Goa
Rajapur
The uphill climb from Wadi Beldar is for 2.5 hours.

By Public Transport,
Khed can be reached by direct ST buses from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. While coming from Goa, one has to get down at Chiplun or Bharane Naka on the highway and then come to Khed. Khed is also connected by train to Mumbai and Goa. Catch ST bus from Khed to Dahivali. One has to climb for 4 hours from the village to the fort.

Nearby Places for stay:
Khed, Camping on Mahipatgad is possible.

Forts of Konkan 18 : Kille Sumargad किल्ले सुमारगड


Location:
Off Mahipatgad or Rasalgad, Tal. Khed, Dist. Ratnagiri
Altitude 883 m.

Things to see:
The fort is located in the middle of hill range that spans in the North South direction and runs parallel to the Sahyadris. Due to its difficulty in access, height and tough climb only experience mountain trekkers can reach at this fort. It has straight rock surfaces on all the sides of the fort and the way to the fort requires some rock climbing to reach to the fort which is located on the summit. There are some water cisterns on the fort. In one of the cistern there is a Shivalinga and idol of goddesses Bhairibhavani, Zolai, Vaghjai and Navlai in one cave. The fort provides views of Sahyadri forts in the east which includes forts of Vasota and Makarandgad. In the west one can see mid Sahyadri or Valati forts of Palgad and Mandangad.

Past:
Not much is known about its past. Villagers say that earlier there a festival was held in this fort in the memory of Goddess but after an accident in which two villagers fell off the cliffs while balancing the pole, the festival was shifter to Rasalgad.

Present:
The fort is visited only by trekkers these days and gone into obscurity. The path to the fort is not in regular use and local guidance is required to reach the fort.

Nearby attractions:
It can be visited while trekking for Mahipatgad or Rasalgad.

How to reach:
It can be reached by the hill routes from Mahipatgad (2.5 hours of walk) or Rasalgad (4.5 hours of walk). There is little habitation near to this fort. For guidance to reach Mahipatgad click here. For guidance to reach Rasalgad click here.

Nearby Places for stay:
Khed, Camping on Mahipatgad or Rasalgad

Forts of Konkan 17 : Kille Rasalgad किल्ले रसाळगड


Location:
Rasalgadwadi, Tal. Khed, Dist. Ratnagiri
Altitude 535m.

Things to see:
The fort is located on southern tip of a hill range that spans in the North South direction and runs parallel to the Sahyadris. Out of the three forts situated on this range, only Rasalgad has easy reach. The fort is spread on an area of 5 acres. The fort has temples of two goddesses Solai and Waghai which have many carvings on them. On the North Western side of the fort there is one old structures and a water tank on which there is one stone inscription on the water tank. In the same corner is citadel which has a storehouse and palace. In the southern part there is one water tank in the cave having four pillars. There are canons on some bastions of the fort. There is one big stone lamp post or Deepamal. There is also one rare stone sculpture of Hanuman at the entrance.

Past:
The fort has been developed somewhere in ancient times. The known history of the fort starts from the time of Shivaji when it was first in the territory of More of Javli from whom Shivaji won this fort. Afterwards the fort changed hands from Peshawas to British in 1818.

Present:
In 2003, Rasalgad was declared as a protected monument by Archaeological Survey of India. Some restoration work has been done by the department in the fort but there are complaints about the original structures being damanged and lack of aesthetics in the work.

Nearby attractions:
Trekkers can visit Sumargad and Mahipatgad

How to reach:
With your own vehicles
Following routes should be followed for reaching
Mumbai
Mahad
Khed Tale RasalgadwadiRasalgad fort.
Pune
Kolhapur
Karad
Chiplun
Goa
Rajapur

With Public transport:
Khed can be reached by direct ST buses from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. While coming from Goa, one has to get down at Chiplun or Bharane Naka on the highway and then come to Khed. Khed is also connected by train to Mumbai and Goa. Catch ST bus from Khed to Rasalgadwadi. One has to climb for 1 hour from the village to the fort.

Nearby Places for stay:
Khed, Camping is possible in the fort.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 16 : Kille Palgad किल्ले पालगड


Location:
Palgad, Tal. Dapoli, Dist. Ratnagiri, Altitude 405 m. climb 300m.

Things to see:
It is one of the rear mid hill forts in the Ratnagiri district. The fort offers beautiful view of Sahyadri ranges and its offshoots descending towards west. It forms a boundary between Dapoli taluka in the west and Khed Taluka in the east. There is dense forest on the western side of the hill whereas beautifully carved rice terrraces in the east. The way at the entrance to the fort is carved out of rock. There are some remnants of the old buildings and two canons. There is one well which has no water in it.

Past:
The village at the western base of the hill was earlier known as Palil. The summit of the hill is shaped like a lizard for which Marathi word is Pal. Therefore the fort was named as Palgad. The village changed its name from Palil to Palgad being close to the fort as time went by. The Palgad was a major market place for the surrounding villages in the past. The fort is said to have been constructed during the reign of Shivaji and then was under the control of Peshavas. It came under British control subsequently.

Present:
The fort has little of the structure remained from the past. The dense forest on the western end is believed to be having some spirits and makes the person who goes up the fort through those to forget his way back. The phenomenon is known as Chakwa in the local language. It is better to have a local guide or get the directions correctly while climbing the hill from Palgad village. Alternatively one can climb it from Eastern side from hamlet of Kadamwadi which is a hamlet of the village Jamge in the Khed taluka.
Nearby attractions:
Sane Guruji, a famous Gandian and freedom fighter was born in the village of Palgad and a memorial has been developed in the village.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles
Following routes should be followed for reaching
Mumbai/ Pune
Mangaon Ambet Mandangad
Palgad
Kolhapur
Karad
Chiplun Khed
Goa
Rajapur

With Public transport:
Palgad is connected by direct ST buses from Mumbai and Pune. Catch the buses for Dapoli from these locations and one can get down at Palgad which is about 18 km ahead of Dapoli. While coming from Kolhapur and Goa, one has to reach Chiplun or Khed and then take bus for Palgad which falls on Khed Mandangad route.

Nearby Places for stay:
Dapoli, Khed.

Forts of Konkan 15 : Kille Pranaladurg किल्ले प्रणालदुर्ग


Location:
Panhalekaji, Tal. Dapoli, Dist. Ratnagiri

Things to see:
The site is more famous for its caves which are of Buddhist and Hindu tradition. However theres is also a small fort which is situated on confluence of two small rivers called as Dhakti Kotjai and Thorli Kotjai. There are two water tanks in the fort. There is temple of village deity Goddess Zolai in the fort.

Past:
The fort is from the period of Shilahar dynasty and the area along with the fort was developed during 12th century when Shilahar King Aparaditya faught and won control over this area from Kadamba dynasty in 1127. The history of the area came into light in 1970 when a copper plate was found by a local farmer named Keshavrao Jadhav. The credit for finding those caves and developing this area goes to Anna Shirgaonkar from Dabhol until that time the caves were under huge pile of soil and rocks fallen on them.

Present:
The fort is very small and not much developed. Some walls of the fort exist. Since the fort is from ancient times and gone into neglect as the area lost its importance during further Muslim period not much of construction has happened at this place. However some more research will definitely prove useful for unearthing this area and fort which stand from ancient times. Especially trade and Buddhist and Hindu traditions in the area in the past.

Nearby attractions:
One can visit Dabhol village which is a port of historical importance. At Unhavare there are hot water springs.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles
Following routes should be followed for reaching
Mumbai
MangaonAmbet
Dapoli Panhalekaji
Pune
Kolhapur
ChiplunKhed
Goa

With Public transport:
Direct ST buses are available for Dapoli from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. While coming from Goa one has to reach Chiplun and then take ST buses for Dapoli. From Dapoli there daily two or three buses to Panhalekaji. Otherwise one can go to Pangari which is on the other side of the river and has more number of buses approximately 7-8. From Pangari one has to walk to Panhalekaji (about 2 km).

Nearby Places for stay:
Dapoli, some resorts near Dabhol.

Forts of Konkan 14: Kille Yashwantgad (Redi) किल्ले यशवंतगड (रेडी)


Location:
Redi, Tal. Vengurla, Dist. Sindhudurg.

Things to see:
It is a sea side fort constructed on a high ground. The fort is all constructed from laterite rocks which are available in the area. There is one elephant carved out of these rocks in this fort. There is also one stand post for the flag carved out in the stone. There is one main external wall structure and inside there is citadel. The total area is 25 acres. There are various structures some of which are multistory. These structures are palace, accommodation for soldiers, granary etc. There is also trench around the fort.

Past:
The fort was first developed during the period of rule of Vijayanagara Kingdom over this area. Redi as it is presently known was a port town of high importance and was known as Revatidweep. During that period the fort was surrounded on all the sides by water of creeks and sea. The main entry to the fort could be done from the sea. To increase the population around the fort one of the ruler constructed an earthen embankment to stop the ingress of the water. The fort changed hands from Vijayanagar to Bijapur sultanate, Shivaji, Sawantwadi state and then to the British. In 1890, British government sold the land inside to the local people however the kept the ownership of the wall with the government.

Present:
The fort is in crumbling state. There were some plans to convert this location into a heritage hotel which has not materialised yet. According to local newspapers many foreign tourists from Goa visit this site and use it for the illegal drug trade and parties.

Nearby attractions:
Shri Mauli and Shri Navadurga temples in Redi village. The area has many Manganese mines which are under ownership of Tata Metallics but can be seen from the road. There is also one Ganapati temple in the village. One can also visit nearby fort of Terekhol and villages of Shiroda and Aravali.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles
Following routes should be followed for reaching Redi and Yashvantgad
Mumbai
Chiplun
Kudal Vengurla
Redi Yashwantgad
Pune
Kolhapur
Goa
Aronda (via Pedne- Kiranpani Bridge)

With Public transport:
Reach Sawantwadi which is connected to Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Goa with direct ST and private buses. It is also connected with trains to Mumbai and Goa. From there on reach Redi by ST buses. There are also buses available from Vengurla. There is one direct ST bus for Redi from Mumbai

Nearby Places for stay:
Vengurla, Sawantwadi, resorts and homestays available in Redi and Shiroda

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 13: Kille Suvarnadurga किल्ले सुवर्णदुर्ग


Location:
Harnai, Tal. Dapoli, Dist. Ratnagiri

Things to see:
The fort is situated on a small rocky island located about 1.5 km off the main land. The fort is a one of the group of forts in Harnai which has been an important port on Arabian sea since hundreds of years. Other forts are on the mainland and named Kanakdurga, Fattegad and Goa Killa (no relation to the state of Goa). Kanakdurg has a lighthouse. The fort has two entrances, one is Mahadarwaja which is main entrance facing the land i.e. towards east. Other entrance is called Chor darvaja which means escape or secret entry which is towards the west. There are some carvings on the entrances which include those of Hanuman and a turtle.There are many bastions in the fort and many have a small room built. There are some remains of the palace in the form of plinths. There is also small granary and a stone building which was a store house for the ammunition. There are also some wells in the fort.
Kanakdurg has some bastions and eight water tanks in its premise. Gova fort has two gates, one towards the sea and the other towards land.There are some old ruins in the fort. There is one MTDC hotel inside the fort premises.


















Past:
Some speculations have been done about the existence of these forts from Satavahana period i.e. 7th century. The first records of these forts are from the period of Bijapur sultanate in 1500's who were ruling this part of Konkan. In 1660 Shivaji captured this fort from Adi Adilshah II and from then on this area was under rule of Marathas and Peshavas or Angre were in charge of this area after him. The fort was built by using only stone walls with no cementing materials. The fort was a major protection which Angres held again foreigh naval forces especially British and Siddis of Janjira.
Kanakdurg was built by Shahu Maharaj in 1710 whereas other forts were built by Angrias during that period. Main purpose of building those forts were preventing attacks from land towards the sea.

Present:
Suvarnadurg is covered with dense growth of thorny bushes. Fattegad is now covered with colony of fishermen.

Nearby attractions:
Harnai has big fish market on its beach and the fish from this port are also exported to other countries. It is famous for prawns, lobsters and various other sea creatures. The trade takes place on the Harnai beach. The hill near Harnai gives a beautiful view of these sea forts and Harnai town. One can also visit pristine beach of Murud and Ganapati Mandir at Anjarle which falls on the same route.

How to reach:
By your own vehicle:

Mumbai
Mangaon
Ambet
Dapoli Harnai
Pune
Kolhapur
Chiplun
Khed
Goa

With Public transport:
Direct ST buses are available for Dapoli from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. While coming from Goa one has to reach chiplun and then take ST buses for Dapoli. From Dapoli there are plenty of local ST buses for Harnai.

Nearby Places for stay:
Dapoli, Various resorts and homestays in the area of Harnai.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 12: Kille Kamandurg किल्ले कामणदुर्ग


Location:
Kuhe, Tal. Bhivandi, Dist. Thane or Devkundi, Tal. Vasai, Dist. Thane

Things to see:
The fort does not have any fortification as such but signs of this site are present in the surroundings. There is one small water tank dug out in the rock are present on the western side of the summit. The summit provides beautiful views of Vasai creek and its surrounding areas such as Bhaindar and Vasai cities. Islands covered with mangroves and salt pans near the creek can also be seen from the summit. Tungareshwar hills also add to the beautiful scenery around the the fort. The summit as it is seen from ground is not one single peak but two peaks separated by one small gorge. The round shape of the summit gives one an impression of volcano. Help of a local guide is necessary to find the way upto top. One needs to be an experienced trekker as the hill climb is not easy and the path is slippery.



















Past:
A stone sculpture found in the area helps us to infer that this has been an important place from ancient times. There are some water tanks found in this area about 6-7 of which have been built by Maratha during 1739 when the forces fighting with Portuguese reported to Peshawa headquarters in Pune about the need of constructing some water tanks in the area. 

Present:
There is rampant deforestation in the surrounding hills due to which lot of soil erosion is occurring in the area. It is also making climb to the summit difficult due to opening of the soil as the binding for the soil in the form of trees is being lost.

Nearby attractions:
Tungareshwar hills.

How to reach:

With your own vehicle:
Mumbai/ Thane/ Pune- Bhiwandi- (Take road going to Parol) Chimbicha pada- Kuhe
Mumbai/ Thane/ Pune- Ghodbundar- (NH 8 Mumbai- Ahmedabad highway) Chinchoti- (Take Vasai- Bhivandi road) Kaman- Devkundi

With Public transport:
Reach Bhivandi. Direct ST buses available from Mumbai, Borivali, Pune and Nashik. Take buses going via Parol road and get down at Chimbicha Pada and walk to Kuhe.

Nearby Places for stay:
Bhivandi, Vasai

Forts of Konkan 11: Kille Kulaba किल्ले कुलाबा


Location:
Alibaug. Dist. Raigad

Things to see:
It is located on an island near the Alibaug beach. It can be reached by walking for 500 m if the tide is low otherwise it requires a boat to reach here. The speciality of the fort is that its wall is constructed by stone blocks just one over the other and no cementing material is used in the construction. Its main entrance is towards North east towards Alibaug beach. It has beautiful carvings depicting lotus, peacocks, elephants etc. There is one under ground room near the second door. There is another entrance which opens directly on the sea in the south. There is one Ganesh temple in the fort. The fort provides views of island forts of Khanderi and Underi in the North and Alibaug town and Sagargad in the east. In the south one can see fort of Korlai. There is one small fort in the North very near to the Alibaug fort is Sarjekot. On the Alibaug beach there is small fort called Hirakot. 





















Past:
The fort was built by Shivaji Maharaj. The whole area of Ashtagar or 8 coastal villages of Alibaug taluka were under control Angres, the naval chief of Maratha military. The Angre family had to fight wars with Portuguese in 1730's and with Siddi of Janjira in 1747 both of whom tried to take this area. Angres successfully won both the wars. The Angre Kingdom rules this area till 1840 when British took complete control of this princely state.

Present:
The fort is not in good condition and its walls are crumbling. It is in need of repairs and renovation. Alibaug being the place of prime tourist attraction there is scope to develop it into an important tourist place.

Nearby attractions:
Alibaug beach and Kanhoji Angre memorial.

How to reach:
By your own vehicles:
Mumbai- Panvel- Pen- Alibaug
Pune- Khopoli- Pen- Alibaug
Kolhapur/ Goa- Chiplun- Mahad- Roha- Alibaug

With Public transport:
Reach Alibaug with direct ST buses avaiable from Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur. It is the walking distance from Alibaug beach.

Nearby Places for stay:
Alibaug.

Forts of Konkan 10: Kille Ratnagiri किल्ले रत्नागिरी


Location: Ratnagiri Town, Altitude 100m.

Things to see:
On the three sides of the fort, there is sea and it is connected to land on only one side. There is one lighthouse in the southern corner of the hill. The fort walls are not continuous. The citadel is in the North western corner and there is a temple of Goddess Bhagawati in the temple. Near the temple is a very well constructed well and has one tunnel which is claimed to be a way for escaping from enemy. The tunnel is claimed to have its other opening in the sea downwards. Nobody has verified this yet. The fort offers beautiful views of sea coast and ports of Bhagavati, Mandvi and Mirya and also those of Ratnagiri town.

Past:
The fort was strengthened during the Bahamani rule from the period 1343 to 1500. There are no records mentioning anything about this fort in subsequent Adilshahi dynasty of Bijapur which was ruling this area upto 1600. In 1670 it came under rule of Shivaji Maharaj. Marathas made this fort their important military post and was in their hands till British took it over in 1818.

Present:
The fort has been made accessible by motorable roads from Ratnagiri town. There is small village called Killa which has developed at the base of the fort. The temple has its annual festival in the Navratra time which comes during the month of September or October.




Nearby attractions:
Ratnagiri town has many places of tourist attraction such as Birthplace of Lokmanya Tilak, Patit Pavan Mandir, Thibaw palace which now hosts a small museum showing historical artefacts from Konkan. There is one Marine Biological Research Centre near Ratnagiri fort which has an aquarium.

How to reach:
With your own vehicle:
Mumbai- Chiplun- Ratnagiri
Pune- Satara- Koynanagar- Ratnagiri
Kolhapur- Ambaghat- Ratnagiri
Goa- Kankavali- Ratnagiri

With Public transport:
From Mumbai by train, ST buses or private buses
From Pune- by ST or private buses
From Kolhapur- by ST or private buses
From Goa- by Train or ST buses

The Ratnagiri fort is connected by ST city bus service. There are also private auto rikshaws which can be hired.

Nearby Places for stay:
Ratnagiri

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 9: Kille Karnala किल्ले कर्नाळा


Location: Karnala, Tal. Panvel, Dist. Raigad, Altitude 469 m, hike from the base 400 m.

Things to see:
The fort is part of the Karnala bird sancturay. The surrounding jungle has more than 100 bird species if one observes keenly and silently. It is famous for its 50 m high rock on the summit. The fort offers views of jungles in the surrounding hills, urban sprawl of Mumbai metropolis in the west, and Sahyadri mountains in the east especially notable is Nagphani or Duke's Nose. One can also view of Malanggad, Matheran and Chanderi fort in the north. There is one cave with water storage. The entrance is carved in black rock and has some stone sculptures. There are some two inscriptions on stone. First is in Marathi at the first entrance and second is in Persian at the second inner gate.

Past:
From the structure of the fort it has been inferred that the fort was build at some time in 13th century. Then it changed hands from local Hindu kings to Nizamshah of Ahmednagar. It was won by Maratha forces of Shivaji in 1660's. After Shivaji it has changed its ownership to Mughals then Peshvas, Angres and then again to Peshvas before getting into the hands of British in 1818 when Col. Prather's forces won this fort.

Present:
The Karnala sanctuary is visited by many tourists during the weekends due to its easy access. Not many visit Karnala fort. The place has great scope to get developed into an ecotourism destination. The fort is of course in urgent need of restoration. In the fort the high rock which is an attraction of the place has many rock bee colonies and one has to be aware of them and take care not to disturb them. The Karnala area has been a site for a famous Marathi movie Jait Re Jait.























Nearby attractions:
Nil

How to reach:
With your own vehicles:
Mumbai/ Pune- Panvel- Karnala (13 km from Panvel on NH-17, Mumbai- Goa highway)
Goa- Mahad- Pen- Karnala

With Public transport:
Mumbai/ Pune- Panvel- Karnala (by ST buses, direct buses available from Mumbai, take those buses which go beyond Panvel on Goa route)

Nearby Places for stay:
It has some forest rest houses. Panvel has some lodges and on Goa highway there are some good resorts nearby.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 8: Kille Mahuli किल्ले माहुली


Location: Mahuli, Tal. Shahapur, Dist. Thane, altitude 762 m.

Things to see:
It is actually a group of three forts viz. Bhandargad, Mahuli and Palasgad. It offers views of backwaters of Tansa in the north and Bhatsa in the south. There are also some nearby peaks such as Navra, Navari, Chanderi in the south and Chhota Mahuli in the North. There are remnants of fort walls and main entrance, the way to which is now eroded and washed away. It is on the eastern side of Mahuli fort. On Bhandargad which is on the sourt of Mahuli has a cave tank and offers view of Kalsubai peak and Kulang fort in the east. Palasgad offers view of Tansa lake.

Past:
The fort surely exists from the ancient times but who was the first to build that fort is not known. The earliest record mentions of its ownership in the hands of Malik Ahmed who was ruler from Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar in 1485. It was then Shahaji Raje, father of Shivaji Maharaj who came to this fort and made into his home for an year in 1636 when Adilshahi of Bijapur attacked this fort on the call of Delhi Mughals. Shahaji had to surrender to him and got into Adilshah's service and went to Bengalooru. In 1658, Shivaji won this fort from Moguls but was again lost to them as part of one treaty in 1661. Shivaji again captured it in 1670 and then it remained in Maratha rule till its end.

Present:
Very little remains of the old fort. The fort offers a very good thrill for a hiker due to its height and straight rock faces. The last part of the trek involves climb on ladder. The surroundings of the fort are forested but a lot of it is being cut illegally and it has resulted in high soil erosion in the area and subsequent washing away of many of its hill paths. The main way to enter the fort which was used in the past has already washed away and trekkers and local people have to go through very difficult climbs. There are some sculptures and stone inscriptions on the forts of Mahuli and Bhandargad which are not yet understood.




Nearby attractions:
Temple in Mahuli village at the base of the hill.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles:
Mumbai/ Pune- Thane- Shahapur- Mahuli village
Nashik- Shahapur-
With Public transport:
Mumbai/ Pune- Thane- Shahapur (by ST buses)/ Kalyan- Asangaon (by trains)- special or shared autorikshaws or taxis to Mahuli village
Nashik- Kasara- Shahapur

Nearby Places for stay:
Shahapur, camping on fort.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 7: Kille Vasai किल्ले वसई


Location: Vasai, Dist. Thane

What to see: Statue of Narveer Chimajiappa, view of Vasai creek and Bhayandar town in the southern creekside entrance of the fort, remnants of old Saint Joseph Church which was converted from a Masjid to a church, saint Anthony church near Sebastian Wall, Saint Paul's Church, Church of Nosa Senora da Vida in citadel, Domican Church and convent which was a hospital, two Hanuman temples, one Vajreshwari temple, one Shiva temple.

Past:

The area of Vasai was under Hindu kingdom of Sheshvanshi Kshatriyas in 1300's when he had erected one small fortress near Dandale lake. Some fortification was done at the present site was done Islamic rules of Gujarat sultanate from 1400's to 1500's but all the present structures have been constructed during Portuguese rule which started during 1500's. First they started building fortified warehouses which later on were supported by military protection. Present day structures were completed in 1590. Portuguese had planned for gaining conrol over the entire North Konkan and coastal Gujarat stretching from Chaul to Diu and make Vasai their capital due to which they had strengthened Vasai fort very well. The plan could not materialise as Maratha forces led by Chimajiappa, brother of second Peshwa Bajirao I, attacked Vasai fort and gave an end to the Portuguese rule in the Northern Konkan by winning Vasai region. They had to fight a very tough war and lost almost 100,000 soldiers but after winning this battle on 4 May 1739 they could drive the Portuguese out from the entire region and freed the people from their cruel inquisition which the region of Goa suffered for next 225 years. When Maratha forces were losing their hopes of winning, Chimajiappa is said to have said to kill him by cannon and make his head fall down in the fort. Afterwards Maratha forces felt aggravated and then won the fort. All the Hindu temples were built during Peshwa rule. Peshwa rule was did not destryoy any of Christian remnants although they had won the fort from Portuguese to end their cruel rule which enforced inquisition and forced conversion in the area. It came under British rule in 1780 with a treaty between British and Marathas. British ran a sugar factory in the fort which was not very much profitable. It was converted to an orphanage later. Many artefacts from the fort were transferred from fort to the churches in the nearby villages. The farmland in the eastern end of the fort was later developed after independence under Kharland Board. It was earlier under creek wetlands and mangrove forests and actually a major defence of the fort.

























Present:
The fort has a decagonal shape and has a circumference of 2 km. We enter the fort by tar road which is made by destroying some of the portion of fort wall. The real entrance of the fort is actually to the right of the present entry. This entrance has a doble walled structure and it was very tough to get the entry by force in historical times. Second entry is from the eastern side of the fort from Mandvi port. The fort is in decaying condition due to lack attention from the governments ruling in the region from the post portuguese period which include Marathas, British and also our own Indian government. The fort is in urgent state of repairs and protection.



























Nearby attractions:
Stroll through older Vasai town which has mixed Hindu and Chritian culture, Taste local dishes Bhujing and Khaja. Buy Sukeli (preserved Bananas), white onions and vegetables which are all local produce.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles:
Mumbai- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai
Pune/ Goa- Thane- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai

With Public transport:
From Mumbai- Reach Vasai Road station by suburban local trains, Take Churchgate -Vasai Road takes 1.10 hours and there are trains for Vasai Road from Churchgate/ Dadar station every 20 minutes. On western side of the station shared or private autorikshaws and ST buses are available to reach Vasai town and fort.
Direct ST buses are available for Vasai from Thane, Kalyan, Pune and Nashik.
Vasai Road is an important station on Western Railways and many trains connecting Gujarat to Mumbai, Pune, Konkan and South India have a halt at Vasai Road.

Places for stay:
Vasai

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 6: Kille Vajragad किल्ले वज्रगड


Location: Girij, Tal. Vasai, Dist. Thane, Height 100 m.

What to see:
There is a Datta Mandir and a water tank in the fort. It offers very peaceful surroundings with a view of coastal belt of Vasai taluka from Arnala to Vasai. The Dharavi fort across Vasai creek in south and Kamandurg in the east can also be seen.

Nearby attractions:
Shankaracharya Mandir at Nirmal and Churches in Girij and Nirmal. The area is famous for its cultivation of small white onions which are sweeter in taste and also for cultivation of flowers especially Jasmine. There is also production of preserved Bananas which are called as Sukeli.

Past:
Vajragad was sometimes also called as "Vajirgad". Fort was built for keeping a watch on movements between Vasai Fort & Arnala Fort during Vasai Mohim of Peshavas during the period 1737 - 1739. Fort had some 7-8 bastions , a big water tank which is still existebt, Dhal Khatichi Jaga (Nishan Buruj), Hanuman murti, Sadar (Place of discussion) built in 1738.

























Present:
The area has little of the earlier structure remained. The area is today more famous for its Dattatreya temple. Local people might not even know the place by the name Vajragad but one has to ask for Datta Mandir. The place is owned privately but the entry to the temple and the surroundings is not restricted. 

How to reach:

With your own vehicles:
Mumbai- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai- Girij
Pune/ Goa- Thane- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai- Girij

With Public transport:
From Mumbai- Reach Vasai Road station by suburban local trains, Take Churchgate -Vasai Road takes 1.10 hours and there are trains for Vasai Road from Churchgate/ Dadar station every 20 minutes. On western side of the station shared or private autorikshaws and ST buses are available to reach Vasai town. From there on take buses or shared autorikshaws for Girij.
Direct ST buses are available for Vasai from Thane, Kalyan, Pune and Nashik.
Vasai Road is an important station on Western Railways and many trains connecting Gujarat to Mumbai, Pune, Konkan and South India have a halt at Vasai Road.

Places for stay:
Vasai

Forts of Konkan 5: Kille Jeevdhan किल्ले जीवधन


Location: Virar, Tal. Vasai, Dist. Thane
The fort is located on a hill on the eastern side of the Virar town. The height from Mean Sea Level 336m.

What to see:
Jeevdani Mandir situated in a cave, view of Vasai taluka- specially beautiful is coastline full with coconut palms, salt pans, urban sprawl of Vasai, Virar and Nalasopara, rice paddies in the kharlands, islands in the creeks and mangrove forests view of Vaitarana creek, view of Tungareshwar and Kamandurg hills on the south eastern direction

Past:
The hill was actually a home to a small fortress which was used for watching the movements in Vasai area. The earliest known holders of this fort are Marathas with a brief period of Portuguese for some years in 18th century before again getting into the hands of Maratha forces on 31 Marh 1739 when Maratha forces attacked Vasai and afterwords ended Portuguese rule in the Northern Konkan. There are some caves with a small water tank which are known to exist in the fort since ancient times. There are some stories associated with the Goddess Jeevdani and how the holy place came into existence. The temple became famous in 1956 when villagers established idol of the Goddess and erected the temple.

Present:
Though known in the past by the name Jeevdhan, nowadays it more famous for its temple and not as a fort. The hill is in the jurisdiction of the Forest Department and with the joint collaboration of Jeevdani Temple Trust, local Joint Forest Management Committee and Forest Department, various measures for afforestation, fire control and watershed development are being undertaken.

























Nearby attractions:
A small lake with fountain and boating in Virar town

How to reach:
Coming by your own vehicle:
Routes for Virar:
Mumbai- Ghodbundar- Shirsad phata- Virar
Pune/ Goa- Thane- Ghodbundar- Shirsad phata- Virar

With Public transport:
From Mumbai- Reach Virar by Suburban Local train. Churchgate to Virar takes 1.20 hours and there is train for Virar from Churchgate/ Dadar station every 20 minutes., on east side of the station shared or private autorikshaws available to reach base of the Jeevdani hill.
There is alternate route from Virar -Chandansar road if one wants to avoid the route lined with shops and crowds. One can reach this entrance by taking shared autorikshaws going to Chandansar.

Nearby Places for stay:
Virar