The glorious years of the Maratha empire in Maharashtra has given some of the most prominent architectural marvels. Whether you talk about Pune’s Shaniwarwada or Thanjavore Maratha palace, or Kondana fort, each monument depicts the grand architectural elements of the dynasty. However, to truly appreciate the best engineering of the Marathas, you can visit this fort overlooking the Arabian Sea. It is located in an island, just off the coast of Maharashtra
This fortress was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the shores of Sindhudurg district’s Malvan town. The main reason behind the construction of this massive fort was to protect the Maratha empire from the attacks of British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese invaders. Today, the fortress is a protected monument under the Central Government of India.
The 15th and 16th centuries had seen the rise of the British and Portuguese attacks on the Maratha territory. To protect its coastline from the invaders, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj decided to build a fort to fortify the area. The construction was started in 1664 under his command. The architect of the fort was Hiroji Indulkar, one of the greatest architects of his time. He also built the Raigad Fort and Pratapgad Fort.
Shivaji brought 200 Vaddera people and 3,000 workers to build the fort, who were employed round the clock for three years. The construction began in 1664 and completed in 1667. At a time when traveling by sea was banned by scriptures, this massive fort on the shores of the Arabian Sea, represented the revolutionary approach of Shivaji Maharaj.
The fort has witnessed several battles and remained with the Marathas for many years. However, British captured it in 1765. Today, the fort is a protected monument and is under the care of the Archeological Survey of India.
Anyone visiting Sindhudurg fort Malvan Maharashtra cannot help but be stunned by the huge ramparts of the fort. An interesting fact about it is that more than 500 khandis of lead were brought from the British Gidam of Rajapur to spray at the base to strengthen the foundation. The walls are 30 feet in height and 12 feet thick, and covers 48 acres of land and is 3 km long.
The concealed main entrance, built of hardwood, was constructed in such a way that nobody from outside can navigate it. The height and the thickness of the walls were built keeping in mind about the strong tides of the sea and the invaders. The wall has a zigzag pattern and has 52 bastions. There are two watchtowers at a half a mile distance of each other, four water wells, and 150 houses.
The drainage system of the fort was designed in such a way that the water drained into the sea without flooding the fort during monsoon.
However, the number of permanent residents living inside the fort has declined. If you visit the fort, you will find only a handful of people, who are still living here.
The creation of the fort’s entrances was undoubtedly one of the most important features of the fort. It is difficult to identify the gate from outside. There were two entrances, and one of the gates was built between two bastions and made the pathways so narrow that only 4 to 5 people could enter at a time. So, in case of an attack, the Maratha soldier from top of the bastion would kill the attackers before they could even enter.
Another entrance is located in Ranichi Vela. It is a hidden passageway that starts from a temple and goes under the island for 3 km, then in the sea for 12 km and finally leads you to a nearby village Masura.
Best Time to Visit
One of the most important Sindhudurg Fort information is to avoid visiting the fort during monsoon. The Konkan belt experiences high rainfall and strong wind and the climate remains hot and humid. The temperature soars up to 30 to 40℃. Winters here are comparatively calm and cool, which make it the best season to plan a trip to Sindhudurg Fort.
How to Reach
Sindhudurg Fort is just one km away from Malvan Jetty. A small boat or ferry are always available on the shores, which can take you to the fort. However, to reach Malvan Jetty, you need to reach Sindhudurg first.
- By Air: Chipi Airport is a small domestic airport that serves Sindhudurg. You will find flights from Mumbai or Pune. From the airport, rent a car to take you to Malvan Jetty.
- By Road: The road connectivity to Sindhudurg is poor. You may find some buses only if you book well in advance. You can instead take a bus or taxi ride to Kankavali and from there it is easy to get a taxi to Sindhudurg.
What to See
For the Marathas, the fort is a cenotaph of Shivaji Maharaj, where his image is being worshiped in the temple inside. You will also find well-preserved hand and foot prints of him, which is protected by a small dome in the temple.
- Sivrajesware Temple: The temple was built by Rajaram, the younger son of Chhatrapati Shivaji. An interesting fact about the temple is that it has the only image of Chhatrapati Shivaji without his beard. His idol in a boatman’s attire is perhaps only one of its kind in the country. The idol enshrined in the sanctum of the temple is carved out of a black stone.
- The Sweet Water Reservoirs: There were three sweet water reservoirs in the fort, which were a great source of freshwater for those living inside it. Dud Vav, Dahi Vav, and Shakar Vav are the three main water reservoirs, which still stand as an example of engineering brilliance of the era. The water here never dried up even during the scorching heat of summer.
- Ranichi Vela: Ranichi Vel is where queen Tarabai used to bathe. However, it has lost its old glory and charm. Today, you may not find water and instead only sands and stoners have become a common sight. It is encircled with large walls and was used by the queen and her female servants.
- Hidden Passage: If you want to be more adventurous, it starts from a temple and goes under the island for 3 km, then in the sea for 12 km and finally leads you to a nearby village Masura.
- Nishan Buruj: This significant feature of the fort was used to unfurl the Maratha flag. It is placed in the central portion, so that it is visible from any direction. The attackers could see the Maratha flag flying high from the sea itself.
- The Coconut Tree: No wonder, you are curious about the coconut tree of Sindhudurg fort. It is the only coconut tree in the whole world, which has branches and gives fruits as well. Don’t forget to click a picture of this natural wonder.
A trip to Sindhudurg Fort itself is a one-day vacation, where you can be awed by the sheer brilliance of engineering of the bygone era. However, a trip to the fort also gives you an opportunity to explore the nearby attractions. Here are some places where you can visit.
The waters in this island are calm and perfect for boating, swimming, jet-skiing, kayaking, and bumper boating. However, tourists visit the island in hordes, which makes it a crowded place. But if you are more into water adventure, make sure to visit Tsunami Island, which is just 0.5 km from Sindhudurg Fort.
Take a boat ride in the backwaters of Karali, which is just 2.2 km from the fort. The view is resplendent when backwaters of Karali River meet the Arabian Sea. Look out for a pod of dolphins splashing waters during your boat ride. The ride will take you through the dense jungles on both sides. Take a moment to appreciate nature.
Indian Institute of Scuba Diving & Aquatic Sports
The institute on Tarkarli Beach is the first such institute in India dedicated to Scuba diving and aqua sports. Here, you will find a 25 ft scuba diving pool, classrooms, a seaside restaurant, deluxe suites, and conference hall. It provides both basic and scuba diving training.
Malvan Marine Wildlife Sanctuary
Malvan Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect place to see the rich biodiversity of the Konkan coast. The sanctuary is home to 30 species of fish, including Rohita, Tor Putitora, Singhada, Labeo Calbasu, etc. Marine life includes sea anemones, seaweed, mangroves, pearl oyster, coral, etc.
The market is one and a half km from the fort and is a perfect place to shop the best at the cheapest. This 150 year old market is visited by all tourists visiting the fort. You can find all kinds of handicrafts, bronze ware, Kolhapuri chappal, junk jewelry, Khadi clothes, etc. Have your Konkani lunch at one of the restaurants in the market.
Sindhudurg Fort is one of the exemplary fortresses built by Shivaji Maharaj. It was built as a fort and headquarter of the Maratha navy. However, the fort today has lost its old charm. But it still houses the descendants of the original residents. Tourists in large numbers come to the fort to admire its impressive construction, the temples, hand and foot prints of Shivaji Maharaj, the unique coconut tree with branches, and three water reservoirs.