Indian culture and wealth attracted many European empires to have their colonies on its shores. Portugese, French and British ruled different pockets of India over last 500-600 years. We all know the stories of British Empire because most of our history books are filled with all sort of information on their colonies in India. However the Portuguese empire goes quiet unnoticed as they ruled only small isolated pockets. The first Portuguese encounter with India was on 20 May 1498 when Vasco da Gama reached India. Shortly after discovering the route they formed a Colonial state in India which included cochin, goa, daman and diu and small pockets in Maharashta namely Vasai (erstwhile bassein) and chaul (near alibaug).
One fortification built by Portuguese empire still stands near alibaug, Maharashtra. The ‘not so famous’ sea-side fort is situated on a hillock near the KorlaiVillage and hence named as Korlai fort. The fort occupying whole hillock can be seen on left hand side when you cross the Revdanda bridge around 25 km from Alibaug.
While navigating through the sleepy fishing village on the base of hillock, local fishermen told us that there is nothing much to see up there, but the rugged fort proved them wrong. During our visit we found out some of the activities which can be enjoyed on the fort.
Explore a Lighthouse.
The fort of Korlai has a lighthouse which guides the modern day sailors and fishermen as they take to waters. The government has opened the lighthouse to tourists and it can be seen from inside with a nominal fees. The guide provides interesting facts about how the lighthouses are used by the sailors and local fishermen. The lighthouse tour was thoroughly knowledgeable experience.
Camping and angling
Waking up in a tent to the sound of waves is an experience to die for. While roaming on the fort we saw anglers fishing in the sea, they had set up a tent on a platform which was covered by water from 3 sides. The scene took me back by few years when me and my friends camped on Korlai beach and spent a night there. Sky studded with millions of stars, sand touching your feet as you sleep, the music of waves playing all night; all of this without having to pay a single rupee out of your pocket.
An excursion on foot
Lighthouse and a church are two prominent structures on the fort. The fort offers splendid views of vast sea and korlai beach and that makes it an ideal place for landscape photography. You can easily spend 2-3 hours roaming around the fort and exploring small private beaches and every other nook and corner of the fort.