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Konkan Diaries 3- Majestic Vijayadurga

This is the third one in the series – friends.

On the third day of my stay at Tarkarli, I decided to hire an Auto and explore the neighbouring areas from Tarkarli. I, myself and the Autowallah decided to first go to Vijayadurg, the Victory Fort.

This is yet another coastal Maharashtra fort further up the coast from Sindhudurgh, which was once the main naval base for the Maratha navy. This navy was founded in 1659 with a strength of 50 ships that later grew to 400 ships in the small span of 20 years.

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The drive to Vijaydurg was extremely beautiful and the bucolic countryside and well-surfaced roads made it a lovely journey. Sindhudurg however was a contrast in feelings. The chief attraction of this sleepy village is a seemingly impregnable post-Shivaji period fort. A dilapidated board at the entrance of the fort tells you its history. Some of the board is readable, whilst the rest needs guesswork since the paint has peeled off.

Incidentally, one of the best views of the fort is from this jetty. The fort stretches out into the sea and a walk inside its precincts is worthwhile. Generally, no one bothers to come here. The locals inform me that Vijay Mallya, once a booze baron and United Breweries boss – now a run-away defaulter, has bought over a hundred acres of land just north of here to build a resort in the future.

Vijaydurg”s beach is hidden from view and not obvious to the casual visitor. So we had to head towards the small bus stop that the place had, just before the fort and where the road ends. It was tucked away in a corner. After spending two hours at the fort and the surrounding beaches, we now headed back for Tarkarli and decided to go through the Devgarh, another beach town in the Konkan region, which also has one more of its many coastal forts.

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Devgarh lies about 25 km. South of Vijaydurg, this fortress was built after the reign of the great Maratha warrior-king Shivaji and today houses a lighthouse amidst its ramparts. The town of Devgarh, though famous for its Alphonso mangoes, subsists mainly on fishing and has a wonderful natural harbour, formed by a sliver of land that juts out into the sea and then suddenly turns north, acting as a protective barrier. The beach is set in a gentle curve and on our first visit, we missed it completely. The approach is not quite apparent. We went through the town again and negotiated the bazaar that is located on a steep slope. A little after the slope the road peters out and progresses, hugging the parked fishing trawlers, in various stages of repair and disrepair. Turning left and a short drive brought us to the beach. There was a brightly coloured temple located to the left. The road continued up a hill and ended at the southern entrance to the fort.

The view from here in the evenings is magnificent, especially on cloudy days when the sky rapidly changes hue just before sunset. The waves crashing on the rocks below provide a fitting serenade to this spectacle.

Just like the Taj Mahal, Ganu, the Auto driver, told me that Devgarh beach must be visited on a full moon night. A peculiar phenomenon of phosphorescence in the water makes the surf on the waves glow in the dark. When you kick the sand as the wave recedes, sparklers seem to emanate from the sand and water, like stardust on the beach. But, I was short of time and had to miss out.

Devgarh is also the land of the King of fruits, the Alphonso mango. The world’s best mangoes are grown here. You are welcome to buy all you can in the season, but, do not pluck mangoes from any tree. This is an offence and fines ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 500 can be levied. The locals enforce this rule vigilantly.

But I still managed to pluck on Raw mango with help of the Autowallah, after paying 50 bucks to a tree owner.  Please see the pic of the single mango.

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We further went ahead to visit other areas like the Kunkeshwar temple and more villages – the details in next post…..Till then enjoy reading this piece.


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