Travel Stories and Histories – Kulaba Fort Alibaug

“Still around the corner, they may wait, a new road or a secret gate” – JRR Tolkien

Travelling is the thing I miss the most these days. So I have decided to write about my numerous travels all over India and all over the world. Thanks to my parents’ bohemian soul, we have travelled a lot and visited some offbeat and some not-so offbeat places. Inheriting their love for travel, I have ventured out on my own too and have found myself on many new roads and in front of many secret gates!

I have collected memories and adventures on each trip. So here’s a try at writing a travelogue along with some historical “dnyan” (knowledge). Today’s story is about my first road trip with my school friends.   

It’s true what they say, unplanned trips always work out the best! This was perhaps my first and the only truly unplanned trip. On a spur of the moment we decided we needed a break. We needed to reconnect after leaving school. The weekend was just starting and respective colleges could be easily bunked. Alibaug was randomly decided as our destination as it is easily accessible from Mumbai via Ferry. The only possible hinderance would have been taking permission from our parents to go out on a all girls trip without proper planning.

But much to our surprise, they all agreed and we just packed our backs and left. This was the time when none of us had a smart phone. I don’t think the android phones were even introduced then. So we just picked up a travel booklet on Alibaug and left. The freedom and thrill was unimaginable!

We took a ferry from Apollo Bunder, Mumbai (The Gateway of India) to Mandva, Alibaug. After an hour long ferry ride we got down in Alibaug and a short bus ride took us in the heart of the city. We decided to try out a hostel mentioned in the tourist booklet. I do not recollect the name of the resort now, but it was quaint and beautiful. We booked ourself a cottage facing the  beach and after a quick rest headed out to the sea.

 

The breezy ambience helped us unwind and stories of college life, school gossips and heartbreaks were shared. There’s nothing like chatting with people whom you have known since your first day in school. We spent a good part of the night camping out on the beach, singing and dancing around the bonfire.

The next day we visited the local market and spent our day idling around in cafes and restaurants. On the third day of our trip, we visited the Kulaba Fort also sometimes called as the Alibaug fort.

 

History:

Kulaba Fort is an old military fortification in Coastal Maharashtra, India. It is a sea fort situated at a distance of 1–2 km from the shores of Alibag, in the Konkan region. The construction of this popular tourist destination was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and completed by his Shambhaji Maharaj after his death. This protected monument was chosen as one of the chief naval stations during the Maratha rule.

The command of the fort was given to Darya Sarang and Mainak Bhandari under whom Kolaba Fort became the centre of the Maratha attacks on British ships. In 1713 as a part of the treaty, Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath havded over the charge of Kolaba fort along with several other forts to Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre. Angre, the Commander of the Maratha navy, used Kulaba fort as his main base from which to launch raids on the ships of the colonial powers. The brave Maratha warrior breathed his last on this fort.

Following two major fire incidents in 1729 and 1787, most of the fort was destroyed. The remaining woodwork was auctioned and the British used the stones for the construction of the waterworks in Alibaug.

 

 

Built Heritage:

The average height of the fort walls is 25 feet. It has two main entrances, one on the seaside and the other that opens towards Alibaug. Despite of being situated 1-2 km into the sea, this fort has freshwater wells in its premises.

There are temples dedicated to Mahishasuramardini and Devi Padmawati. Raghoji Angre built the Siddhivinayak temple inside the fort in 1759.

The fort has a few houses meant for people to take care of that fort. However there are no permanent inhabitants.

The fort also houses a Dargah of Haji Kamaluddin Shah. Near the northern wall of the fort lie, two English cannons mounted on wheels. The inscription on the cannon is “Dowson Hardy Field, Low Moor Ironworks, Yorkshire, England”.

 

 

Access:

The fort is accessible during the low sea tide timings. However, at high tide, boats can be used to reach it. In the monsoons, the fort can be reached by wading through waist-deep to ankle-deep water at low tide. There are horse carts available to facilitate better and easy approach.

The trip was one of the best ones and unfortunately we haven’t been able to go on such trips again. With each of us busy with out lives, different cities, different timezones… but the memories are still alive and still form a part of our conversations even today.

Here’s wishing to more of such trips. For the old times sake!

 


© 2021 Ashwini Nawathe, Kaleidoscope of My Life
All Rights Reserved

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