Friday, June 13, 2008

SAGARGAD




“Alibag”… the name conjures images of sand and coconut trees… sea and beach games. So when someone says “Let’s go trekking near Alibag”, most people are astonished.

On a high forested mountain, just 9 Kms east of Alibag, lies a forgotten fort called Sagargad or the “Sea fort”. It has probably acquired the name due to the fabulous views one gets from its western cliff… From Chaul & Revdanda on the Southside to Akshi, Nagaon & Alibag on the Westside! On a clear day one can spot Karnala and Mira Dongar from the Eastern Cliff. Some people refer to it as Khed Durg or the “Village Fort”.

Historic Significance:
Hardly any historic events have occurred here to make the place famous. The fort must have come in existence during the Satvahan Dynasty. The fort was built to keep a watch on the Karli pass which linked the Chaul Port to the hinterlands. Later it changed hands from the Gujarat Sultans to the Bahamani kingdoms and from the Portuguese to the Siddis of Janjira. It finds a mention in the Treaty of Purandar (1655 AD) under which Shivaji handed over 33 forts to Moghuls. Later the Angre Dynasty of Alibag held sway till the British took over the control in the mid of 19th century.

Location:
Latitude: 18o 39’
Longitude: 72o 57’
Altitude: 410 Mts above MSL

What to See:
Vanartok: The piece de resistance of the forty is Vanartok or the Monkey Tip. Just off the southern cliff of the fort is a small independent pinnacle separated from the fort by a small chasm.


Gomukh: The only perennial source of water on the mountain top is a spring called Gomukh. The water sprouts out of a faucet that is shaped like a cow’s mouth into a cistern.
Pond: In the southern portion of the fort is and articfical pond that has water till early summer. Monsoon is an ideal time to do a skinny dip in the pond… but beware of the snakes.
Fortifications: Most of the fortifications have weathered away except the northern wall which has significant amount of overgrowth on it.
Ruins of a British House: At the centre of the fort is a plinth of a house built by British government official to escape the heat of the plains below during the summers.
Saticha Mal: To the east of the fort is a plateau call Saticha Mal or “Sati’s Plateau”. This signifies a location where a widow or widows would have been immolated on their husband’s funeral pyre. Also seen here are some Veergals or “Hero Stones”.

Reaching there:
Reaching the base village: Khandala (Not the hill station!) on the Alibag – Pen road is the ideal base village for this trek. You can reach here by Auto rickshaw from Alibag. In fact the auto rickshaws can be taken right up to the base of the Dhondana Waterfall.

Reaching the fort: Take the road towards Siddheshwar temple from Khandala. The temple can be seen on a cliff next to the Dhondana Waterfall. The trail goes up from the left side of the waterfall. Keep moving further along the dirt track till you reach a tribal hamlet. You can either take a guide from the village or walk along the dirt track till you come to a cliff. You will see the fort across the valley. Cross the col that connects the Siddheshwar hill to fort. Once you reach the fort wall take the path to the left till you reach the ruined entrance. It will take about an hour to reach the fort from the Dhondana Waterfall. There are trekking routes from Poynad and


View Larger Map

When to Visit:
Monsoons are a great time to visit this place as the forest becomes lush and small waterfalls spring to life. But if you want to see the nearby Dhondana Waterfall in its full glory, you will have to choose a day of heavy downpour. For those who do not like squishy squashy treks, October to February is a good time. Summers are advised only for die hard trekkers!

Similar Places:
Hill forts with seaview: Kaldurg, Asawa & Tandulwadi forts near Palghar, Dronagiri near Uran and Madgad near Srivardhan.

Nearby Place:
Siddheshwar Temple: A Shiva Temple enroute to Sagargad
Dhondana Waterfall: A massive waterfall next to Siddheshwar Temple.
Khandala: A small stone inscription with Sun and Moon carvings.
Ghod Katal: A small lake considered holy by the Bene Israeli Jews
Karli Pass: A small mountain pass with forested slope. Also a small shrine dedicated to Goddess Patrubai.
Ramdarna Caves: Right above the Karli Pass are the ancient caves temples of Ramdarna.

Further Reading:
Gazetteer of Kolaba
“Saad Sahyadrichi. Bhatkanti Killyanchi.” by P K Ghanekar
The Sahyadri Companion by Hrishikesh Yadav

1 comment:

Mumbai Hiker said...

Nice trek report ,maps and photos !! keep it up .