Vijaydurg

Vijaydurg (Fort Victory) of Gheria (the enclosure), (Devgad T.; 16° 32′ N, 73° 22′ E; p. 2506), is a minor port on the south snore of the entrance to the Vaghotan river, 170 miles south of Bombay. The nearest Railway Station is Kolhapur,
108 miles to the south-east.
One of the best harbours on the western coast, and without any bar, it- may be entered in all weathers, and even for large ships is a safe south-west monsoon shelter. In the fine season, vessels may anchor anywhere in the harbour, the best
position being a mud and clay bottom with three and a half fathoms at low water. Between. Vijaydurg fort and the fortified cliffs to the north-east, the channel is six cables wide, with, at low water, -depths of from twenty to twenty-four
feet. Inside, it rapidly shoals, and two and a half cables further the low water depth is not more than twelve or thirteen feet. The deep channel, only one and a half cables broad, lies close to the left bank of the western shore, and
except at high water spring tides, there is no room for large vessels to swing2. There is a light-house near the port.
The village, small and poorly built, with little tillage and no industry but fishing, is connected with Vaghotan fifteen miles distant, and through the Phonda pass with the Deccan by a good but little used road.3 Fort
Never a place of much trade or wealth, the whole interest of the village centres in its fort On the neck of rocky land that forms the south side of the bay, Vijaydurg, one of the best of Konkan fortresses, though not very striking from the
sea side, rises grandly about 100 feet above the river. The walls, of very great strength and protected by twenty-seven bastions, rise, at their highest point, into a great round tower. On the west breached in several places by the sea. they are
over their whole length loosened and ruined by trees and creepers. Their triple line of fortifications encloses about twenty acres,2 overrun with bushes, but with some good wells and several large habitable buildings.3 The fort is
probably old, enlarged under the Bijapur kings, and about the middle of the seventeenth century, much strengthened by Shivaji4 to whom it owns its finest features, the triple line of walls, the numerous towers, and the massive interior
buildings.5 About forty years later (1698), Angre made it the capital of a territory stretching for about 150 miles along the coast and from thirty to sixty miles inland. For more than fifty years, Angres were a terror to all traders, and the
English were forced to keep a special fleet to act against them. 111 April 1717, their ships of war, carrying a considerable body of troops, sailed against Gheria. An attempt to breach the wall failed, the storming party was driven back with great loss, and the fleet forced to withchaw. Three years later a joint Portuguese and English fleet under Mr. Walter Brown destroyed sixteen Angre’s vessels, but made no impression on the fort.1 In the same year (April 1720), the English ship, Charlette, was attacked, and after a gallant defence, her power having run down, she was
caught and taken into Gheria.2 In 1724, a Dutch fleet from Batavia attacked the place, but with no better success.3 In 1736, Angre’s vessels took the richly laden English East Indiaman Derby, the armed ship Restoration of twenty guns,
and several other vessels of less note. In 1738, in an action between Angre’s fleet and Commodore Bagwell, Angre’s fleet fled up the Rajapur creek and escaped with little loss.4 Besides several captures from Dutch, Angre about this time took
the French forty gun ship Jupiter, with 400 slaves. In 1749, Mr., afterwards Sir William James was attacked by Angre’s fleet, and after a hard fight, drove them to Gheria, pursuing them and causing great loss.5 Next year, in spite of their
defeat, they were bold enough to attack Commodore Lisle in command of a fleet of several vessels, among them the Vigilant of sixty-four and the Ruby of fifty guns.6 Again in February 1754, attacking three Dutch ships of fifty, thirty-six
and eighteen-guns, they burnt the two large ones and took the third. Elated with this success, Angre built several vessels, set two large ships on the stocks, and boasted he should soon be master of the Indian seas. For long the Peshva and the
Bombay Government planned Angre’s ruin. At last, in 1755, it was settled that in the next fair season the Peshva’s troops should attack him from land and the British by sea. At the close of the year (1755, Dec. 22), Commodore James was sent
to survey Gheria fort then thought as strong as Gibraltar. He found that ships could’ get within pointblank shot; that on shore guns could be carried, and a diversion made from the tops of two hills; and that the fort was crowded with
unprotected buildings. The place was surprisingly unlike what he had heard.7 The Bombay Government were fortunate in having their harbour, a Royal squadron under Admiral Watson and a strong detachment of troops under Lieutenant-
Colonel, afterwards Lord Clive. On the 7th April 1756, the fleet of twelve men-of-war, six of the Royal and six of the Company’s navy, with 800 European and 600 native troops, and five bomb vessels with a company of artillery, and four
Maratha grabs and forty gallivats sailed from bombay.l Sending a few vessels ahead to block the harbour, the fleet arrived off Gheria on the eleventh. The Maratha
land force, or some time afield, was camped against Gheria. Tenified by the strength of the British fleet, Tulaji Angre leaving the fort in his brother’s charge, surrendered to the Maratha general. Hearing that the Maratha general had
extorted from Tulaji, an order for the delivery of the fortress, Admiral Watson on the next morning (12th) summoned the fort to surrender. Getting no answer, the fleet with the afternoon sea breeze, forming two divisions, sailed each in line of
battle ship covering a bomb ketch, and protecting the column of smaller vessels from the enemy’s fire. They passed the point into the river, and under a heavy fire, anchoring fifty yards off the north fortifications, battered them from 150
pieces of cannon. Angre’s ships were drawn up under the fort, all fastened together, and a shell setting one on fire, the whole were burnt.2 Another shell set fire to the buildings in the fort, and the tremendous cannonade silenced the fort
guns.3 Still the commander held out. Learning that the fort was to be handed over to the Marathas, Colonel Clive 1anded and held the ground between the Peshvas army and the fort. Next morning the admiral again summoned the fort to surrender. The commandant asked for time to consult brother. A respite was granted, till, in the afternoon, as no answer came, the bombardment was re-opened. By five O’clock the garrison surrendered, and Colonel Clive, marching in, took possession.4 Though the masonry was destroyed, the rock defences were so perfect, that a determined garrison need not have yielded to any sea attack.

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