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Label : Must Visit

Tags : Forts & Palaces

Timings : 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

Entry Fee : INR 5

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Alibaug Fort

Kolaba fort, Alibaug Overview

Situated amidst the sea and surrounded by waters of Arabian sea from all sides, Kolaba fort or Alibag fort is one of the most important tourist attraction in Alibag. It is a 300-year old fort which was once chief naval stations during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtra. This isolated military fortification located amidst the Arabian sea is a spectacular sight. Located not more than 2 kilometres from the Alibaug beach, it can be reached by foot during low tides, but during high tides, a boat must be hired. The walk is quiet and scenic as the area is scarcely populated with only a few beachgoers here and there.

The area within the fort itself is dotted with historical artefacts and vestiges such as cannons and carvings of animals and birds on the fort walls. Old temple buildings are also present here. Although the mighty fort is in the middle of the sea, surrounded by water on all four sides, an important hallmark is the presence of freshwater well in the fort premises. A temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, built by Raghoji Angre in the year 1759, is also present in the premises and is still worshipped by the fishermen from the area. 

As one of the most prominent forts in Maharashtra, its strategic location helped operate it as a chief naval station and a stronghold for launching attacks on British troops. The opulent fort is now a popular tourist destination and the primary attraction of the idyllic town. The Kolaba Fort has been designated a nationally protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) due to its historical importance.

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Architecture of Kolaba Fort

The construction of the fort in itself is a masterpiece. Located in the Arabian sea, it has two entrances. One entrance opens into the sea and another one on the shores of Alibag. The average height of the fort is 25 feet. The most interesting feature is its freshwater wells that supply fresh water despite the fact that regal fort is built in the middle of the sea. There are several temples located inside the premises of Kolaba fort dedicated to Hindu Gods which are now used by the local temples to offer their prayers and celebrate festivals.

British Invasion in Kolaba Fort

After the invasion of Kanhoji Agre, Kolaba fort was prominently used to raid British ships during the independence movements in the year 1700's. The eminent location of the fort helped Kanhoji to make strategic attacks on the British armies. In the year 1721, the British forces joined hands with Portuguese to capture the fort and overthrow Kanhoji. The attacks failed massively. In the year, 1729 Kanhoji died, and soon after his death, the fire broke in Pinjarra Bastion, burning down many historical buildings including some parts of Kolaba Fort. The fortress was later taken over by British in the year 1842.

History of Kolaba Fort

For hundreds of years, the Kolaba Fort served as a shelter and stronghold for the armies of the Shivaji empire and later the Portuguese and the East India Company. This was one of the many forts captured by Shivaji Maharaj's army in the 17th century, and it is said that the Alibaug Fort was supposedly his last construction project before his demise.

Its reinforcement was completed by Shivaji Maharaj's prodigal son, Sambhaji Maharaja, after his untimely death in 1680. The authority of the fort was given to Darya Sagar and Manik Bhandari, two sardars of Shivaji Maharaja's army, until Kanhoji Angre, the admiral of the Maratha navy took over command in 1713 until his death in 1729. During these years, British ships were havocked by occasional raids and loots of possessions by the Maratha Navy.

The battle of 1721 is the most notable of the battles fought here, where the British and Portuguese armies conspired to attack Kolaba but were unsuccessful due to various reasons. The Kolaba Fort once housed gardens, stables, treasuries and other buildings, most of which were exhumed and destroyed during fires.

Things To See at Kolaba Fort

The magnificent fort, being situated in the sea, offers lovely tranquil views of the Arabian Sea over the horizon. The pleasant sea breeze coupled with the history of the fort captivates your senses with utmost charm. The architectural brilliance of the builders to erect such an imposing structure (25 feet) on a small rock face is a testament to exceptional craftsmanship and engineering.

Centuries of history are visible on the fort walls in the form of carvings of elephants, peacocks and tigers. The fortification still holds some of the age-old cannons that were used to attack enemies during battles. Despite being in the middle of the sea, there is a freshwater well here, much to the shock of people! 

A handful of temples are present in the Kolaba Fort, most notable being the Siddhivinayak Temple which was built in 1759, by Raghoji Angre. The other ones are Mahishasura and Padmavati temples. Besides the temples, there is a dargah of Haji Kamaluddin Shah on the premises.

Best Time To Visit Kolaba fort

You can visit the Kolaba Fort any time of the year but the months from November to July are considered ideal times to visit the fort because of the pleasant weather. The monsoon months can bring in a lot of rainfall, due to which there are persistent high tides.

Tips For Visiting Kolaba fort

1. It is important to note that routes to the fort that is accessible by foot during low tides, submerge underwater during high tides and a boat ride is required. So plan your visit accordingly.
2. You can hire horse carts along the beach for a special experience.

How To Reach Kolaba Fort

The Kolaba Fort is easily reachable by sea from Mumbai, which is only 35 kilometres away. If you are proceeding from Mumbai, speedboats or ferries can be hired at Gateway of India. The nearest jetties in Alibaug are in Mandwa and Rewas from where regular ferry service is provided all the way to Mumbai - duration of about 45 minutes. They are usually present from sunrise till sunset.

Mumbai is the nearest major city and it is approximately 100kilometress by road. Daily state transport buses operate to Alibaug from Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Nashik. The nearest railway station is at Pen which is 30 kilometres away.

Kolaba fort is located at a distance of 1-2 k from the shores of Alibag. The local transport such as private taxis, autorickshaws is well developed. You can reach the fort from Alibag shores by waddling through the waters in low tides, but during the high tides, you need a boat to reach the fort premises.

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