India Viajes by the sea has always been fascinating. There are beaches of Goa that have been the haunt of hippies since the 70s and are known for their raving night parties. Family beaches of Kerala offer you the calm and peace, the cosiness and romance, the tropical beauty and fresh coconut water – idyllic for a perfect vacation. Mumbai beaches are more like carnivals with crowds of families, picnic goers, unknown strangers, and occasional celebrities walking by the sea, playing with the sands, and enjoying themselves. The three sea forts and an unsung coral reef down the Konkan Coast may not have been mentioned in your favourite travel magazine and may not have been the highlights of many India Tours but they are intriguing and interesting, all the same.
Konkan Coast is a part of West Coast of India and the region mostly falls under Maharashtra. It is quite close to Mumbai and Konkani culture forms an interesting study during a cultural tour of India. With some of the most impeccable white sandy beaches, Konkan Coast has many astounding surprises.
The Siddis – originally the spice traders from Africa, who happened to be washed ashore in India on a stormy night in the 17th century, built the Fort of Janjira. The then-king of Murud – Rajaram Patil – refused to give shelter to them but failed to oust these fearless warriors, when they refused to leave. Siddis built their fort in 22 acres of land, in 22 years, with 22 bastions. 90-ft tall and 20-ft deep, the Fort of Janjira has remained ‘invincible’ to date and the brave Marathas, the crafty Portuguese, and the mighty British could not conquer it. It is believed that the Fort is blessed by the powers of a Sufi saint called Peer Panchatan Baba, whose tomb is right there at the entrance of the fort. Devotees believe that even sea bows down to the saint; and tidal waves, as high as 40 ft in the monsoons, merely touch his feet and retreat.
At Harnai, the busiest port on the Konkan Coast, you can find a ferry ride to the fort of Suvarnadurg (translated as the Fort of Gold). The fort of the famous guerrillas of Marathas, the main entrance to the fort is well camouflaged and is not easily visible until you are quite close by. The white sandy beaches stretched out before Suvarnadurg provides you with the much-needed peace and solitude while the maze of ‘Chor Darwaazas’ or escape routes add an element of mystery and intrigue to the fort’s legends. It is said that there is a sea tunnel too, meant for the use of soldiers at the fort, so that they could go and fetch reinforcements, when required.
Worthy of being the highlight of Forts and Palaces Tours of India, Sindhudurg is the best fort of Marathas. It is special not only for its antiquity but also for the fact that it was built under the personal supervision of great Shivaji himself, who led to the rise of Marathas. Footprints and handprints of Shivaji are well preserved inside this sturdy fort with a foundation of solid lead and walls covered with 1500 tonnes of iron! Right behind the fort, you will find the most panoramic, most immaculate, most unspoilt beach in the world – complete with coral reefs that will remind you of Andaman Islands – another paradise in India but then that is another story.
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