Khanderi (Official name Kanhoji Angre Island, Old British name Kennery) is located 5 km off the coast of Maharashtra (off Thal, Kihim) and 20 km south of Mumbai. Khanderi, along with its sister fort Underi (Jaidurg) formed the major fortification along the Maharashtra coast, the former falling under Shivaji's control and the latter under his opponents, the Siddis. The island consists of two high hills, one facing north and the other facing south, both of the islands were initially unsettled. In 1967, Khanderi was occupied by the forces of Shivaji who oversaw the building of the fortifying walls. Khanderi fort was built by Marathas king Shivaji in early 1660 to keep a check on the Siddis at Murud-Janjira fort and was the site of many battles between Shivaji's forces and the navy of Sidi. It contained two wells to supply water to the forces within, and a temple of Sri Betal.
The fort remained under the rule of Marathas until 1750, which later became a part of the Peshwa territory. Moreover, the fort was under the British rule, where they built a lighthouse, which is in ruins at present. This lighthouse was called as an octagonal masonry tower, which was built in 1867 with a height of 75 ft. On a flat-roofed house, it was constructed with a lantern in the center, which is 161 ft above the sea level. At the time of danger, a red ray was shown, which covered the seaward of Alibaug and Cul. To the north-east of the tower, there were a 200 ft high flagstaff stand. At present, the fort is under the control and management of Bombay Port Trust Administration. By using local boats, visitors can reach the site with the permission of Bombay Port Trust.
Places to visit:
As we sail towards Khanderi from Thal, we can clearly see the walls and the Light-house on the fort. The island has two mounds, on north and south. The jetty on the fort is in the central part between these mounds. There is a canon buried near the tourist entrance. As we get to the fort, we can roam about by following a trail along the ramparts.
Following are the distinct places on the fort:
The Temple of Vetala (Spirits):
To the right side of the jetty is a wooden temple, where a huge stone is worshipped as Vetala or the spirit. The folklore tells that the stone grows in size every year. There is a festival each year during Holi when pilgrims gather here for worship.
The ramparts and the canons with cartwheels:
There are around 16 bastions on the fort, and we can have a look as we walk on the walls of the fort. There are a couple of bastions where we find the canons. These are provided with stairs at regular intervals to descend inside the fort. Since the fort was under the custody of Mumbai Port Trust since the British rule, a lighthouse was built here and a helipad is also installed. Below the helipad, there is a small door in the walls which takes us outside on the beach, from where we can have a good look at the fort walls.
The lighthouse was built in 1867 and is functional since then. It is about 25 m high, and a good place to have the view of the fort completely and the surrounding area.
The “Metallic” rock:
Once we start from the right side of the Jetty and complete our round, we again come to the front where we can see an amazing rock. When struck with another stone, it creates a noise like a metal vessel and is very unique.
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