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Ratnagiri fort

Saturday, August 29th, 2009 | mumbaihikers | Uncategorized

The Ratnagiri fort is a series of fortmcations on the high headland which forms the west end of the north arm of the Ratnagiri harbour. This headland has a shape similar to a horse’s foot with the toe pointing south, the sides each about
1,320 yards long and the heel or broad north end about 1,000 yards across and has a total area of about 120 acres. From its north-east end, where it is joined to the mainland by a low isthmus about 440 yards broad, the headland rises from
about 200 ft. in the north to 300 in the south. From the extreme south point where there is a light house passing north along what may he called the west half of the foot, the heel, with very steep western cliffs, quickly falls to about .100
feet above sea level and then at north-west end of the heel, rises again as suddenly into an isolated. fortified hill, 200 feet.
high, known as Bale Killa; The broad north face of the headland, concave in, shape, forms a bay with the citadel as its western, and the north end of the eastern face of the headland as its eastern arms.
The defences of the headland form an outer and inner fort. Starting from the isthmus in the north-east, about the middle of the south-eastern side, facing Ratnagiri town, stood the’ main gateway of the outer fort, with the usual massive
iron boxes and spikes to ward off elephants. South of tills gateway to the light-house point, the eastern ridge is crested by a very high and massive wall. Between the light-house point, and the citadel previously referred to’ as Bale Killa the west side, falling in sheer, some time overhanging cliffs, is fortified only at the extreme south and north’ ends. Passing north from the south or light-house end is a long stretch of cliff said to have been once topped bya wall, but of this no trace remains. At the extreme north-west are the isolated and very strong fortifications of the inner fort or citadel, Bale Killa Along the bay of the north of the headland from the citadel fortifications, a very strong, wide and high wall runs along the shore with bastions at close intervals. Near the village at
the head of the bay a massive, gate-way shelters the landing place or bunder. These low north shore defences are,according to local story, the work of the Pratinidhi, Dhondu Bhaskar (1790). From the gateway along the tastern arm of the bay a wall runs up to the north end of the eastern or isthmus face, and there, strengthened by a specially large bastion,turns at right angles to the south along the crest of the eastern ridge.
The citadel, Bale Killa, with an area of six and a half acres standing on the flat isolated north-west point, forms a separate fortification, tenable against an enemy holding the outer fort without artillery. At the north-east and south-west
corners of the foot of the citadel rock, cave-like openings, stretching for some distance inwards, are believed to be in communication with the citadel. They are supposed to have been sallyports prepared for secret flight in case of the
capture of the fort from the land side. The fortifications are said to be partly Musalman, partly Maratha. According to local acco_ts the oldest are the shore works in the north face of the headland, where, between the foot of the citadel,
Bale Killa, and the north landing place, killa bunder a tower was built and the citadel hill slightly fortified. According to local story, these defences were began under the Bahamani kings (1343-1500). But the evidence of the Bahamani’s hold
of Ratnagiri is so slight that it seems more likely to have been the work of a Bijapur Officer (1500-1660). Shivaji, who is said to have gained possession of the fort about 1670, added or renewed the strong wall that crests the eastern ridge south
to the light-house point, and built protecting towers on two commanding points; one to the south on the site of the old court house, Adalat and the other to the north on Mirya hill. The tower on the lighthouse point, known as the Sidda butuj,
is said to take its name from a captain of the guard who was killed in a battle with Dhulap, the famous pirate chief of Vijaydurg. In the eighteenth century the citadel defences are said to have been improved by the Angre (1710-1755), and completed by the Peshvas (1755-1818).
The temple of Bhagvati was renovated about 1950. A new temple .of Shiva named Bhageshvar was also constructed on the other side, inside the light-house hill. The road has also, been constructed through the main gate-which was in a
dilapidated condition and hence removed-to go to the fort. The imposter of Sadashivrao Bhau, the Peshva’s general, who died on the battlefield of Panipat, was imprisoned in Ratnagiri fort from where he fled at the connivance of the Killedar, Ramchandra, Naik, to Poona and for a time created a good deal of trouble for the Barbhai administration.
On the south bastion of the outer fort, 300 feet above the sea, a small white masonry tower, 22 feet high, has a fixed red light of the sixth order, shining in clear weather from 8 to 10 miles.

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