Korlai Fort, Alibaug
About Korlai Fort
This fort was built in 1521 by the Portuguese with the permission of the Ahmednagar sultanate. In 1521, taking advantage of the confusion in the aftermath of the death of the Burhan Nizam the Portuguese tried to take over the fort. However the sultan retaliated and sent some of his best men to reclaim the fort. Subsequently, a truce was reached in which the Ahmednagar sultanate occupied the island and no further fortification of the island took place. Only a wooden cross remained on the island as a sign of its former rulers. However, in 1594, Abranches, a Portuguese captain with 1,500 soldiers and 1,500 natives took possession of the fort. The besieged soldiers of the Sultanate tried to block their way by putting a dead elephant at the main gate and a dead horse at the inner gate. But in the end they had to surrender. The Portuguese won the fort but not having enough men to stand guard there chose to destroy it leaving only the central tower and a battery intact. Before its destruction, Korlai had been described by travelers as a "magnificent fortress as strong as any other in the world". On the inland side - the only place where it was susceptible to be attacked it was protected by a ditch and could only be accessed by a drawbridge. The main entrance was guarded by a bronze lion and the highest tower by a bronze eagle. It housed 7,000 horses and as much men. Some parts of it were rebuilt later but now had a garrison of only 50 men. The church within the fort was used for worship on Sundays and holidays. Korlai fort was also strategically very important as it guarded the mouth of the bay. Sambhaji the son of Shivaji tried to take it over but failed and had to withdraw his forces on 6 December 1687. The fort was taken by the Marathas who held it from 1739-1818.