The oldest fort on Sindhudurg coast constructed in the regime of Raja Bhoj of shilahar dynasty in 1205 (construction period 1193-1205). The fort was earlier known as "Gheria" as it is situated in the village "Girye". Shivaji Maharaj won this fort from Adilshaha of Bijapur in 1653 and renamed it as “Vijay Durg” as the then Hindu solar year’s name was “Vijay”. Vijay means Victory.
This is only one of the two forts of the Maratha kingdom, where King Shivaji personally hoisted the saffron flag. The other fort is "Torana". This fort was also known as "Eastern Gibraltar" as this fort was impregnable for a long time like the fort “Gibraltar” in Europe. This impregnable fort has some locational advantages. One such advantage is 40 km long waghotan/kharepatan Creek. The big ships can’t enter the shallow water of this creek and hence Maratha warships were anchored in this creek. These ships were invisible from deep sea.
The Architectural marvel
1) The 200m long, undersea/underland tunnel from the fort to the Dhulap’s palatial house in the village is man-made. The roof of the tunnel has been pinched to protect it from land-slides and it is also well ventilated. Now the tunnel is partially blocked. Using latest technology if this tunnel is cleared it will be a major tourist attraction and will be of great help for architectural students/history lovers.
2) The fencing compound wall constructed at 8-10 m depth undersea, 300ft from the fort is another architectural wonder. The wall constructed with laterite stones is 122 mtr long, 3 mtr high & 7 mtr in breadth. Majority of attacking ships met their watery grave after colliding on this wall as this wall is not visible above the sea level.
Discovery of helium::
On 18-08-1868, a solar eclipse day a French scientist Johnson took the spectrometer readings from this fort. The stone benches he used for taking the readings are known as “saheb’s kattas” in local language. These spectrometer readings helped in detecting the presence of “Helium”, one of the basic elements on Sun.
The naval dock:
1.5 km from the fort in the Wagjotan Creek, a naval dock was constructed by carving the rocks. This is where the maratha warships were built and repaired. The ships built here were of the 400-500 tonnage capacity. This 109*70 mt dock faces the north side and is one of the major landmarks of maratha naval artchitecture.
As of now, Vijaydurg does not haveany budget/top end hotel. Dormitory accommodation with basic amenitiesis available. There are private home owners who offer there home asguest house for tourists.
Vijaydurg is 52 kms from Kasarde off Mumbai –Goa NH 17.
It is 180 km from Panaji and 525 kms from Mumbai.
The nearest rail-herd is Kankavli on Konakan Rly Route (80 kms.)
Places to see nearby:
The palatial house of Dhulap in ‘Vijaydurg’ village has some beautifulwall paintings of natural colours. These paintings are of Maratha style.TheRameshwar Temple at Girye is 3 Km from the fort. This stone archway andpathway leading to the temple is a sight and behold. This temple alsohas beautiful wall paintings and wooden engravings on the columns.
(Contributed by Prasad Ghanekar)