My niece had come from Delhi to visit me and she wanted me to take her for a trek.Knowing that she had never trekked before and with mercury hitting at 40 C plus I was wary of going to trek with her, So I suggested the middle path and decided to visit Arnala Fort.
There are very few places which are near Mumbai and yet offer you the peaceful bliss of country side's natural delight and Arnala Fort is one of them. Arnala Village is hardly 10kms away from Virar station and the best part is, as it is a sea fort, so one need not worry about the trekking hardship. In my opinion any new comer who wants to get acquainted with the History, Forts and trek and in this particular order should start from here.
|picture taken from internet|
Once it was decided that it's Arnala Fort this Sunday, I called up few others also in case if they want to join me, However in the end it was me,my niece Sunisha and my friend Pooja who ended up for this trek.We took an early train to Virar Station and on reaching Virar station we got out of the station from the west side and walking for hardly 2-3 minutes we arrived at the Virar ST stand. We were given to understand that the frequency of the buses going to Arnala Village are good (Almost every 15 mins) and luckily for us the Local green coloured bus going to Arnala was waiting. we quickly got hold of the window seat, the bus journey lasted around 30 minutes and we reached the Arnala Market stop.
|Crowded Arnala Market|
|Fisher-women selling fishes at the fish market|
The Arnala Market or Naka has this big fish market and just opposite to that moving slightly toward the right side is a narrow road , a simple walk of 5 minutes from here will take us to Ferry wharf or jetty. Yes friends one has to take a boat to reach this fort because this fort is located on an island !
|A little walk through these narrow lanes and you reach Ferry Wharf|
Arnala fort is also called Jaldurg (Seafort) or Jangire Arnala , at one time the Portuguese who owned this fort had it rebuilt and named it ilha das vacas. In the year 1516 a local chieftain from Gujarat Sultan Mahmud Begde constructed this fort on the Arnala island ,but in 1530 Portuguese gained the control of this island consequent to that the Portuguese nobleman tore down the old fort and did a new construction of 700 by 700 feet (210m x 210m) fort, since then for 2 centuries the control of the fort remained with the Portuguese who used it to control shipping and navigation along the northern Konkan coast.
During the late 17th century, the then Peshwa Baji Rao I , sent his brother Chimaji Appa to take over the Bassein Fort from Portuguese, later after winning the battle of Vasai, on the insistence of Shankerji Pant, Chimaji Appa lauched an attack on Arnala Fort but it was a disaster, as the Maratha forces under the naval command of Manaji Angre was routed by the superior Portuguese naval forces, but however during the second attack on 28 March 1737 the Marathas caught Portuguese by surprise and forced them to abandon the fort. The Marathas rebuilt the fort and constructed 3 bastions Bahirav, Bhavani and Bava later this fort was lost by Marathas to the Britishers in 181. The Arnala and the Bassien Fort were returned to Marathas in the treaty of Salabai but yet again the fort went back to Britishers under the treaty of Pune.
Journey Continues :
I hope now that you have brushed up little history let's move back to our journey, After getting down the bus we walked and passed through the narrow lanes which housed fishermen houses to reach the Ferry Wharf. The earlier boat had just left and the next boat would be coming in 15 minutes so we spent our time clicking pictures
|Photo session at the Ferry wharf|
|The rocking boat|
|Uninviting hot sand|
|Walk through the village to the fort|
|Fishermen folks unloading the mud bags|
|Few abandoned boats|
The Fort entrance has this beautiful carving of a tiger and an elephant. I had read about this carving of Elephant and tiger so was very keen to capture it on my camera
|Carvings of Tiger and the Elephant on the main entrance|
but I was shocked and saddened by the state of the gate, Some voyeuristic people who I never understood, as to what pleasure they get in proclaiming their love on the walls of heritage site,had defaced it.
|Shameful destruction of heritage site|
Another thing on entering the gate I noticed was the stack of sand bags, which meant that the restoration work is going.
|Stack of sand bags meant for the restoration work|
|Broken walls of old quarters|
|Lovely sea view from the fort|
|Bird's eye view of Fort Complex|
|Walking on the interconnected Rampart of the fort|
|Some pretty sights from Fort windows|
|Passages at the bastions|
|Blocked passage due to the mud,dust and the plastic waste thrown by the visitors to the fort|
|Shrine of Hazratshah Alishah Baba,|
On the way as we were walking we noticed this Banyan tree where we couldn't help taking some swings as they say Dil toh bacha hai ji !!
|Swinging times ..Dil tho bacha hai ji|
|Ruins or Past National Glory|
After finishing our swinging session at the Banyan tree we moved to the Shiva Temple.
|Shiva Temple with the octagonal well opposite it.|
|Perfect place to meditate|
|View from the Temple|
Just outside this Shiva temple there is this unique Octagonal water well which has steps leading down the well and on the periphery of the well wall there was this Ganapati Idol. after offering our prayers to Ganpatiji and Shivji we started to move out of the Fort
|Unique Octagonal Water well|
|Steps leading to the well|
|Ganpati Idol on the periphery wall of octagonal well|
|Small rear exit door of the Fort|
|Walk along the coast brought us near this Stone watch Tower|
|Stone watch tower with scattered abandoned boat around it|
|Small entry passage to the Stone Tower|
The problem was that it was blocked due to growth of vegetation and the passing local fishermen who saw me peeking through the narrow passage, warned me not to try any stunt of entering through this narrow passage as there could be snakes so I dropped my frivolous idea and moved on for the return journey back to the ferry wharf or jetty.Walking along the island coast we reached the point where in the morning the boat had dropped us, Now standing in the middle of nowhere its little difficult to know whether you are at the right place.
|Is it a deserted Island|
|Mata Kalika and Shitla Mata Temple|
|Kalika and Shitla Mata Mandir with it's large courtyard where we had our lunch|
Points to Remember:
1. Carry your own water and food as the fort is on island so you may not get the stuff.
2. Once you reach the island please do enquire when the last boat will leave.
3.While alighting the boat ensure all your belongings like camera,mobile etc are in your bag because the possibility of their getting wet is very high.
4.Bus/autos are easily available to go till Arnala Naka.
5.If coming by car , remember that the Arnala Naka is a very crowed place so parking could be a big headache in that case you may have to park your car near Arnala Beach.