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Murud Roadtrip (includes Korlai Fort, Padmadurg Fort, Palace, Murud Janjira Fort and Bhalegaon Caves)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Work, work and more work, I was stressed out big time. I need a break said my body. So I decided to go on a road trip. Where to go was the question I had to ask myself. Beach or hill station? It was tough to decide because of the soaring temperatures. Finally I made up my mind and decided to go to Murud, a lonely fishing village situated 170 km from Mumbai in Raigad district, Maharashtra, India.

So I packed my bags and decided to go on my road trip. I booked a Chevy Tavera to take me to Murud. Heavy city traffic made it difficult for us to make good progress but, once we were out of Mumbai the journey was smooth.

On the way to Murud, I saw the broken ruins of Korlai fort in the distance. Forts always excite me so I decided to visit this one. The road to Korlai fort was so narrow that only a single vehicle could pass at a time. Somehow we managed to get to Korlai fort. We had to first pass over a narrow tar road with fisher folk houses on either side of the road. As we progressed on, we came across fewer and fewer houses until we saw the sea on the left and the walls of Korlai fort on the right.

In a few minutes we reached Korlai fort. At the entrance of the fort there is a lighthouse which is still working. The guard related to us the history of the lighthouse. The lighthouse at Korlai has a16-m (52 ft) square cylindrical masonry tower with a lantern and gallery attached to the front of a two-story masonry keeper's house. The tower has been painted with black and white horizontal bands while the dome of the lantern has been painted red.



Light House



Light House from Korlai Fort

Korlai Fort is also called El Morro or Castle Curfew. A steep staircase takes you to the entrance of the fort. With temperatures soaring, the climb tests both your physical and mental balance. But my love for exploration and my physical fitness helped me get up in a few minutes.

The view from the top was just amazing. I cannot describe it in words but I will try to do so for the benefit of those who haven’t got the chance to visit this fort. The sunlight had turned the seawater into liquid gold. It took me around an hour to visit the entire fort. Although the fort is in ruins its beauty is still visible. I spoke to a few locals who were doing some renovation work on one of the churches in the fort and they told me that the fort was built by the Portuguese in 1521, and was later conquered by the Marathas in the 17th century. There were plenty of cannons on the fort.


Korlai Fort from Light House



Boats in a distance from Korlai Fort



A few cannons up the fort



Ruins in the Fort

At this point I had to make a return to my beach house at Murud as it was already 3 in the afternoon and hunger had taken its toll on me. So I took a few pictures. They reminded me of the ones which I have on my computer desktop. Now I know such places really exist.

We left the fort for Murud. I reached my beach house at 4 in the evening. I was exhausted but I was also keen to see as much as I could of the place. A quick snack later, I was ready to explore the area around the cottage. Golden Swans Resort where I was staying had beautiful cottages. The lovely sea shore stretched on right in front of our cottage.

Another interesting thing about the resort was that they had six swans all around the place.

Visiting some locals, we learnt that there are two forts and a cave and a palace in Murud . Forts Jangira and Padma durg (Kasa Fort) are both sea forts but the latter is closed to the tourists as it was broken down by a cannon situated at Jangira and is currently under the Customs’ supervision. Padma durg was built by Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji, to enable him to conquer Jangira Fort. It is a small fort in comparison with Jangira Fort.





Padmadurg Fort from Golden Swans Resort



Padmadurg Fort from Murud Janjira Fort

The palace looks quite pretty from the outside. Much as I longed to, I could not explore it as it is privately owned by the Nawab who currently resides in Mumbai. The palace was built in 1885 for administrative purposes.



Palace

My cottage gave me a very good view of Padmadurg fort and the Palace. There is no night life here as it is a fishing village and after 7 in the evening all roads are deserted here. So I stayed inside the resort, had beer and resort food and stared at the star studded sky and forgot all about my stressful life in Mumbai.

DAY 2: Tuesday. I decided to visit the Jangira fort. I trekked off to Murud village. I had to board a ferry in order to visit the fort. I bought the tickets and set off. It turned out to be a sailboat. This was the first time in my life that I had sat in a sailboat. It took us around an hour to reach the fort. The good thing was that it was windy so we got there faster.



Murud Janjira fort from Murud village

The fort is truly amazing, You have to see it to believe it. The sailboat took us to the entrance of the fort. The local boat riders who also gear up as guides showed us around the fort for a small fee.

According to our guide, the fort was built by a Siddhi who came from Ethopia. It was  designed by an Afzal Khan (not the one who had his hand cut off by Shivaji) from Iran. It took the Siddhi 22 years to build this 22-acre fort which has 22 bastions around it. The walls of the fort are still intact. Although the fort is in total ruins on the inside, it still looks amazing. The fort was built using the materials available on the island itself. Nothing was bought in from elsewhere. The fort consists of a three-storey building which is now in ruins, a mosque, the Sheesh Mahal for the use and convenience of the queen, shops, houses and the graves of some of the inhabitants of the fort. It even has a hidden underground route which takes one to the village. The route is now closed by the government.



A strucutre on the fort



A lake on the fort



Bastions

There are two lakes within the fort. In bygone days they used to cater to the drinking needs of the people who used to stay there. Today they are filled with dirt. There is also a school which was closed back in 1971. The fort has three huge cannons on it. Out of these, supposedly the second largest cannon in the world, was used to break the Padma durg fort into three pieces.


The guide told us that the cannons were made of a combination of five metals. The temperature was 45 degrees celcius and we were all perspiring heavily but the cannons felt cool to the touch. We also saw the hidden entrances to the fort called chor darwaza and the soldiers resting rooms. 



One of the three big cannons on the fort

The entrance of the fort was marked with carvings of an elephant face. The same markings were also imprinted on some coins which were used as a kind of countersign for identifying inmates who sought entry into the fort



Carving of Elephant face at the entrance of the fort



Fort from a distance
By this time it was afternoon, and I was hungry. On the way back, I stopped at a place called Patil Khanvils as it boasts of good food (thalis). The food was tasteful and simple. They have fish, vegetable and chicken thalis. The thali which I ate consisted of rice, fried fish, fish curry, chappaties and solkadi. I ate lunch and headed back to the cottage. I spent the rest of the day in the cottage and in the evening had a bath in the sea.

DAY 3: On Wednesday morning I decided to visit the Bhalegaon caves. These Buddhist caves are supposed to be around 2000 years old. I was told that these caves were around 25 km from the cottage. Later I found out that the caves were not in Bhalegaon but were around 10 km away from Bhalegaon in a place called Kodi.

With the help of some locals, I set off to see the caves. They were perched on a hill and the view from there was truly beautiful. I was lucky that the Tavera took us right up to the caves. There was one stupa there and a number of carvings in the caves. But what I liked the most was the head of an elephant which was carved on the entrance of one of the caves. It was beautiful.



Bhalegaon Caves



Sculpture of an Elephant



Sculptures in the Caves

I returned to the cottage late in the afternoon and repeated my previous day’s schedule. Lunch at  Patil Khanvils and the evening at the beach.

In the evening I learned about a bull race on the seashore. I was very keen to watch it. These races are held once a fortnight in order to encourage local sports. But there were more motorbikes on the field then there were bulls. Most of the bulls were white and very well built. I got the impression that they were bred only for the races.

The bull race was truly an unforgettable experience as was all of Murud. I was very sorry to have to leave it and return to Mumbai. I enjoyed this visit to one of Maharashtra’s most beautiful forts. I look forward to coming here again and to making many such trips in the future. 


Ways to Reach: As Murud is 170 km from Mumbai, travel by road is the only way in which one can reach Murud ie via Alibaug or Roha. One can also take a ferry from the Gateway of India to Mandwa, near Alibaug, and then travel about 50 kms by road.

Visit: This fort can be visited throughout the year.

9 comments:

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar said...

You have some great pictures here. I like your style of writing. What more can I say? May you and your rucksack always have great memories to share with your readers. Cheers!

merod22 said...

Thanks Cynthia, you should plan for a roadtrip, its always fun :)

Vishius said...

Hey Merwyn
This blog is a great collection of Places in and around Mumbai. As a Mumbaikar I'd always hrd of all these places but thanks to your blog now i feel like I have a ready tourist guide available on the net.

Keep up the good work.
Vishal

merwynsrucksack said...

Thanks Vishal

Poo said...

Very Informative & Inspiring..keep up the good work...pictures are awesome too..

merwynsrucksack said...

Thanks Poo

Konkan Travel Guide said...

Great collection of information about various places .. .Keep it up
http://konkantourstravels.co.in/

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

Thanks Konkan Travel Guide

Solitary Reaper said...

Beautiful write-up! Have never been to this part of the country, but the way you have described it all, with the lovely photographs, it has got me thinking. Soon, sometime soon! :)

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