A lone fort stands over a hill just off a creek on an island. It’s a small island with a fishing village at the base of a hill. As we approached the island, we couldn’t really see too much. It seemed that the fort was in ruins. But a friend had told me that Korlai Fort would be a good place to visit. And that’s why we went there from Alibag. Yes, the Korlai fort is at a short distance from Alibag.
Frankly, we were happy to leave Alibag as there were simply too many people in this beachside. It was the long weekend and everybody wanted to take a break.
Even the name Korlai is very interesting. This small island went by the name of “Morro de Chaul” before, during the days of the Portuguese. It means a small and rounded hill. The Portuguese were right – it would be a good way of describing the hill top where the fort stands. The name used at this time, “Korlai”, is actually the name of the village that stands at the foothills.
It was the Portuguese who constructed the Korlai fort in 1521. Historians believe that it was constructed to protect the Revdanda Creek. It does stand beside the creek and offers wonderful view of it. We agreed that it would be a great place for monitoring the movement of ships. The Marathas took the fort over, and finally in the 18th century, it went into the hands of the British. However the Brits found no use for it, and thus Korlai was subjected to a lot of neglect. That’s precisely why it stands in its present state – ruins.
The Indian government commissioned a lighthouse after independence. It started operating in 1955. The marine and port authorities started monitoring ship movements, of course for peaceful purposes. The lighthouse with its beacon stands to this day. You can climb up to get a panoramic view of the island, fort and the sea all around. The lighthouse is open between 4 in the afternoon and 6 in the evening. Watching the sunset from here should be a memorable experience. We were not that lucky though.
What remain of the fort now are the ruins of what was a church once. The wall is not in great shape – some portions of it have come down. You can also see the remains of a rain-water harvesting system. You will also find some cannons within the complex. Climbing up to the fort will take some effort. But it’s worth it because of the views.