We were travelling to our next destination of Ratnagiri town in Ratnagiri district. Leaving Ganpatipule (Read my experience in Ganapatipule.) behind, we moved on through mangrove creeks and backwater channels. Some newly painted boat while others old with parts dislodged were laid in front of some courtyard. Fishing nets spread on the floor and some dumped here and there. The props ample enough to portray some fishing village – The true feel of Konkan coast.
Occasionally the air fills up with a smell, staunchy enough to nauseate. Fishes spread under the sun for drying. Not to be surprised to find the cause of the stink. Though the visuals were still pleasing. The small houses with slanting roofs and pretty unsophisticated gardens. The Alphonso orchards with thick stunted trees full of mango inflorescences. The earthy smell of which fills the air and dilutes the previous smell instantly.
Then again some narrow roads and finally we could see the fort and the lighthouse on the top of the hill. Not sure of the correct route we took a few wrong curves to be back on the right path. Even narrower was the road on the ascend to the hill.
At times it seemed our vehicles may brush the boundary walls. Then we reached the Ratnadurg Fort. The brightly painted staircase with the dark, shiny, well-preserved fortification surrounding the temple compound was a picturesque destination.
After climbing the stairs we reached a small beautiful temple within a large compound surrounded by the fortification. Walking on the paved path by the wall and peeking through the consecutive openings gave the proper insight of the structure of the fort. These openings were made with a purpose to keep an all round watch over any approaching enemy from the seaward side.
The fort is surrounded by the Arabian sea on three sides. The strong fortification runs around the area of the fort. The main entrance is in the centre of the horseshoe shaped land projecting into the sea. The fort occupies the total area of it.
On one projection stands the lighthouse, which is called the Siddha Bastion. While on the other projection is the temple. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati and is situated on the upper part of the fort. For the same reason, the fort is also known as Bhagawati Fort.
As per historical facts printed on the signboard within the temple compound. “This fort is also known as Ratangad or Bhagawati Fort. This horseshoe shaped fort has an area of 1300 x 1000 mt on the side of the sea. The fort has a broken cliff, at the bottom of which is a cave. There is a lighthouse on the other side that guides ships up to 15 km. The fort was built during the Bahamani period. Later it was conquered by Adilshah. That in turn, was won by Lord Shivaji in 1670. From 1710 to 1755 it was kept by the Angres and then up to 1810 it was possessed by the Peshwas.”
Every small opening on the wall offered the view of the amazing seascape. While some views of the lighthouse on the top of the hill, the beautiful road down the hill, the strong fortification of the fort and the vast blue sea with white frothy waves splashing on the rocks beneath.
I was much tempted to visit the beautifully placed lighthouse. I missed a couple on my way so I could not afford to leave this opportunity. (Read my experience in Guhagar to know how I had to skip other lighthouses.) Real close and intriguing. So we took the pradakshina around the temple enjoying the natural beauty of the place, paid a visit to the temple and soon we were off to the lighthouse.
Again on wrong than on a correct track. I was determined, under no circumstances I would miss the lighthouse. It was a gated compound with the lighthouse in the centre. One small office building by its side.
With no one around to take permission we opened the gate and went straight to the office to ask for the entry to the lighthouse. After repeated knocks and calls an elderly official came to inform that it is closed now and this is not the visiting hours. He then briskly entered in his office not to return back.
Disheartened and aimless we waited for some time looking around here and there. This is what we call ‘Man proposes God disposes’. So, finally bidding farewell to the Ratnadurg and the lighthouse we moved on to our next and final destination of our road trip – Harnai.