View of Fort from the Ferry that takes you there...
Sindhudurga, off Malwan, is undoubtedly the most formidable of Shivaji's sea coast constructions. After much research, Shivaji selected the larger of the two outer islands in the bay almost blocked by rocky reefs, actually about half a mile from the Dandi point of the Malwan shore. However, the approach distance of the fortified island, from the harbour, across the narrow channel safe for navigation, between the two smaller islands, measures about a mile. The local name of the selected low mass of rock was Kurte. The construction started on November 25, 1664 and after three years' round the clock endeavour by over six thousand skilled hands of masons, blacksmiths and architects, the massive miraculous fort of Sindhudurga came into being.
According to one record over 200 khandis i.e. 4000 mounds of irons was used for casting the necessary implements and the solid foundation stones were laid down firmly in molten lead. The work was executed under the superintendence of Govind Vishwanath Prabhu of the Kudal Desaee family, with assistance from 100 Portuguese experts. Even Shivaji in person is said to have worked here with his own hands.
The elusive entrance to Fort Sindhudurga
The Main Gate of Sindhudurga Fort
Sindhudurga covers an extensive area of 48 acres by almost 2 miles long rampart walls, 29 to 30 feet high and on an average 12 feet thick. The curtain wall is guarded by, apart from the observation towers, 52 enormous imposing semicircular bastions with fine embrasures for cannons. The entrance to the fort is by Dilli Darwaja to the north-east. Water was provided by three wells - Sakharbaun, Dudhbaun and Dahibaun and two tanks for storing rain water. The fort today is permanently inhabited by a small population.
Sentinels at Sea... The strong ramparts of Sindhudurga
Apart from the customary shrines of Bhawani, Mahadeo, Jarimari and the peculiar South Konkan deity Mahapurush, Sindhudurga enjoys the distinction and also the privilege of having the temple wherein Shivaji's image is worshipped. The Shri Shivchhatrapati temple, the only of it's kind was constructed in 1695 during the reign of Shivaji's son Rajaram. However the round faced image, seated in Yogic Veerasana pose, carved in black rock without beard, but with a strange fisherman like headgear, absolutely in no way bears resemblance with Shivaji's conventional image.
A Shrine within the fort
Further on the tower to the north of Dilli gate, are two little domes under which Shivaji's palm and foot prints in dried lime slabs are preserved and of course held in reverence.
The stairs on the left of the photo lead to Shivaji's Handprint and Footprint...
Chain of Forts around Sindhudurga.
The outer defences of Sindhudurga were strengthened by fortifying the neighbouring small island of Padmagad and building the forts of Rajkot and Sarjekot on the mainland, north of the town Malwan. The ruined fort of Padmagad, about a quarter of a mile from the shore, almost gets connected to it at a low ebb by the narrow neck of sand. Padmagad mainly served as the centre for building ships for Shivaji's navy. The fort Rajkot stands on a rising ground within the town limits of Malwan, to its north-west coastal corner. On three sides it is surrounded by sea. Today, it is just an enclosure of dry stones open towards the bay, and flanked at the three corners by traces of ruinous towers.
The second mainland fort Sarjekot, situated 1.5 miles north of Rajkot little beyond the Kolamb Creek in the coastal village of Revandi, is washed on the north by the sea and was once protected on the other three sides by a ditch. It was constructed on a hillock at the mouth of the Kalavali Creek on its south bank, by Shivaji in 1668. The creek which enters seven miles north to Masure and then to north-east reaching Maland, was once navigable. Due to it's zig-zag nature, the creek was convenient for anchoring or even for building ships. But the creek also provided a safe hiding place for pirates.
In the process of fortification around Sindhudurga, apart from the Padmagad-Rajkot-Sarjekot, the forts of Bhagavantagad to the north and Bharatgad to the south of the creek near Masure, as also the forts of Nivti near Kochare and Yashavantgad near Redi on the Terekhol creek, both to the south of Malwan, came into being. This ring of forts rendered the region absolutely safe.
For Information from the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency - Ratnagiri and Savantvadi Districts (Vol.X) Originally printed in 1880 click here.
[PLAN OF SINDHUDURGA FORT]
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