The western Indian state of Maharashtra is home to over 350 majestic forts, and some of them have been strategically built in the midst of the Arabian Sea, referred to as ‘Sea Forts’. Standing as a testimony to the excellent craftsmanship and the many dynasties that ruled them for centuries, discover the six picturesque sea forts in Maharashtra that are worthy of a visit.
Arguably the most magnificent sea fort in Maharashtra, the Murud-Janjira Fort is guaranteed to impress. Standing strong and tall off the Arabian Sea coast near the coastal town of Murud, this sea fort was built in the 17th-century by the regent of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmednagar, Malik Ambar, and it was the only fort on India’s western coast to have never been conquered or occupied by the British or other rulers. Accessible only via boat from the Rajapuri jetty, this oval-shaped fort features 26 rounded bastions that have not given up to the sun or crashing sea waves. The fort wall is approx. 40 feet (12.19 meters) high and within that lies the ruins of a bath, a mosque and a palace. One of the major highlights, however, are the three enormous cannons, named Landa Kasam, Kalalbangdi and Chavri. Visitors can saunter inside to linger for a while in the past. Luxury yachts and speedboat tours from the gateway of India, Mumbai, are also organised to the fort by Yacht Tours Mumbai.
Murud-Janjira Fort, Maharashtra, India, +91 022 2204 4040 ; Monday to Sunday: 7:00am – 6:30pm
Once a strong naval base of the Kingdom of Maratha, the Sindhudurg Fort now serves as a major tourist attraction. Covering some 48 acres with a two-mile long defensive wall that is 9.1 meters high and 3.7 meters wide, the Sindhudurg Fort is nothing short of grand. To give a better indication of its scale, more than 4,000 pounds of lead was used in its foundation, and as a result, it still stands intact today. Built in the 17th-century by the king of Maratha Empire, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, this sea fort houses a temple dedicated to him, which is perhaps the only temple of Shivaji Maharaj in the country. The fort can be reached by a ferry, which is easily available from Malvan. During rainy season, the fort remains closed due to high tides.
Sindhudurg Fort, Malvan, Maharashtra, India, +91 1800 22 9930; Monday to Sunday: 9:00am-5:00pm
Built in the 13th-century by Raja Bhoja II of Shilahara kingdom and later restructured in the 17th-century by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Vijaydurg Fort is supposedly one of the oldest forts on the coast of Sindhudurg. Within its perimeters lie several monuments, though in ruins, but exemplify the Maratha architectural style. Besides, this fort holds a great historical significance as it was among the Maratha forts, where Shivaji Maharaj hoisted the Saffron flag. Also, it has an underground tunnel that leads to the coast. But nowadays, it is partially blocked! Aside from its historical and architectural grandiose, the location of the fort – surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides and Waghotan Creek – is a major draw card that allures scores of visitors. This fort is easily accessible by road from Mumbai and Pune.
Vijaydurg Fort, MSH 4, Vijaydurg Fort, Vijaydurg, Maharashtra, India Monday to Sunday: 8:00am-6:30pm
A masterpiece of the Maratha architecture, the 17th-century Kolaba Fort, otherwise known as the Alibag Fort is nestled in the Arabian Sea and features two entrances – one opens on the Alibag shores and the other in the sea. This sea fort has managed to survive the passage of time, and inside you will still find a freshwater well, a few temples, cannons, and beautiful carvings of birds and animals on the walls. Its location – perched 25 feet (7.62 meters) above the sea level and surrounded by the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea from all sides makes it especially spectacular. During the low tide, it is accessible by foot, while during high tide, the only way to reach it is via boat ride from Alibag beach.
Kolaba Fort, Alibag, Maharashtra, India, +91 1800 22 9930; Monday to Sunday: 10:00am-5:00pm
Admittedly, the 17th-century Suvarnadurg Fort isn’t as grand as the other sea forts on the list, but it’s impressive nonetheless. It was primarily constructed for defence purposes. Though it lies in a dilapidated state, its large bastions and massive stone blocks continue to stun visitors. The only way to reach this astonishing ruin is via boat from the Harnai Port.
Located approx. 4.9 miles from Alibaug near Thal, the Underi Fort and its sister fort Khanderi were once the largest and major defences during the Maratha rule. Served as a sturdy protector against the Siddi and the British in the 17th-century, this sea fort still stands tall in the Arabian Sea. Most visitors come to enjoy the picturesque setting and gaze upon the fortification wall, which is over 400-years-old. This sea fort can only be visited during low tide via small boat from the Thal beach; while Khanderi fort can be visited anytime of the year.