Vijaydurg Fort (sometimes written as Viziadrug), the oldest fort on the Sindhudurg coast, was constructed during the regime of Raja Bhoja II of the Shilahar dynasty (construction period 1193-1205). The fort was earlier known as "Gheria", as it is situated close to the village of "Girye". Shivaji captured this fort from Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1653 and renamed it as "Vijay Durg" as the then Hindu solar year's name was "Vijay" (Victory).
Earlier, the fort encompassed an area of 5 acres (1 acre = 4840 square yards or 4047 square metres) and was surrounded by sea on all four sides. Over the years the eastern trench was reclaimed and a road constructed thereon. Presently the area of fort is about 17 acres and is surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides. Shivaji extended the area of the fort by constructing three walls on the eastern side, each 36 metres high. He also constructed 20 bastions.
According to legend, this is one of only two Maratha forts where Shivaji personally hoisted the saffron flag. The other fort is "Torana".
Vijaydurg Fort was called the "Eastern Gibraltar", as it was virtually impregnable. Its locational advantages include the 40 km long Waghotan/Kharepatan creek. Large vessels cannot enter the shallow water of this creek. Also, Maratha warships could be anchored in this creek and yet remain invisible from the sea. It is a protected monument.Location:
Fort Vijaydurg is located at the tip of the peninsular region of Vijaydurg in Devgad Taluka, of district Sindhudurg. It is one of the several coastal forts on the western coast ofMaharashtra, India. It is surrounded by water on three sides and connected to land through a narrow road. The port adjacent to the fort is a natural port and is still used by local fishermen.Battle of Vijaydurg:
After the death of Kanhoji Angre, there were two short reigns by Sarfoji and Sambhaji. The two brothers Manaji and Tulaji started fighting for the Angre throne. Nanasaheb Peshwe had intervened in the disputes between Manaji and Tulaji. This created two spheres of influence, Manaji in the north at Kulaba and Tulaji in the south at Vijaydurg. Tulaji Angre was favored by Chhatrapati Shahu and was appointed as Sarkhel (Admiral) of the Maratha Navy. This was against the will of Nanasaheb Peshwa.Sarkhel Tulaji:
Tulaji was brave and a much more skillful seaman than Manaji. This had gained hus the favor of Chhatrapati Shahu. In a brief span, he had surpassed the record of his predecessors in the number of English ships captured: Charlotte of Madras, William of Bombay, Svern of Bengal and, Darby, Restoration, Pilot, Augusta and Dadabhoi of Surat. He had also captured Anjanvel form the Siddis of Janjira. Another reason for the Peshwa to go against Tulaji was that, Tulaji refused to admit the Peshwa as his superior, maintaining that both were equal servants of the Chhatrapati. He refused to pay revenue contribution and even annoyed the Peshwa by raiding his territory. Nanasaheb could do nothing as long as Shahu was alive, but after his death in 1749, Peshwa was free to wreck his vengeance on Tulaji.Death of Chhatrapati and Rise of Peshwa:
After the death of Chhatrapati Shahu, Peshwa was the next most influential ruler among the ones with huge armies and numerous land forts under his command or at his disposal under ownership of his vassals. Against all advice, forgetting the interests of the Maratha nation, showing little political foresight or wisdom, Nanasaheb sought assistance of the English at Bombay to put down an end to Tulaji's reign. A treaty was signed according to which a ground force under command of the Peshwa and a naval force under command of the Company would attack and destroy Tulaji. Among other articles, the treaty provided that Fort Vijaydurg, when captured, would be given to the Peshwa.Fall of Suvarnadurg:
In 1755, Commodore James of Bombay attacked the fort Suvarnadurg while the Peshwa's army started capturing land and other coastal forts of Angre. This isolated Suvarnadurg from landward. Commodore James first bombarded the fort from the west. 800 shots and shells were expended at a range of 100 yards, but the walls did not collapse. He then entered the channel between the fort and the coast and fired on the eastern face as well as the main gate. Both gave way. Some of the garrison tried to escape from the fort by a tunnel running into the sea, but were discovered and killed. Considerable damage had been caused inside the fort by the bombardment and the garrison, finding no hope of relief or reinforcements, surrendered. Commodore James returned to Bombay for the monsoons.Attack on Vijaydurg:
After the fall of Suvarnadurg and all other forts of the Angre, Vijaydurg was the only fort left under the command of Tulaji. In 1756, a large force under Admiral Watson converged on Vijaydurg. Watson had arrived at Bombay from eastern waters and had with him Colonel Clive with 500 marines. The English ships took station with Watson flying his flag on the Protector. Two bomb vessels were in the extreme east. The Maratha ships were anchored at the mouth of the creek, close to the fort. They all were bunched up, almost hull to hull. Amongst these was the Company's ship Restoration, which caught fire. The fire spread rapidly till the entire Angre fleet was destroyed, The bombardment of the fort had caused considerable damage inside the fort and magazine had been blown up.Fall of Vijaydurg:
Tulaji, meanwhile had left the fort and gone to the Peshwa's camp seeking a negotiation but was promptly arrested and sent to one of the inland forts as a prisoner. The garrison was asked to surrender and in the absence of any response Clive landed his marines on 11 February 1756, entered and captured the fort. A huge amount of booty was captured. 250 pieces of cannons, stores and ammunition, 100,000 Rupees and 30,000 in valuable items fell into English hands. Vijaydurg was not handed over immediately to the Peshwa as per the terms of the treaty. It was eventually given up but only after the Company obtained Bankot in exchange.End of Maratha Naval Supremacy:
The battle of Vijaydurg marks the end of the Maratha Navy as a potent force. The Maratha Admiral Dhulap captured some ships later. The Sawants of Wadi, the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur and the Gaikwads of Baroda, all had a few ships. But the command of the seas, for all practical purposes had passed to teh Company permanently. they achieved this in 1756 only because of the alliance with the PeshwaFeatures of Architectural Interest:
• According to unconfirmed reports, there is a 200m long, undersea/underland tunnel from the fort to the palatial Dhulap house in the village. Supposedly, the roof of the tunnel has been pinched to protect it from landslides and it is also well ventilated. Now the tunnel is partially blocked. If the presence of the tunnel can be confirmed, and the tunnel cleared, it could serve as a tourist attraction of historical and architectural interest.
• Recent oceanographic evidence supports the existence of an undersea wall, constructed out at sea at a depth of 8–10 m depth undersea. Made of laterite, the wall is estimated to be 122 mtrs long, 3 mtrs high & 7 mtrs broad. Attacking ships often met a watery grave after colliding against this wall.When the Siddi of Janjira was going to attack Vijaydurg, he got a message from Portuguese telling him that They had lost 2 of their ships while they were nearing the fort.
• 1.5 km from the fort up the Waghotan Creek, exist the remains of a naval dock carved from rock. This is where Maratha warships were built and repaired. The ships built here were of the 400-500 tonnage capacity. This 109*70 mt dock faces the north side and is an achievement of Maratha naval architecture. Most of the smaller ships were docked near this small inner port.
• On the other hill in front of fort a wall was built to deceive the enemy. When the enemy attacked the wall, he had already wasted his ammunition and before he could understand, he would be attacked by Marathas from the rear side.Other facts:
• Sir J Norman Lankier, a British scientist was observing a solar eclipse from this fort on 18 August 1868. It was during his observation that the Helium Gas was discovered on Sun in the form of a yellow flame! He named this as Helios which was later named as Helium. Vijaydurg can be credited as the place from where, Helium was discovered and observed on sun.
• The fort has many monuments, now in ruins which show the characteristics of Maratha architecture. The food storage and court are such classic examples.
• This fort also has a Khalbatkhana, where important meetings were held. There are only 3 forts that had a Khalbatkhana. They are Rajgad, Raigad andVijaydurg.