Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj early on recognized the importance of navy and established a naval fleet. Sindhudurg fort, , was an important part of his naval strategy to keep a check on colonial forces ( Portuguese, Dutch and British ).
Laying the foundation
While surveying the Konkan coast line Shivaji Maharaj felt the need to build an impenetrable sea fort. On reaching the Malwan beach, in Kurte island he found the place desirable for such a project. “Of the 84 ports there is no place like this, – so establish a new Janjira fort here!” was the King’s order. Accordingly, on 25th November 1664, he laid the foundation of the fort and worshiped the sea at Moryacha dhondha to initiate the construction of the fort. The Moryacha dhonda ( he auspicious stone worshiped by Shivaji Maharaj) can still be viewed in the Malvan dandi area.
Sindhudurg Fort Construction
Hiroji Indulkar was the chief architect who constructed the fort. The construction was completed om 29th March 1667 after 3 years. The foundation of the fort is set in molten iron. It is believed that 70000 Kg of iron was mixed with mortar to strengthen the fort. The fort is constructed on 48 acres of land. Inside the fort has huge walls with ramparts on all the four sides. The highest of these walls ranges from 20 to even 35-40 ft. high. There are 52 bastions in the fort. The entrance, modeled as a face of a cow, is not easily visible from the outside. It is known as “Dilli Darwaja”, and is visible only once you get near to the fort otherwise it looks like a wall.
In order to camouflage the importance of Sindhudurg, multiple sea forts – Padmagad, Sarjekot and Rajkot – were built in the vicinity at the same time.
Things to see inside the Fort
On entering through the main entrance one can climb the fort rampart. There are 45 stone staircases to climb the fort rampart. It is said that in those days 1 crore hon ( gold coin currency ) was expended for the construction of the fort.
Shivaji’s Hand and Foot Prints
On the left side of this rampart in a dome one can see the hand and foot imprint of Shivaji Maharaj on limestone. It is said that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj would frequent visit the fort to supervise the construction, and it is during one such visit a clever worker got these prints from the king. These are the only hand and foot prints of Shivaji Maharaj available today.
Temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj
The specialty of this fort is that it houses the one and only temple of Shivaji Maharaj in India. This Shivrajeshwar temple was constructed by his second son – Rajaram Maharaj in 1665. Interestingly the idol of Shivaji Maharaj is without his typical beard and moustache, instead, it is in the guise of a sailor sitting cross legged in a unique lotus posture, surrounded by sculptures of Sun and Moon. The Karveer Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj in 1906-07, extended the temple by constructing a big hall.
A huge statue of Lord Hanuman is carved just inside the main door. The fort also houses temples of Lord Shiva, Jari mari, Mahapurush and Bhavani.
There are three sweet water wells in the fort and these have been named as Dudhbav, Dahibav, and Sakharbav, besides the two small lakes.
Reaching the fort
There are a number of machine boats available on the Malvan jetty to ferry the visitors to this fort. However the facility is unavailable during the four months of monsoon. Even during weekdays one is not guaranteed to get a ferry as the operator plies the ferries only when 20 passengers are available. We suggest to view the fort during a weekend when there is tourist rush so as to avoid being dissapointed at the Malvan jetty. Visiting hours to the fort are from 10am to 5:30 pm.
By Road: From Mumbai, one can take the Mumbai – Goa Highway to reach Malvan. If coming from Pune or Bangalore, take the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway, and exit at Kolhapur towards Malvan via the Radha Nagari forest reserve.
Read More: In Photos: Drive on the Konka Coastal Road.
By Rail: Nearest railway station is Sawantwadi railway station which is 20 Kms from the MAlvan jetty, Regular auto-rickshaws ply on this route to bring the tourists from the Railway station.
Where to Stay
Nearby guesthouses and acomodation is available at Tarkarli Beach ( 6Kms) and Devbaug (13 Kms ) from Malva jetty. MTDC accomodation is also available at Tarkarli beach. Another option is to stay at Chiwala beach which is 5 Kms to the north of Malvan.
Any visitor to this fort cannot but bow down and salute this great visionary who recognized the importance of navy and established this strong sea fort.