BIRVADI FORT

Birvadi Fort [Mr. E. H. Moscardi, C. S.] (Roha taluka, 18° 05′ N, 73° 25′ E; p. 355; RS. Karjat, 65 m.) six miles west of Roha, crowns the last of a broken range of hills varying in height from 1,200 to 1,800 feet which runs south-west from the central hills or backbone of the Roha taluka. The link between the Birvadi hill and the rest of the range, is a neck of land so low that, from a distance, its two conical peaks seem to stand by themselves. Of the two peaks, the eastern, which alone is fortified, is considerably lower than the western. On all sides but the north-east the hill is surrounded by low rice fields, which are almost enclosed by other hills most of them higher than Birvadi, so that except from near the mouth of the Revdanda creek, Birvadi is not visible from any considerable distance. There is only one regular path up the hill. This leads from the northern side, starting from a point on the footpath from Roha to Birvadi village about a mile from Birvadi. It is also possible to reach the fort by very steep tracts which climb straight from the villages of Khera and Canera. The path from Khera leaves Birvadi village in the west or right hand and, after passing a small brushwood-covered hill, enters a somewhat less wooded region strewn with the ruins of houses, apparently remains of a consider-able village or small town. Beyond this the path becomes steep and narrow, winding among boulders and clumps of karinda and other houses. The line of fortifications is about 300 feet above the village. It consists of a triangular escarpment, whose top seems to have been protected by masonry. Traces of this masonry remain in places, but the large number of blocks of dressed stones, that lie scattered on every side below the fort, seem to show that the wall stretched round the whole or nearly the whole of the lines of defence. The sides of the fort face the south, the north-east, and the north-west. The gate of the fort, still in good repair, is at the northern angle. There were four round bastions about twenty or thirty feet across and close together, of which only one stands to-day, the gate lying between the two bastions to the east. It is approached by a flight of stone steps, and is a nearly circular archway with a small cusp or indentation in the keystone. These and the other bastions in the fort were well and solidly built of dressed stone, and had the appearance of being almost entire. They were pierced with loopholes for musketry, but no cannon or embrasures for cannon are visible in them or else-where in the fort. Besides this, there were four other bastions along the escarpment, one on each of the eastern and western angles in the south and north-west sides. Just within the outer escarpment were four rock-cut water cisterns, two on the north-east side, one on the south, and one on north-west side. One cistern has been built in concrete. Rest are shallow and nearly filled with rubbish. A masonry dam runs outside of these cis-terns along the edge of the escarpment. Immediately within this escarpment, which with its bastions forms the only defence of the fort, the central peak of the hill rises about 200 feet above the fort and about 800 feet above the plain. On the point of the peak is the plinth of a house about forty feet long by thirty broad, which was either the Governor’s residence or a store-house for pro-visions and ammunition. There is nothing in its shape or construction to suggest that it was intended for any special use. The view from the summit is pleasing but not extensive, and is singularly devoid of objects of interest. Richly wooded hills shut in the view on the north, east and south. Only towards the north-east, where the summits of the Sahyadris are just visible, is anything to be seen behind the surrounding hills. On the eastern side the view is a little more extensive. A broad plain, broken by slight inequalities, stretches as far as the Revdanda creek, whose winding course can be followed nearly to the sea. Of the fort of Korlai only the top is visible, the rest being hidden by another nearer hill. Immediately below and on the rear side of the creek are the villages of Birvadi, Canera, Khera, Candganv, and Talavade. These, with Kamble and Yunghar in the valley to the south-east, on the nearer side of the hills, are the only conspicuous objects in the immediate foreground.

At the foot of the hill was a small ruined Musalman tomb of which no traces now remain. The name of the saint is not known but, after the tomb, the village is called Shaikh-ki-Birvadi in contradiction to the other Birvadi in Mahad. This is one of the two Kolaba forts, which, after taking Kalyan in 1648, Sivaji ordered to be built to secure his share of Kolaba against his formidable neighbour the Sidi. The other fort was Lingana [Grant Duff’s Marathas, Vol. I, 112.].

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