The Korlai Fort is one of the few remaining
structures of the colonial regime and was constructed in the year 1521 on an
island to protect the Revdanda creek from attacks of the enemies. The fort is
situated on an elevated surface overlooking the mighty Arabian Sea and served
as a military fortification for the Portuguese armies during the year 1500. The
island on which it is positioned was referred to as Morro De Chaul by the
Portuguese, which translates into ‘a small hill populated by Portuguese’. The forces
of nature have been harsh on this magnificent structure and have withered its
charm away. However, various establishments within the fort resonate the rich
history and bravery shown by the armies of the bygone era.
The Korlai Fort is massive and intimidating.
The fort occupies an area of about 2828 feet in length and 89 feet in breadth
and overlooks a small hamlet belonging to the fishermen. It is said that in the
past, the fort was large enough to accommodate more than 7000 horses and many
men. Being built on hilly terrain, the fort had a strategic advantage over the
infiltrators. The slope around the fort, towering lighthouse and eleven
humongous gateways made it difficult for the enemies to trespass into the fort
From the top of the fort, you will get a
mesmerizing view the blue sea water glistening in the sun and the waves hitting
the rocky shore of the beach. The ambience around the fort is serene and the
clean waters of the sea with ruins of the fort in the backdrop makes this place
an amazing place to unwind from a stressful day. This place is the perfect
destination for photographers and nature lovers, and evenings are the best time
to visit if you wish to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the horizon. It is a
must-visit place for those looking for a break from the fast-paced city life.
More on Korlai Fort
History of Korlai Fort
Korlai Fort was formerly known as Ceul Rock
and was constructed by the Portuguese under the supervision of Ahmednagar
Sultanate. The construction of the fort was completed by the year 1521 and it
was supposed to serve as a mutually dependent and controlled site of trade and
operation of the two regimes, namely Portuguese and the Muslims. However, the
situation got messy between both the regimes in 1594. A Portuguese captain
named Abraches marched to the fort with 1500 soldiers and annexed the fort. It
is said that the army camped inside the fort tried to prevent the attack by
positioning a dead elephant at the main gate and a dead horse at the inner
The Portuguese army vandalized most parts of
the fort except for the watchtower situated in the centre of the fort. Sambhaji
Maharaja, who was the son of Maharaj Shivaji initiated an attack on the fort on
6th December 1687 but failed terribly. Finally, in 1739, the Marathas took over the fort from
the Portuguese and ruled the area till 1818.
The fort was under the control of East Indian
Company and British Raj from 1818 till the time of Independence of India. Few
sections of the Fort like churches were renovated and were used by the general
public on holidays and weekends. The Fort has been a part of various kingships
and hence, is of keen interest to many historians and travellers.
Construction of Korlai
The Korlai Fort is a massive fortification
that is 2828 feet long and 89 feet wide. It is said to have accommodated around
7000 horses and many men in the past. You will be fascinated to see a bronze
lion statue place in a guarding position near the main entrance of the fort. A
bronze eagle is also installed over the tallest watchtower.
The fort constitutes eleven gateways of which
four are situated outside and seven inside. The area within the fort is divided
into three sections by fortifications. The fort also houses a church which was
constructed in 1630 and was vandalized in 1728. However, during the British
rule, it was renovated and used for prayer services on weekends.
There are many Portuguese inscriptions located
within the fort premises. One is situated over the doorway, surmounted by a
coat of arms. The other two undecipherable inscriptions are located near the
main entrance and at the altar of the chapel. The fort, although in ruins, is
an endearing historical site.
One for the few remaining structures of the
fort is the lighthouse. A spiral
staircase leads to the top of the lighthouse and from here, you can get an
amazing view of the sea and the beach. The tower is surrounded by a splendid
garden which is packed with a variety of flowers and shrubs.
Things to See at Korlai Fort
Korlai Fort is known for its raw beauty and
rich history. Various tourists visit this place to get an enchanting view of
Revdanda creek, glistening waters of Arabian Sea and of course the ruins of the
fort. The fort is one of the major attractions of the place mainly due to the
long history associated with it. World-famous water reservoir, Santa Cruz is
also located towards the northern end of this fort.
Of the few enchanting establishments within
the fort is the lighthouse. It is operational to date and can be reached from
the southern gate of the fort. The fort
also houses few inscriptions written in Kristi dialect of Portuguese. They can
be traced near the main door and at the altar of the church. You will be fascinated
to know that Kristi dialect is still used by a few residents of Korlai.
Best Time to Visit
There is no restriction to entering the fort
and can be visited during any time of the year. However, the best time to visit
Korlai Fort is during the monsoon and winter months. Summer season is quite hot
and the heat is unbearable. The temperature might soar up to 40 degrees Celcius
Tips for Visiting Korlai Fort
1. The most convenient way to enter the fort
is thought its southern gate located towards the lighthouse. This gate is
easily accessible by those travelling to the site via bus.
2. Wear comfortable footwear as the best and
the only way to explore the fort is by foot.
3. If you are keen to know about the fort and
its rich history then it is recommended to hire a guide, who will also assist
you with the directions within the fort.
4. There aren’t plenty of eateries around the
fort, however, you can buy a few snacks and cold drinks from a shop located
beside the lighthouse.
6. If visiting during the summers, beware of
How to Reach Korlai Fort?
The Korlai Fort is easily accessible from
major cities such as Mumbai and Pune via road. Both private and state buses
provide efficient and timely services from these cities to Korlai Fort. Nearby
towns such as Murud, Roha and Alibaug are also well connected by state
transport. The nearest railway station is in Pen, which is situated about 50
kilometres from Korlai.
If you are planning to visit the fort from
Alibaug then you will have to first head towards Kundalika River and after
crossing it, take the first right. Once you reach the village you can ask any
stranger about the fort and s/he will guide you accordingly. The road that
connects Alibaug to Korlai is bumpy with many potholes, however, the
picturesque view of the fort compensates for a bad journey.
The fortress does not have a large parking
space and can accommodate only ten cars. From here, you will have to climb
around 100 stairs to reach the fort.