We cross over into Ratnagiri district leaving behind Raigad by crossing the ferry at Bagmandla to Velas. What we are crossing is river Savitri which looks more like a creek and is called Bankot Creek.This happens to almost all the rivers in the Konkan. As the seawater enters through the river mouth upstream at high tide it is difficult to say which part is the river and which is the creek. From Velas it is a short distance to Bankot fort.
Experts do not agree on who constructed many of the forts in Maharashtra. Bankot is one of them although a strong claim is laid on behalf of the Shilahar Dynasty who ruled South Konkan from 765 to 1029 AD.
Whoever buit this fort a few hundred years ago had great foresight. He could foresee crazy old retired couples driving their cars up to the gate of the fort. He made the fort in such a way that they can drive up comfortably. Thank you, sir.
The road upto the fort is steep but not very difficult and passes throgh vegatation including Mango orchards.
This fort is also known as Himmatgadh and , Fort Victoria during its possession by the British.
The fort is not a big one. Whatever remains of it is not in good shape. For most part the lower parts of the fort are inhabited and hence the road going up is in good condition. As usual there is no information of any type about the fort.
This was the first British Residency in South Konkan and had a British officer in residence. There is a memorial erected by Sir Arthur Mallet. These are two structures. One is a visble column and another structure to its right is not clearly visible. Sir Arthur erected these in memory of his wife and daughter who had drown in the Savitri river in a boat accident. This is the same person who built a house at what came to be known as Arthur’s Seat at Mahabaleshwar. It is said that Sir Arthur used to sit and stare down at the origin of the Savitri river at Mahabaleshwar.
The views from the fort are awesome.
The coastal road from Bankot to Kelshi is a nightmare. It takes several hours of tiring driving on roads which do not exist in most parts. The roads are being laid as this is a part of the ambitious coastal highway. A bridge is also being constructed a short distance away from where we crossed the creek. It will take time.
The beach at Kelshi often appears in the tourism promotion literature of Maharashtra government. There are absolutely no facilities at this beach. We could not find anything to eat. May be the tourist season has not started. People are expected after Dipawali which is a week away.
The creek system here is quite complicated and the hills are almost on the seashore making movement along the coast difficult.
We drive on and make a stopover at Anjarle. This place has a beach which I would rate among the best in Maharashtra. The quality of the sand, the cleanliness and the ambience make it a place to stay at although the hostelry is very basic. This picture of Anjarle beach was taken the next day from the hill opposite, across the creek.
& this is from the bridge across the creek.
We found this large Jellyfish on the beach besides many species of bivalve molluscs.
Not exactly at Anjarle but on a nearby place we found these migratory seagulls.
Some new hotels are coming up like the two that you see on the hillside in the picture below. There are two, one very close to the creek and another one on top of the hill.
Apart from Tourism the locals main source of income appears to be coconuts and Arecanuts. Here is a lady de-shelling the nuts and making them ready for the market.
There is a famous Ganapati temple on hills south of the village. It is called ‘Kadyavarcha Ganapati’ or Ganapati on the Cliff. I like the idea of a God being on the cliff. He will be more alert and customer service will be better.
In the compound of the temple is this tree of Bakul. I don’t know what it is called by the Botanists. Its flowers smell very strong and nice and the fruit is edible. The people around claim that it is 300 years old. It had to cut down to size to avoid danger to the temple structures.
From Anjarle the next place in the south is called Harne. The approach is through a narrow road passing throgh a fishing village.
We pass this temple towards the Harne village which is having not two, not three but four Forts within a radius of a kilometer, a record of sorts.
Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik.
NOTE: In this Blog you will come across notes on the coastal forts all over the county. Many of these places do not have any records as to their origins and whoconstructed them. Very little literature dedicated to this subject appears to be available. We are using, for reference, three Marathi booklets authored by Sachin V Joshi and published by Bookmark Publications , Pune. There are three booklets , one each for for Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts , the districts in which many of the forts are located. They are quite useful for the area in question.