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Fore Court near Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra near Agra in Uttar Pradesh

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fore Court is located in the Akbar's Tomb premises in Sikandara which is located around 9 KM away from Agra. Both cities are located in Uttar Pradesh. 
Fore Court near Akbar's Tomb

Not much history is known about it. No signboard either. 

Fore Court near Akbar's Tomb

Fore Court near Akbar's Tomb
Fore Court is made of sandstone. It comprises of a series of wide arched doors, one leading to another. It has flattish dome atop each of the rooms. Something similar to what I had seen at tomb at Sultan Ghari.  

Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra near Agra in Uttar Pradesh

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Akbar's Tomb is located at Sikandara which is located around 9 KM away from Agra. Both cities are located in Uttar Pradesh.
Entrance to the Tomb premises

History states that Mughal Emperor Akbar had started and finished the construction of his tomb and the garden around it, in his lifetime. It was built between 1605 to 1613 AD.
An other photo of the Entrance to the Tomb premises
The entrance to the tomb premises is this structure made of red sandstone and marble. The marble has got beautiful  patterns across it. The design is just amazing. Wondering, if this structure is  so beautiful, what the tomb would be like. Next to it are four minars painted in white color. How I wish, we were given entry to the minar's, as they would give an amazing view of the tomb premises. Two Chhatri's are also placed atop it. The red sandstone structure along with white minars with the blue skies behind it looked amazing. 
History of the Tomb
Finally I saw the Tomb,  first impressions, it was huge and wide and had many storey atop it. It had me thinking, Is this a tomb or a Palace in disguise. It was just beautiful. If Akbar could built a Tomb so beautiful, can't imagine what his Palace would be like. Fathepur Sikri is the place were the Palace of Akbar is located. Which was on my itinerary too. 
Akbar's Tomb
The Tomb structure is made of  red sandstone, it was shaped like a pyramid and the topmost part of the five storey structure, was made of marble and completed by his son. It is said to have no roof and open to the sky. The first four floors/ storey had a couple of chhatri on each level. The design of the structure was uniform from all four sides. 

The cenotaph is placed in the middle. But that is the false one, the actual one is in the basement. Again entry to which is restricted. 
Entrance to Akbar's Tomb
The entrance to the tomb, was beautiful. It has survived all these years. It had a chandelier in between, the walls, the arches and the ceiling is beautifully painted in various colors and have Islamic wirtings on them, which look like they were embossed on the walls. The premises was just beautiful. It might have taken the workers months to make the interiors so beautfful.  A small long entrance leads to the tomb. 
Inside of the tomb premises
A couple of other tombs are also  located in its premises. Apart from the main entrance to visit the tomb, there are three identical structures located at equi distance from the tomb. Something similar I had seen near Humayun Tomb in Humayun Tomb Complex. Though they are not in very good condition. It also saw a few Deer's in the premises. 
Narrow passage leading to the Tomb
Apart from me there were many others who had come that day to pay a visit. 
Akbar's Tomb
Entry to the top floors of the structure is restricted. But the view from up here would have been amazing. Again plenty of chattris erected atop it.  
Other Tombs in the premises
I then headed off to see Kanch Mahal and Unknown Lodi Tomb located in the same complex. 
Another photo of Akbar's Tomb

Delhi : Tomb of Quli Khan and British Agent Sir Thomas Metcalfe's Guest House in Mehrauli Archaeological Park

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tomb of Quli Khan and British Agent Sir Thomas Metcalfe's Guest House is located in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park which is near the Qutub Complex, it is located on the Sri Aurobindo Marg and the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar
Information on Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan

Metcalfe's House or Dilkhusha as it is known as was the second house built by Sir Thomas Metcalfe in 1830. He was a civil servant and appointed by the Governor General of India in the court of the last Mughul Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.  The first one was built near Old Delhi Civil Lines in Delhi. 
Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan
Metcalfe Guest House known as "the retreat" or "Dilkhusha" was designed like a country house in Mehrauli. Dilkhusha means "Delight of the Heart." built near the tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan. Tomb of Quli Khan was built in the 17th century. He was the brother of Adam Khan, who was the general and foster brother of Emperor Akbar. 
Interiors of Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan
The tomb was built on a platform made of stone. it was redone of lately. A series of arched doors lead to rooms below the tomb premises. They are currently empty. The tomb was painted white in color, but due to the rains, it has turned black. The tomb is octagonal in shape with a dome atop it. There are writings atop the door to the tomb. The dome and the ceiling has beautiful designs on them made of blue colored stone. 
Chhatri near the Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan
There is a Chhatri placed outside the tomb similar to the one near Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb.
Qutub Minar from the tomb arches
Thomas Metcalfe, considered it a location of strategic use, as he could keep a watch on Mughul Emperor Bahadur Zafar Shah, as he too had a summer palace there. Metcalfe resigned the Octagonal Tomb like a house with rooms in it, built gardens and follies around it. Making it appear like a European country house. The Guest House offered a wonderful view of the Qutub Minar in a distance. In was unable to locate the summer palace of the Emperor. 
Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan
A couple of metres away are a series of rooms made of stone. They have arched shaped doors to enter, but no roof. I believe the roof might have collapsed. We visted each of the rooms constructed by Metcalfe. Though the walls of it erotic graffiti on them. Sure some ignorant people have been here and wanted to leave their mark on it. This happens on most of the historical monuments in the country which are not manned. It also houses a fire place which is intact. No furniture here as it was vandalized. Though it was a sunny day, we felt refreshed in its premises. No wonder it was strategically designed. 
Sir Thomas Metcalfe's Guest House

The Fire Place in Guest House premises
Metcalfe wanted to earn additional income and so he rented it out to honeymooning couples. The renovation of the tomb to a guest house was done in 1830. It was let out to public till 1853. In the revolt of 1857 it was vandalized. Thereafter it was not in use and remained neglected.

Korlai Light House and Fort near Revdanda in Maharashtra

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Korlai Light House and Fort are located on a hill near the Korlai Village. It can be accessed by the Alibag-Murud Road. It is 6 KM away from Revdanda.
Korlai Fort on the hilltop

 After exploring Revdanda Beach and Fort yesterday, we decided to visit Korlai Light House and Fort. I had been to the Light House, in the past. During the Murud Road trip with my family. But due to shortage of time, I couldn't visit the fort.

As decided we set out at 7 AM the next morning to Revdanda ST Bus stop, to board any bus plying to Murud. We were informed that we were just 5 minutes late, else we would have been on the bus to Murud. Buses ply every 30 minutes to  Murud. These buses do a pit stop at Revdanda ST bus stand before leaving for Murud. 
The rocks at Korlai Beach
We decided to ask at the Rickshaw stand for fare to Korlai. Rs.150 for a one way trip to Korlai. The distance was just 6 KM. The price is too high and not negotiable. We headed back to the Revdanda Bus stand. 

Luckily we bumped into a rickshaw driver who had come there to drop some fisher women, he informed us that he could take us to Korlai Village located on the Alibag-Murud Road at a cost of Rs.15 each. To which we readily agreed. In about 15 minutes we were at Korlai Village. Form there we had the option of either walking out the 2 KM road to the base of the fort or board a rickshaw. 
Fortification of Korlai Fort
As it was early in the morning, we decided to walk it out. We crossed by the brightly painted houses of the fisher folk, the fishing boats parked near the shores, the blue colored fishing nets at the side of the road. The fisher folk looked at us as we walked with suspicious eyes. Not sure why, and we didn't bother asking either. 

It took us a little more than an hour's time to reach the Light House. The road is not in very good condition, it is made of uneven stones, making the journey difficult. So if you are coming by car, get a car with a good suspension kit. 
Revdanda Creek from Korlai Fort
The road, offers a wonderful view of the fortification of the fort on one side and the rocks near the shore, the sand and fishing boats in the waters on the other side. It was low tide and the waters were calm.

We finally reached the Light House. The caretaker showed us around the Light House at a cost of Rs.30 each. He enriched us with the history of the Light House. To know more about the history read my Murud Road trip. 
Manohar and Me at the Maha Darwaza of Korlai Fort
He then informed us to follow the steps to reach the entrance of the fort. Narrow step lead to the top of the fort, they are thorny shrubs near them, which might hurt you, we took a lot of care while climbing    up the stairs. Though they are steps the climb is exhaustive and with the heat, it was making the climb even more difficult. Finally we reached the top. 

The fortification had a small door, it didn't look like the Maha Darwaza or Main Entrance to the fort. I believe we were at the midpoint of the fort. From here, we we take a left then we go down to the rocks near the shores, there are some dilapidated structures there. The grass was waist high and swaying in the wind. Walking in it, gave me a experience similar to the one I had at Peth Fort in Karjat and Goa Fort in Harnai. As we were wearing shorts, walking in the grass was not comfortable, as we felt as if something, in the grass was continuously biting into our skins. That irritating feeling. "We should have worn shorts", Manohar said to me. 

That's Manohar near the fortification of Korlai
The hill offers a breath taking view of the Arabian Sea, and Light House on one side, the Revdanda Beach and Fort on the other. The long bridge over the creek, which we crossed to reach Korlai. 

The Korlai Fort called Morro or Castle Curlew, was built by the Portuguese in 1521. It was built to keep a watch on the Arabian Sea and the Revdanda Creek. It was built on the island Morro de Chaul. 
One of the many emblems atop Korlai Fort
The fortification, is still intact on this fort. Though certain portions are inaccessible due to thick grass growing  all around. The fort has a Church like structure atop it along with a temple for the religious, along with a couple of bastions, cannons and a rain water harvesting tank. 

As we walked inside the fort, we realized that the fort has a Maha Darwaza or Main Entrance, but it is on the other side. Not sea facing but creek facing. It has a couple of stone steps to reach it, but beyond that it is a narrow walk in the wild. I guess, the  way up from the Light House is a better way of reaching the top. 

A couple of emblems on stone are located in the fort premises, not sure what they mean. No translator available either. 
The Church like structure atop Korlai Fort
It took us around an hours time to sea the fort, we then walked down the stairs to the light house and from there to the main road to board a shared rickshaw to Revdanda Rickshaw stand at a cost of Rs.15 each. Had come refreshments and boarded a ST bus to Alibag. At a cost of Rs.38 each. It took  us around an hour's time to reach Alibag. 

We decided to have lunch as it was around 12:15 PM on my watch. We then rushed to the ferry booking office. Two of the operators informed us that the ferry is houseful and to check with the third one being Ajanta. What Luck. They had tickets available for us.

We boarded a tum tum at 1:10 PM. I inquired with the tum tum driver, if we would get the ferry as it departs at 2 PM. He informed us that the ferry will leave only after we board it. The Tum Tum reached us at Mandwa Jetty in 40 minutes flat. The bus which dropped us at Alibag the previous morning took about an hours time to reach. Hmm. "Tum Tum was faster that the bus." I said to myself.

Finally in the ferry and on our way to Mumbai. Again the waters were calm so it was a smooth ride. This journey was fun I should say, without the car, but with good connectivity of public transport we were able to cover two forts. I would recommend you to go visit these forts. All inclusive it cost us just Rs. 1000 each for a two day trip. Now that is what I call a budgeted trip.   

P.S. The fares of rickshaw and bus are subject to change. LOL

Other sea forts visited by me, which are built on islands are Arnala Fort, Sindhudurg Fort, Kelve Fort, Murud Janjira Fort, Kulaba, Undheri and Khanderi Fort in Alibag. 

Revdanda Fort at Revdanda near Alibag in Maharashtra

Monday, October 12, 2015

Revdanda Fort built by the Portuguese, is located on the shores of the Revdanda Beach near Alibag. Revdanda is around 17 KM away from Alibag and can be accessed by the Alibag Murud Road. It is located very near to the Fort and Light House at Korlai in Maharashtra.
Revdanda Fort at Revdanda Beach

I have been to Alibag and places around it in my previous trips. I have seen most of the forts it has in its vicinity. The only ones remaining to be conquered were Sagargad, Revdanda Fort and Korlai Fort.

As decided Manohar and I set out to visit the three forts on a overnight trip to Alibag. We boarded the first ferry to Alibag at a price of Rs.95 each. Note. there are three operators plying ferries to Alibag, the rates differ and so do the timings. 
Fortification of Revdanda Fort
Though it was the first ferry, it was quite empty.  The weather was gloomy, the sun had risen but the rays of the sun couldn't penetrate through the thick clouds to reach us. The waters were calm in the morning so not many ups and downs in the start of the day. 

In an hour's time we were at Mandwa Jetty, from there we boarded the bus to reach Alibag. Note. The price of the ticket (includes the price of the ferry and the bus ride). In another hour's time we were at Alibag. 
Tower within Revdanda Fort premises
We alighted here and headed off to the nearest eatery to have some breakfast. A strong meal at the start of the day. Though the time was just 8:15 AM on my watch, the heat was killing us. 

We then took some Rava cakes from a nearby Iyengar Bakery, food for us to eat on the way to Sagargad. Like Chinese Fast Food, Rava Cakes is become a must on most of our travel expeditions. 
Cannons within Revdanda Fort premises
Luckily we got a ST bus which was plying to Sagaon which stops at Khandale Village. We boarded the same and in a matter of 15 minutes we alighted at Khandale Village. The ticket cost us Rs.12 for two. This is the base village, from where the trek trail starts. 
Fortification of Revdanda, but couldn't access due to low tide

We inquired with a couple of locals in regards to the fort and the time it would take for us to reach the same. They informed us that it would take around 3 to 4 hours to reach the top of the fort. Though the climb is not difficult, but the trail is exhaustive. At 9:15 AM the heat was unbearable. We had to make a choice if we wanted to climb up or abort the plan. As the heat would kill us anyway. We decided to abort the plan. 
View of Korlai hillock from Revdanda fort
We then boarded a ST bus to Alibag Bus station. Note: the ordinary buses (Lal Dabba) stop here but not the Hirkani  ones. Tum Tum take around Rs.15 each. The later are forever packed with people. We opted to board the ST bus to Alibag. Again at a cost of Rs. 12 we were at Alibag Bus Depot. 
Structure in Revdanda Fort premises
Inquired with the locals. There are buses plying to and plying by Revdanda Bus Depot to go to Murud. So one can board any one of the two buses. There is a good frequency of buses here. They ply every 20 minutes. 
Emblem within the Revdanda fort premises
The bus journey is about an hour long and it cost us Rs.19 each. Again the driver will drive as if he is driving a formula one car along the narrow and curvy roads full of vehicles. It was a bumpy ride. I even wet my tees while trying to have some water. LOL.

A couple of KM away from the Revdanda Bus depot, we  started to see the fortification of the fort. I understood that the fort is huge and has got people living within its premises. Something similar to Vasai Fort near Mumbai. 
St Francis Xavier Chapel within the fort premises
We alighted at the Revdanda Bus Depot. Sadly there are no food eateries near the Bus Stand apart from the Shared Tum Tum and Private Rickshaw Stand. There are very few options available for overnight stay here. We got ourselves a room at a cost of Rs.600 for the night at Swagat Niwas located next to Raut Bungalow. The room was average. No TV and No Fridge. Hot water available in the morning, with Anglo Indian commode. 

Again there are only two eateries near the Revdanda beach and Fort. Though they are both on the main road.  Both are bars, one being a cheap one and the other catering to families. Surbhi Family Restaurant and Bar. Food is okay here. 
Ruins of old church in Revdanda fort premises
Note: In the rains it is common to have a electricity cut. So the village will not have electricity but Surbhi Restaurant and Bar has a generator so it is business as usual for them. 

After having lunch here, we inquired with a couple of locals and headed off to see Revdanda Fort. We climbed up the broken down walls of the fort to access the fort from the inside. The sea facing entrance can be accessed during low tide. The tide was high, hence we had to climb up the walls. 

A little bit of history. This fort was built by the Portuguese Captain Soj in 1558 and had named it Santa Maria de Castelo. It was later named as Rev Danda by the locals. 
Bus timings at Revdanda ST bus stand
The fort is densely populated with coconut trees and betul nut trees. Outside the fort premises the beach area has casuarina trees. So maybe the Portuguese planted these trees within the fort premises. 

The fort premises, it has a 4 storey tower and a couple of cannons within its walls. It also houses an old structure similar to that of a church, though it is in ruins now. It houses a Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. It is said that he delivered his earliest sermons while in India here.   Apart from it there are a couple of other ruins also. Not sure what they are, though they have emblems on them, which are not in English. It took us around 2 hours to explore the entire fort. 
Another structure in Revdanda Fort premises
We then headed off to the Bazaar area, which is around 2 KM away from Revdanda Beach. ST buses and share Tum Tum are available to go there. After picking up water we headed to the hotel. The water here is bore well water. 

We headed off to the beach to watch the sun go down on us. There was hardly any crowd at the beach.. We could see the Korlai Fort in a distance on a neighboring hillock. Sat on the sand to watch the calm waters. Soon  it was dusk and in a couple of minutes it was dark. There is a flood light put at the entrance of the beach. If you are wearing shorts, then apply Odomos (Mosquito repellent cream) else the mosquitoes will suck the blood out of you. They attack in huge nos. I was attacked. 
Bus timings at Revdanda ST bus stand
There was lighting but no thunder in the skies. The mosquito attack was unbearable for me and so we headed off to Hotel Surbhi at 7:30 PM to have dinner. The moment we entered, it started pouring heavily. Had we been at the beach, we would have been soaking wet by now. Due to the rains the power was cut in the village. The hotel has generator so we had electricity. Had a couple of beers along with chinese fast food. We then waited for the rain to reduce so that we could reach Swagat Niwas. Finally around 11 PM the rains reduced to a trickle and we made our way to the Niwas. 

The rain was so strong, that it filled some of the potholes on the road. 

Had to catch up on sleep as we had to leave for Korlai Light House and Fort the next morning.  

Suvarnadurg near Harnai Beach in Ratnagiri district inMaharashtra

Friday, October 9, 2015

After exploring Goa Fort near the Harnai Beach and Fattegad, we headed over to the jetty at the base of the Light House at Kanak Durga, to board a ferry to Suvarnadurg Fort. 
Manohar, Neha and Me with Suvarnadurg in the background

We were at the jetty at 3:15 PM. Not a soul was there apart from some crows, who gave us company. 

We saw a couple of fishing boats in the waters. They had a tri color hoisted atop it, but it was not the flag of India.  It didn't have the Ashoka Chakra in it. 

The time was now 3:30 PM on my watch and it was just us there. How come no one has come to see the fort, is the question we all had in our minds.

I walked up to a local who was sitting by the road and cleaning his fishing net. I asked him if the ferry departs from there. To which he replied that it does depart from there, but currently due to the rains the service is closed. But there are no rains at all, it was a hot sunny day. He told me that the services will resume post Dusshera. i.e around Nov 1. He informed me that the services shut down again in the last week of May due to the rains.

Wrong timing I guess. So close but so far. I asked if he would take us along if we pay him a premium, to which he declined. I inquired if we could walk it out to the beach as it was low tide. He declined as certain portions  of the waters are deep. Unlike Kulaba Fort in Alibag which can be done by walking in low tide.

Kulaba, Undheri and Khanderi in Alibag, Murud Janjira at Rajapuri, Sindhudurg in Malvan and Arnala Fort in Virar, are some of the forts which require a ferry to visit them. 

Looks like we will have to club it with other beaches in Malvan post November. 
View of Suvarnadurg from Goa fort
We then headed off to Mumbai. Now it was around 243 KM away. We filled up petrol in our car had some refreshments and headed off. Driving on the narrow roads in the dark requires a lot of experience. A big Thanks to Manohar who drove us safely back to Mumbai. We reached our start point at 10:30 PM. 

This trip was fun and budgeted too. Total damages inclusive of all was just Rs.1800. Aha

Goa fort at Harnai Beach in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

After being disappointed at Fattegad Fort, we headed over to sea Goa Fort. 
Land Entrance to Goa Fort
The fort has got strong fortification all over. We entered through the main door or Maha Darwaza from the land side. There is another entrance from the sea, but it is closed to public as it is blocked by bricks. 
Panoramic view of Goa Fort from the inside
The fort is  built in such a way that a portion of the fort is on land and the other is surrounded by sea. Something similar to Vijaydurg fort near Devgad and Shirgaon Fort in Palghar. 

We immediately climbed up the walls of the fort to get a good view of the fort, both from inside and outside. Not many structures within the fort. But the fort premises was green in color with a couple of buffaloes who posed for photos the moment they saw the camera phone in my hand. 
Manohar and Me in the fort premises
While walking in the waist length green grass, I felt like Russel Crowe, walking in the fields while heading home in the movie Gladiator. Had a similar experience at Peth Fort in Karjat, where we walked in the golden hay while approaching the fort. 
Fortification of Goa Fort
Certain portions of the fort have been newly constructed and they did have white colored tiles atop it. 

Again it is not known as to who built this fort. Please don't be confused between the State of Goa and Goa Fort as they are miles apart from each other. This fort was again built to keep a tab on Suvarnadurg Fort. 
Buffaloes in the fort premises
In the middle of the fort, there is a rampart leading to a structure atop it, it is covered with waist length grass. 

This heighten structure is located somewhat in the middle of the fort and offers a wonderful 360 degree view of the fort. 
Panoramic View of Suvarnadurg and sea from Goa Fort
Broken fortification and shore that is visible only during low tide at Goa Fort
It  took  us around 30 minutes to explore this fort, we then headed to the jetty located at the foot of KanakDurg fort to board a ferry to Suvarnadurg fort. 
Bastions of Goa Fort
Bastions of Goa Fort

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