Sindhudurg – The might sea fort!

The sea fort, Sindhudurg (‘Sindhu’ means sea and ‘durg’ means fort) was an integral part of the Maratha empire and a prominent fortress during Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s reign.

The fort is set on an isle in the Arabian sea near the shores of Malvan in Sindhudurg district, Konkan in Maharashtra. The construction of the fort was done under the supervision of Shivaji’s chief architect and builder Hiroji Indalkar. Shivaji himself selected the rocky island on which the fort now stands as a strategic position to ward of foreign invaders and also to keep check on the Siddis of Murud-Janjira as they were in alliance with the Mughals.

Also Read: Beauty of Taj Mahal

The construction of the fort started on 25th November 1664 and within three years the fort was complete. The fort spans over 48 acres with walls as high as 30 feet with a thickness of about 12 feet. These massive walls safe guard the fort against both the invading enemies and the violent forces of the sea.

The main attraction of the fort are the three water reservoirs. At the time, even if the water in the near buy villages dried up during summer, these reservoirs would still retain water.

Even today there are residents in and near the fort area that claim to be descendant of Shivaji’s Guerrilla war fighters. The number has since declined, the main reason being the lack of proper employment in the region.

This is the only Fort that has a temple of Shivaji. It is a symbol of love and devotion that people have for the legend even today.

How to get there:

The Sindhudurg district is about 500 kilometres from Mumbai and is situated in the North of Goa. You can reach the place by air or train. From Goa or Mumbai you can take a bus / train to reach Sindhudurg.  The Konkan railway service is an experience in itself. There are a few trains that stop at the station in Sindhudurg. The town of Sindhudurg is also accessible from Mangalore via rail or road.

The fort can be accessed by boats run by the locals through a nearby jetty. It is the cheapest way to reach the fort and an enjoyable experience.

Apart from its rich cultural heritage the town is known for its scuba diving industry thanks to the underwater escapades of Dr. Sarang Kulkarni, a well-known Researcher and Marine Biologist.

There are many reasonable accommodations available in the area, some near the coastal lines of the fort itself.

Images Credit :  ShevantiRaj

The Indian roots of Shaolin

The origin of the Shaolin arts is dedicated to the Indian Monk Bodhi dharma (known as Toma in Chinese) and also known as Tat Moh in some regions. Hailing from South India he was a devoted Buddhist. Buddhism was very common in Tamil Nadu during those days. He belonged to the Pallava dynasty and was well versed in the Indian fighting styles including- Kalari, Silambam and Varmam. He was multi linguistic and had immense in the field of medicine. In spite of his talents the Royal lifestyle never appealed to him. He even renounced his Royal lineage to take upon the simple lifestyle of a Buddhist Monk. Thereafter he journeyed to China. Indians especially Buddhists travelling to China in those days was common as Buddhism was well received in China.

Indian Monk Bodhi dharma

After reaching China he took sanctuary in a monastery called ‘Shao-lin’ which translates as little forest. There he came across many problems faced by the resident practitioners of Buddhism. The students were unable to endure the hard meditation and fasting routine the religion demanded. Determined to find a solution he retreated to a cave where he meditated in solace for 9 long years. Upon this long penance he came up with exercises for regulating the ‘chi’ (life force) in a person’s body to make him stronger. As he was not convinced with the strength of his Chinese disciples he developed exercises around the fighting style of animals. Individuals who practiced these exercises could engage in long duration of mediation without much food. They could focus their energies on receiving enlightenment without much need of material comforts.

Also Read: 5 of the most divine and rich Shrines of India

This period of China was that of great unrest. Crime was rampant. Bandits and anti-social elements would not spare even the holy and scared dwellings. Therefore, to combat these evils the monks, based on the teaching of Bodhi dharma, formulated martial art techniques. These techniques in addition, the chi control included self-defence mechanisms that helped the monks to ward of criminals and assailants and safeguard their region in the process.

Emperor Sung Tai Chor revolutionised the Shaolin technique further. Learning from different monks he developed the Tiger style or ‘Tai Chor’ the style of the emperor. As the name suggests it was a battle style used in warfare.

Many different styles were developed but there is no style powerful than the other. Every technique has a counter and all are meant for self-defence alone.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – The legend of Indian History

The one true legend of Indian History and founder of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Raje Bhosale was born in 1627 A.D. (there are many speculations about his date of birth) at Shivneri Fort, Pune. Shivaji was brought up under the guidance and nurture of his mother Jijabai and Guru Dadoji Kondadev. Their teachings and his father’s ambition to establish a separate Empire for the Maratha’s during the Mughal rule over India fuelled Shivaji’s own determination for his empire. Dadoji Kondadev trained Shivaji in the art of administration, warfare, strategy and justice. Shivaji was known for his just and fair rule towards both his subjects and his enemies.

Shivaji started his conquest along with his trusted Mavlas (a small batch of guerrilla warmongers) at the ripe age of 16. By the age of 19, he had conquered the Torna Fort which was about 30 kilometres away from Pune. Thereafter Shivaji continued capturing neighbouring territories which alarmed Adilshah the Sultan of Bijapur. Incidentally, Shivaji’s father had allied himself with Adilshah due to the predominance of Mughal rulers at that time and therefore was serving under Adilshah. The Sultan immediately saw Shivaji’s exploits as a threat to the Mughal rule and to pressurise Shivaji, imprisoned his father. Though Shivaji heeded at that time fearing for his father’s life, he defeated Adilshah in the Battle of Pratapgarh in 1659.

In 1665 it was Aurangzeb who thwarted Shivaji’s rise to power by subduing him into giving away 23 of his captured forts (the treaty of Purandar) and also held him and his son Sambhaji captive. But this would not stop the great Shivaji. He escaped along with his son and reclaimed his empire from Aurangzeb. In 1674 Shivaji declared himself the independent ruler of Maharashtra.

Some quick facts about Shivaji Maharaj:

  • Shivaji Maharaj also played an important role to built a Naval force to protect the Indian coast from pirates and foreign invaders. He is known as the Father of the Indian Navy.
  • Shivaji had to pick up weapons against his half-brother Venkoji in 1677. Maharaj defeated Venkoji.
  • Shivaji knew his land like his backyard. He was well-versed with Guerrilla tactics (Ganimi Kawa)  and always used it against enemies and rose victorious every time.
  • Shivaji Maharaj was not just a Hindu ruler, he was also known to have appointed a lot of Muslim men in his army. And the special quality of Maharaj is that he fought against ruler and not religions.

Today Shivaji is a symbol of determination, perseverance to the youths of Maharashtra. He is the Pride of the state.

Red Fort – A charming expanse of red

If we start to write a book on each and every fort of India, then we might need a book that is a few storeys tall. India has a rich heritage of forts with each architecture signifying the glories of the ruler of that particular region, the fort is situated in. These forts not only have a monumental value because of the ruler but are also marvels of intelligent engineering. Some are examples of glorious victory while so are left to ruin.

The Red fort has been of strategic importance since the Mughals ruled India and more so now as Delhi being the capital of India where this gigantic fortress is located.

History:

Emporer Shah Jahan moved the capital of his empire from Agra to the newly constructed city which he called Shahjahanabad, now known as old Delhi. When he constructed the city he also laid the foundation of what we now known as the Red Fort the Lal Qila.

This colossal stronghold is made out of red sandstone which nearly took a 100 year for completion. It is said that Shah Jahan had planned the construction of the Red Fort keeping in mind the mistakes he had made while structuring the Agra Fort. Moreover, learning from his mistakes while he lived there.

Until the British takeover, this fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for about 2 decades.

Interior:

The Lal Qila is the epitome of the Mughal culture in India. There are two main halls the Diwan-i-‘Am (Hall of public audience) and the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of private audience).

The hall for the public is a larger hall and at the entrance, there is a drum room called the Naubat-Khana where drums would be played during ceremonies. The throne for the emperor in this hall is placed in a decorated indentation.

The famous golden peacock throne is placed in the private hall which was later carried away by the Persian invader Nadir Shah.

Other chambers include the Tasbih-Khana (Room for counting beads for private prayers), Mumtaz Mahal (now converted into a museum), Khwabgah (chamber for sleeping) etc.

Mughals were also famous for their garden architecture which in the Red Fort’s case is the Hayat-Baksh-Bagh (life-giving garden) which has a pavilion constructed arguably for noontime visits.

Planning a visit to Delhi? Do visit the Fort. For Indian citizens, the entry fee is Rs. 30 per head and for children up to the age of 15, the entry is free.

Rich history of the Mughal era: A fortress of red sandstone

Though the most notable Mughal architecture in India is the Taj Mahal the Mughals have a long history of building strong fortresses of red sandstone that bore proof of their power and love for architecture.

Agra Fort:

Agra Fort

  • In the midst of invasion and fortification of the victor Mughals, the Agra fort was built. It is also known as the Agre ka Lal –Qila, ‘Fort Rouge’ or ‘Qila-i-Akbari’.
  • It was constructed as a show of the Mughal might and resilience. Today, it stands as the pride of the former Mughal Capital Agra.

Amber fort:

Amber fort:

  • Constructed by Raja Shri Maan Singh JI Saheb a trusted general of Emperor Akbar and one of the designated Navratnas (Nine gems) of Akbar’s royal court. Its construction began in the year 1592.
  • Like most Moghul forts this fort also has the public and private halls- the Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas respectively. The public hall was where Emperor Akbar listened to the grievances of his subjects. In the private hall, he held meetings with the ministers, special guests, and friends.
  • The most integral part of the Amber fort is the Mirror Palace better known as the Sheesh Mahal. The famous Bollywood song ‘Jab Pyaar Kiya to Darna kya’ from the film Mughal-e-Azam was shot in this very palace, of course with a lot of special permissions and time constraints.

Red Fort:

Red Fort - India

  • When the capital of the Mughal empire was shifted to Agra by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638 he laid the foundation of the Red Fort.
  • The Red fort was better in every way from the Agra fort as it’s plan was pre-conceived based on the mistakes and destitutions faced by Shah Jahan in the Agra fort.

The trip to north India warrants a visit to all three forts. They entry fee is reasonable for all and there are special discounts for students and children. India has a rich collection of Forts and monuments. Every single of the architecture represents a special part of history that and has been important for the country. Every wall, door, brick has its significance that one may understand only when he/she visits the place personally. This a rich and royal heritage collection of pride and honour has been something Indians boast about, but there is very little that is done by the Government of India and its citizens to preserve them. While there are a few organizations that have kick started drives to attack the issue but without proper promotion and backing even these fail to some extent.