About Kolaba Fort
Encircled by the clear blue waters of the Arabian sea and offering some of the most gorgeous views around, Kolaba fort is a historical building located in Alibaug. The fort is nearly 300 years old and it once acted as one of the major naval stations during the time when Shivaji Maharaj ruled in Maharashtra. The spectacular fort was once an isolated military fortification in the middle of the Arabian Sea, and had a strategic geographical importance for the Marathas when it came to warfare.
The fort is located just two kilometres from the Alibaug Beach, and if there is a low tide you can easily reach this place by walking here. However if there is a high tide you will have to hire a boat to visit the fort. If you happen to take a walk to the fort, you will be delighted by the serene and tranquil quality of the area, as this region is very thinly populated and only a few people go to the fort.
The fort itself is full of historical artifacts and various paraphernalia of its golden period. You will find huge cannons and sculptures of various birds and animals on the walls of the fort. You can also find various old temple buildings here. In fact, there is a Lord Ganesh temple that is present within the grounds and is still used as a place of worship by the local fishermen community. The fort is surrounded by the sea waters on all its sides, and a significant hallmark worth noting is the presence of a freshwater well within the fort.
The fort held an important geographical advantage for the Marathas and was used as a Chief Naval Station for planning strategic attacks on the British army. Nowadays it is a popular tourist attraction and one of the most important destinations in the town. The Archaeological Survey of India has declared it as a Nationally Protected Monument due to its historical significance.
How to Reach Kolaba Fort
You can reach Kolaba Fort easily from Mumbai via sea. The fort is only 35 km away, and you can easily get a speed boat or ferry from Gateway of India to the Fort. The nearest jetty to Alibaug is in Mandawa and Rewas. The ferry services from Mumbai to these places are provided on a regular basis from sunrise to sunset and the entire journey takes about 45 minutes.
When it comes to traveling by road, Mumbai is the nearest major city and it is located nearly a hundred kilometers away. You can get a state transport bus to Alibaug from Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Kolhapur.
The railway station nearest to Alibaug is Pen, and it is located 30 kilometers away. The station is well-connected to railways from Mumbai. When you reach the station, you can take an auto or taxi to the Fort.
Kolaba Fort is just one kilometer away from the beaches of Alibaug. That is why you can easily hire a private taxi or auto rickshaw to reach the shore. If the tide is low, you can walk to the Fort from the shore, but if the tide is high, you will have to hire boat services.
Best Time to Visit Kolaba Fort
The best time to visit the fort is during the winter months, that is from October to February. This is because during this time of the year, the weather is quite pleasant and cool. Thus, it is ideal for sightseeing and enjoying the natural beauty all around the fort.
On the other hand it is not recommended to visit the fort during monsoons, that is between July and September. This is because this region sees a lot of precipitation during the rainy season. As a result, there are chances of persistent high tides during this season. Thus it may not be safe or even possible to reach the fort during this time.
Additionally during the summer months, that is between March and June, these parts of the country get quite hot and unbearable. Therefore, it may not be possible to go sightseeing during this weather. The beaches are especially hot and scorching. Therefore it is not recommended to visit the fort during this time.
What Not to Miss at Kolaba Fort
Things to See at Kolaba Fort
1. Since the fort is located in the middle of the sea, it offers some of the most transcendent views of the Arabian sea. The clear blue expanse spread out as far as the eye can see, surrounding you, and bathing you in the sea breeze is a truly unparalleled experience. The location of the fort, its picturesque views, and the serene quality of its environment are certainly reasons for visiting this unique fort.
2. The architectural magnificence of the fort is another reason why it is so famous among tourists, especially architecture students and experts. The imposing structure is built on a small hill – which in itself is a feat worth admiring. Thus, people also come here to witness this testament to unparalleled engineering and craftsmanship of that time.
3. The walls of the fort act as a mirror, showing the visitors the history of the time period in which it was built. It has a wide variety of cravings in the form of elephants, peacocks, tigers and whatnot. Additionally, military enthusiasts will want to look at the various artefacts and vestiges of the wars that this fort withstood, including centuries-old cannons.
4. One of the most interesting features of the fort that is worth a look is the freshwater well that is located in the middle of the fort. Besides, there are also a bunch of temples in the fort. The most popular spiritual building in the complex is Siddhivinayak temple that was built by Raghoji Angre in 1759. There are also some temples dedicated to Mahishasura and Padmavati. There is also a dargah dedicated to Haji Kamaluddin Shah that is worth checking out.
Places to visit near Kolaba Fort
Here are some of the most interesting places to visit near the fort:
1. Alibaug Beach : Also popular as the blackest sand beach of India, this place is extremely famous among locals as well as tourists. Besides enjoying the natural scenery of the beach, you can also get some extremely tasty snacks on the food stores lining the sea shores. Various types of water sports such as banana boat rides horse and camel rides are also available on this beach.
2. Magnetic Observatory : Popular as one of the most important observatories around the entire world, this place has quite a significant role as it offers observations regarding geomagnetism. Moreover, the compass of the Indian Navy and the Air Stations of Indian Coast Guard are also calibrated to this Observatory.
3. Kanhoji Angre Samadhi : Kanhoji Angre was a Navy Chief in the Maratha Navy in the 1700s. He fought bravely against various enemy factions including the Dutch, the British, and the Portuguese. It is believed that despite the best efforts by the foreign powers, the man remained undefeated till death. That is why his Samadhi still receives so many tourists.
4. Pushkarna Kund : Located near the Kanakeshwar temple, the circular water tank has sprouted some interesting stories in the region. It is located in a very desolate area, and is surrounded by thick forests. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but adventurous tourists do like to visit the kund.
5. Kanakeshwar Devasthan : Dedicated to Lord Shiva and housing an idol of the God that is 54 feet, the temple is an extremely beautiful building. The temple is quite popular among locals as well as tourists. It is nestled on the top of a hill, and you will need to climb 5000 stairs to get to the top. So, make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
Other Essential Information About Kolaba Fort
Location: Alibag, Maharashtra 402201, India
Timing: the fort is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day, including weekends.
Entry Fee: The entry is almost free as the charges are very nominal. The government charges only INR 5 per person for visiting the Kolaba fort. However, there are special charges for other activities, like a horse cart ride to the fort during low tide will cost you INR 70.
History of Kolaba Fort
For hundreds of years, the fort acted as a place of shelter for the Maratha Army as well as an important stronghold for the Shivaji Empire. Later on, it played quite a significant roll for the Portuguese Invaders and the East India Company. Kolaba Fort is considered to be one of the many forts captured by the army of Shivaji Maharaj in the late 17th century and it is also believed that this was one of the last construction projects by him before his death.
Construction of the Fort as well its reinforcement was completed by Sambhaji Maharaj, after his father, Shivaji passed away in 1680. After that, Darya Sagar and Manik Bhandari who were two sardars of Shivaji’s army, were given control of the fort. The Fort remained under their command till 1713, when Kanhoji Angre, the admiral of the Navy of the Marathas, took it over. The fort remained under his command until 1729 when he passed away. During this time the Maratha navy wreaked havoc on the British ships by raiding them and looting their possessions.
One of the most renowned battles fought here was the battle of 1721 when the British and Portuguese armies made plans to attack the fort. However, they were unsuccessful in capturing the fort due to a variety of reasons. In its heyday, the Fort had plenty of gardens. treasuries, stables and a wide variety of other buildings. However most of these structures were destroyed during the many fires that engulfed the estate.
Architecture of Kolaba Fort
The architecture of the Fort is a masterpiece and offers a unique glimpse into the style of that era. The fort is located in the middle of the Arabian Sea and it has two main gates through which you can enter. One of the gates open right into the Arabian Sea and the other one is located on the sandy shores of the town.
The fort stands at a staggering height of 25 feet. One of the most interesting features of the fort is that despite being located in the middle of the sea and being surrounded by salty water, it has a well within the grounds that supplies fresh water. There are also several temples located within the grounds of the Fort. All the temples are dedicated to various Hindu deities and are used by the local fishermen community to worship the Gods. People also visit the temples to offer their prayers and celebrate festivals every year.
The Fort is dotted with a variety of historical artefacts ranging from military cannons to a wide range of other paraphernalia.You can also see various vestiges like drawings of many birds and animals on the walls of the fort.
Tips for Visiting Kolaba Fort
Here are some tips to help make your trip to the fort pleasant and comfortable:
1. It is important to wear appropriate clothes according to the season. If you are planning your visit during summers, you should wear light and airy clothes. In winters, you should have a jacket, and in monsoon, you should carry an umbrella.
2. The tide height greatly affects the transportation services here. So, make sure that the tide is not high when you visit if you want to walk to the fort.
3. If you want to walk to the fort, make sure you wear water-proof shoes.
4. Make sure you carry some snacks and a water bottle with you.
5. You should also carry some necessary medications, especially if you are taking a ferry. Sea sickness can affect a lot of people, and you should carry medicines for it if you are prone to it.
6. Do not litter around the fort and try to maintain the cleanliness of the fort. Also, do not mark the walls or make any pictures.
7. There are no signs or pointers to give directions or reveal the importance of different structures. So, it’s better if you do your research before you visit.
8. The fort is in quite a desolate area. If you are weak-hearted, do not visit the place after dark as it can get quite eerie.