Mumbai Memoir 73- Mumbai to Murud Janjira Diary- Part 3
My early memories of Murud-Janjira chronicles from the late 1980s. This coastal town situated in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India mostly survives on fishing and tourism. Inspite of visiting it countless times since my childhood, there always is something new to explore in and around the town. On the 3rd day of my recent visit to Murud, I decided to visit the Korlai fort along with my cousins. This fort is situated 29 Kms North from Murud. It takes about an hour long drive from Murud to reach at the base of the fort.
The location of the Korlai fort had been strategically planned by Portuguese colonial rulers who built it on an island hill way back in 1846! The Portuguese called it ‘Castle Curlew’. The island on which it was build was named ‘Morro de Chaul’, which overlooks the Revdanda creek just across. With a vision of guarding their province, which spanned from the current day Korlai village (Raigad) to Bassein (Vasai- Thane district), the Portuguese procured permission from the Ahmednagar sultanate to build a fortification strong enough to keep a watch on invading enemies and thereby combat a possible attack.
A stone inscription installed in one of walls of the fort informs about the establishment of the fort. The inscription, which is carved in the Portuguese language reads- “This castle was commanded to be built by the Viceroy of India Dom Filipe Mascarenhas in November of the year 1646 and Fernão Miranda Henriques being Captain of Chaul, and was finished in May 1680, Cristóvão de Abreu de Azevedo being Captain of this fort.” Multiple attacks occurred on this magnificent fort. First attack was from the Ahmednagar sultanate and later the fort fell into Maratha custody from 1739-1818.
With so much of history witnessed by the fort, I could sense the sturdiness and resilience in the character of the fort inspite of it being in a dilapidated state today. The road uphill to the base of the fort is very narrow and has edgy curves but with a spirit of adventure I drove uphill till the lighthouse. The lighthouse is situated at the base of the fort and is well maintained by the Govt. of India. From the lighthouse started a trek uphill towards the fort. As we kept climbing the 100 odd steps that leads to the fort the view of the surrounding territory mesmerized my senses. After reaching the fort we started exploring the 2828 feet long plateau on which the fort is constructed. A sweet water source named ‘Santa Cruz’, a huge cannon pointing towards the Revdanda Creek and a church structure still stands intact in the fort.
Exploring such historical places creates an ultimate delight in me. Especially observing the surrounding below from a hilltop gives me a feel of me getting morphed into a bird who is soaring in the sky and watching the area by gracefully gliding on the cool winds that flow around.
There are seven bastions in the fort which are named after Christian Saints (Didacus of Alcala, Francis of Assisi, Sao Francis Xavier, Sao Pedro, Sao Inacio, Sao Filipe). As we saw the sun setting at the horizon, I got a warm and serene feeling in my heart. Our descend from the fort started thereafter. Like the 3 musketeers from Alexandre Dumas novel, me and my 2 cousins felt victorious of making the best of our Sunday, as we were successful in combating our respective urban stresses on the top of Korlai fort!
Photos: Shraddha C. Sankulkar
Photos & Captions
Fisherwoman selling her ‘catch’ at Murud-Janjira fish market.
Kids playing on an abandoned speed boat off the Murud-Ekdara creek.
After reaching the base of Korlai fort.
Happy moments as we ascended the fort. Myself, Sudarshan and Geeta.
Approaching the Korlai fort.
The descending view of the light house at Korlai fort.
Stone inscription informing the name of the Saint after whom one of the bastion is named at Korlai fort.
The only cannon left at the Korlai fort.
Dilapidated but yet standing strong- Korlai fort
The view of the setting sun from above Korlai fort.
Footprints of Portuguese rule in India.
The church structure inside Korlai fort.
The ‘3 Musketeers’ combating urban stress at Korlai fort.
Lord protect us thee! Me and my cousins (Sudarshan & Geeta) inside the church premise of Korlai fort.
Relaxing moments at Korlai fort.