Korlai Fort is also called EL Morro or Castle Curlew is a Portuguese fortification in the town of Korlai Maharashtra, India. In Portuguese, implies a small, rounded hill. It was built on an island (Morro de Chaul) which guards the way to the Revdanda Creek. It was meant as a companion to the fort at Chaul. At this strategic position, the Portuguese could use it to defend their province which stretched from Korlai to Bassein. This fort was built in 1521 under the permission from Sultanate of Ahmednagar. The fort moved from hands of Portuguese to Ahmednagar sultanate and back to Portuguese and finally in hands of Maratha’s from 1739 – 1818. The fort is 2828 feet long with an average breadth is 89 feet. It had 305 battlements for guns and could be entered by 11 gates (four outers and seven inners). Vestiges of the Portuguese occupation are manifested in the distinct dialect of the Korlai villages inhabitants which is a Luso-Indian Portuguese Creole called Kristi.
It was undoubtedly one of the more important forts of the 16th century. The fort passed into Maratha hands, and later into those of the British in the eighteenth century. While the British are said to have used a beacon on the island to help ships navigate, the fort was neglected and it eventually crumbled and left the ruins we can see today.
A set of narrow steps cut in the hillside takes us to the fort, where little remains but an old church and the remnants of a rainwater harvesting system. A climb to the fort is worth the effort, simply for the views. But if you are deterred by the condition of the steps, you can still enjoy the view from the lighthouse. The Korlai fort lighthouse was commissioned soon after India gained independence. It was built in 1955 and the island once more began being used.
It is easily approachable by road. The road from Korlai bus stop ends at the Lighthouse. The fort has three entrance. The entrance from western side is the easiest way, it is from the Lighthouse side. Climbing few steps one reaches in the middle of the fort. The entrance from the eastern side is a tedious walk of 20 minutes. This route is the main route and the entrance is through the main gate, but this route is not recommended in rainy season as this is the less used route. The entrance from the port side or northern side is a good one. One can reach there by walking along a path from the lighthouse. There is ample of water on the topmost fortification, so a night halt can easily be made.
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