History of Sindhudurg Fort
Sindhudurg Fort was built by Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the year 1656. The construction of the fort was supervised by Hiroji Indulkar, an accomplished architect. The fort still houses the foot and palm print of Shivaji. About 100 Portuguese experts from Goa were summoned and about 3000 workers were employed for building Sindhudurg Fort. After Shivaji the fort went under the control of Rajaram-Tarabai, Angres, Peshwa and the Bhosales of Kolhapur. In 1765 AD, it was captured by the British for a brief period who renamed it as Fort Augustus. The defence structures of the fort were later dismantled by the British in 1818 AD.
Architecture of Sindhudurg Fort
Sindhudurg Fort was constructed by using more than 4000 mounds of iron. The foundation stones of the fort were also laid very firmly. 25th November 1664 marked the beginning of its construction and its completion took three years and continued till 1667. The sea fort spans over an area of 48 acres and has a rampart of 3 kilometres length. The walls of the fort rise up to 30 feet and are 12 feet wide. The massive walls of the fort were very efficient in guarding the residents from the approaching enemies and also from the turbulent tides of Arabian Sea. The main entrance of Sindhudurg Fort occupies a concealed position so that nobody can spot it from outside. The architecture of the fort over the island represents a revolutionary mindset of the time when travelling by sea was banned by the scriptures.
Sindhudurg Fort can be reached by a boat from the Malvan pier through a narrow navigable channel located between two smaller islands called Dhontara and Padmagad. Enormous bastions flank the main gate facing the city. Palm and foot prints of Shivaji have been preserved in dry lime on the parapet near the entrance, under two small domes. The fort also houses a Shivaji temple having an image of Shivaji without a beard. It is the only temple of this kind in the country. The fort also houses other temples, three wells and tanks.
Residents of Sindhudurg Fort
Sindhudurg Fort had a number of permanent residents which declined over time after the abandonment of the fort. Owing to the inadequate employment opportunities, many of them moved out leaving behind around 15 families. Underwater discoveries in the region by Dr Sarang Kulkarni resulted in the establishment of the only well-established scuba-diving industry of the Indian sub-continent which also provided employment opportunities to the local residents. The original 'killedars', the Sakpal Naik family, also dwell in the fort.
Sindhudurg Fort attracts a number of tourist from all over the world where exploring the scuba-diving and snorkelling experience for viewing the beautiful coral reef on the outskirts of the island is a cherished activity. Dabolim Airport in Goa is the nearest airport while Sawantwadi, Kanakvali and Kudal are the nearest railway stations. It can also be reached conveniently through roadways.