A fort built on an island – this is something that immediately conjures in the mind scenic images of the ocean waters lapping against the fortification in stone and providing a 360-degree view of an enchanting landscape. This comes true at Korlai Fort, a Portuguese fortification in the town of Korlai, which guards the way to the Revdanda Creek. Its imposing presence fires the imagination of those days when guarding a particular territory was a prime occupation of the rulers.
Korlai Fort is a Nizamshahi-Portuguese fortification and was built on a rocky ridge, ‘O Morro de Chaul’. In its heyday, the fort protected the Revdanda Creek while also guarding its age-old companion Revdanda Fort on the opposite side of the Kundalika River. Though the fort owes its origin primarily to the Ahmednagar Sultanate, vestiges of the Portuguese occupation are manifested in the distinct dialect of the Korlai villages’ inhabitants which is Portuguese Creole. The fort had eight bastions and four entrances. Inside, the architectural arrangement was unique with the fortification being compartmentalized into eight quarters of irregular size, each with its own arched entrance built in European style with steps and equipped with guns.
The highest portion of the fort had the residence of the captain, ammunition stores, storages, and a chapel. This chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Voyages, administered by Franciscans in 1636, consisted of an altar made of stone and mortar with the nave being covered by a straw-thatched roof and walls made of bamboo mats and palm leaves. In a later period, the whole chapel was turned into a magnificent stone-arched building showing typical characteristics of Province of the North religious structures. Mass was performed in the chapel on every Sunday and holiday. The chapel became the major landmark of Morro.
Korlai village is at a distance of 25 kms from Alibag. State transport buses and private six-seater rickshaws regularly run from Alibag to Korlai. A good motorable road from Alibag en route to Murud takes a visitor to Korlai, where the fort still stands in its full majesty because the remains have been well preserved. Visitors can climb up to the fort in about 20 minutes via steps from two sides - the east and the west. The western approach starts from a modern lighthouse. The eastern approach has a good view of the river Kundalika and the Revdanda Fort.
Distance from Mumbai: 112 kms