Oct 1, 2011

Sindhudurg: island fort in Arabian Sea

Sindhu + Durg ~ Sea + Fort.

Early morning view of the fort from Malwan jetty.

We had struck a deal with a boat operator for Rs.600 for four of us, onward and return. The beach was already busy with carts and rickshaws hauling fresh catch.

I'm quoting few points from a booklet on Sindhudurg published by Pravin Vasantrao Bhosale. Chatrapathi Shivaji, the Maratha warrior king constructed Sindhudurg between 1664 and 1667. It is said that the king himself selected Kurte island as the site and monitored progress closely. Foundation for the rampart walls was laid in lead. In addition to stones on the island, stones were brought from mainland for construction activities. Workers was paid on a daily basis. It is said that 100,000 gold coins were spent on having this fort built.

View of the fort from the boat. That's the point of landing, right in front of the fort entrance. But the door is not visible, in fact one cannot make out where the entrance is.

Google map grab-

A - Mahadwara (main entrance)
B - Shivaji's hand and foot print
C - Mahapurush Tank
D - Broken wall
E - Ranichi Vela (queen's beach)
F - Nishan Burj (flag bastion)
G - Bhagavati temple
H - Sweet water wells
I - Shiva temple
J - Shivaji temple

A curved path leads to the fort door. This lever design helps conceal the entrance. Yellurgad Fort features similar entrance.

Main entrance is called Mahadwara. These walls are 10 to 20 feet thick and stand 30 to 40 feet tall. Perimeter of the fort is 4500 meters i.e. 4.5km.

These walls are well finished, no gaps between stones to be found which means no chance for anyone to climb these walls without ropes or ladders.

Atop the wall flanking the curved entrance. These walls have been standing for almost 350 years.

A raised platform to watch out for vessels approaching the Mahadwara.

Looking towards the south-eastern corner of the fort. Bastions are strategically positioned to provide adequate security from the inside.

I was headed in the anti-clockwise direction while Durga, Deepak and mom were headed in the opposite direction. I turned and joined them for breakfast- bread & jam -at the north-east corner bastion where Shivaji's hand and foot prints are preserved in two little enclosures.

It was warm and the temperature rising steadily. Durga was showing signs of boredom. We were less than quarter the way along the perimeter. The fort has natural protection ...rocks in the sea are an deterrent to boats and ships. Only experienced people are allowed to navigate boats around the fort. The bastion you see at the end of this wall must be the north-western corner of the fort.

Building straight walls is one matter but curved walls is something else. See how smoothly this wall curves and how well it is finished. The other reason for smooth walls is to let water run off. Cracks and gaps allow water to seep in and walls weaken.

Steps like these are provided at frequent intervals. I'm trying to imagine the fort during its heydays; no weeds, Maratha flaf fluttering in the breeze, guards manning their posts, soldiers training, food grains arriving on boats, boats full of soldiers sailing around the fort, probably the army had few horses also.

That's Mahapurush tank- designed to catch & store rain water. Back then even this tank would require regular cleaning. What I saw was green colored liquid. These are the days of bottled water.

This where Durga and mom ended their walk and took a short cut towards the center of the fort. Durga was very thirsty, she and mom went in search of shops. Deepak and I continued our walk on the wall.

Now we were approaching the broken section of the fort. Wall here has a raw look, mortar used to fill gaps has eroded.

That's the gap in the wall. I could not find the cause for this damage; was it a natural or man-made. It looks as though waves batter the wall continuously. Perhaps the battering would be intense during high tides.

As seen from the outside. I wonder how the workers managed to move such big boulders and place them so neatly. I'm totally bowled over at the workers' ability to shape heavy stones of no particular shape and size. Each one of the stones have been fit in so neatly. What kind of energy and skill did these people have? Present day builders can neither design nor build anything as strong and beautiful.

Deepak turned back to join Durga and mom. It was hot now but I carried on, wanted to see as much as possible. See the steps leading down to a door in the wall? Rooms were built into these walls, for guards watching over the fort during nights. How on earth did the designer convey such details to the workers? Did they have detailed drawings?

I went past the queen's beach to the Flag Bastion and called Deepak.

Gave him the location and asked him to join me- I just found something interesting for Durga. We all grouped together and I lead them to the tiny little beach. A small rectangular opening in the wall lets out of the fort, on to the beach. Durga was thrilled at the sight. After all she did find something of her interest in a boring fort. The sand here is extremely coarse, almost little pebbles. When waves wash over you hear the sound of pebbles rubbing over each other. This short video will let you see and hear-

We collected lot of colorful pebbles, what ever shells we found were broken. I felt refreshed after cooling my feet at the beach. Time to move on, we still had few more places to see.

I visited Bhagavati temple, then the 3 wells- sweet water well, milk well and curds well.

Close by is the Shiva temple, the Garbhagudi is below ground level. According to legend a underground tunnel start here leading to the main land.

Stones throw from Shiva temple is a bigger temple dedicated to Shivaraya aka Shivaji Maharaj. The Garbhagudi had a small statue of a stockily built Shivaraya. A replica of the sword used by Shivaraya encased in a wooden-glass case is kept here for display. Photography inside the temple is banned.

I was thirsty now. We had some cool drinks and called the boatman to pick us up. While we waited at Mahadwara, I went exploring and got a shot of the northern wall.

Our boatman wanted us to try snorkeling but we weren't interested. Instead we asked him to take us for a ride around the fort. This is another damaged part of the fort- outer layer of the rampart wall has collapsed here.

The boatman had to navigate with lot of care, he looked pretty experienced and confident. I just coulf not take my eye off the fort. What an amazing creation!

These massive walls have been in sun, salt water, wind and rain for three and half centuries ...amd still managed remain solid. To provide security for Sindhudurg, 3 forts on the mainland were built- Padmagad, Rajkot and Sarjekot.

A unique temple on the beach. I asked for the name and promptly forgot.

We were all tired, not because of walking, the hot and humid air sapped our energy. We headed straight to our home-stay, have bath and headed to Chaitanya. Our lunch bill was a bomb ...sea food is expensive, make sure you check prices before ordering.

Sindhudurg Coordinates: 16°2'32"N 73°27'34"E



Team G Square said...

Lovely coverage of this fort . Thanks for sharing .

Manjula Umesh said...

The place looks amazing, was fascinated when watched your videos of Sindhudurg & was waiting for the blog post abt the place,almost nearly after five months finally I cld see the post. Tiny lil beach looks interesting.Videos & pics reveals the marvelous looks of the place, wish to visit the place.

Ace said...

Awesome architecture.