Jaigad Fort, also known as the Fort of Victory, is a 16th-century fort in the coastal region of Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. The fort's ruins stand firm on a cliff overlooking the Jaigad Creek, where the River Shastri enters the vast and mesmerising Arabian Sea, about 20 kilometres northwest of Ganpatipule. For the purpose for which it was built, Jaigad Fort is an engineering marvel. A glance at the magnificent structure before entering will undoubtedly astound you. A visit to the Jaigad lighthouse, built near the Jaigad fort, is a must.
Jaigad Fort is regarded as one of the most important ports on India's Western Coast. It is also said that the mighty fort was built alongside another fort known as the Vijaygad Fort to protect the creek, with the Vijaygad Fort to the north and the Jaigad Fort to the south. Given the limited resources available then, the intelligence and thoughtful planning at the Jaigad Fort is commendable. The Archaeological Survey of India now manages the fort, which studies most ruins.
The Bijapur Sultanate built the Jaigad Fort but could not maintain its regional power and lost it to the Naiks of Sangameshwar. At the time, the Naiks commanded over 600 troops and owned approximately eight villages. While controlling the magnificent fort, they were attacked by the Portuguese and the Bijapur Sultanate, but the Naiks fought bravely and successfully defended it. The region later became part of the Shivaji dominion and was managed by Balaji Vishwanath Peshwa, who surrendered it to Kanhoji Angre in 1713. During the third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818, however, the British captured the Jaigad Fort.
Some believe that numerous attempts to build the majestic fort were futile. It was only after a human sacrifice that it was completed. Jaiba Malhar, the young boy who willingly gave his life, is thought to be resting on one of the fort's ramparts. The name "Jaigad" was thus derived from the young boy's name.
The Jaigad Fort is about 250 feet above sea level and was built close to the beach. It is surrounded by a moat on both the northern and eastern sides. The canal, known as Khandak in the local dialect, was filled with water to protect against attacks.
Even though the fort is in ruins, some architecture has withstood the test of time and weather. The impressive defence comprises a high upper fortress connected by bastions on the cliff's edge, a lower line of defence on the shore, and two sweet water wells. The winding stairways lead to the upper fortress, from which the lovely creek can be seen. Kanhoji Angre's palace is located in the centre of the fort, along with temples dedicated to Lord Ganesh and Hanuman.
The best time to visit Jaigad Fort is from October to March, when temperatures range from 11 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Located approximately 25 kilometres from Jaigad Fort, Ganpatipule is a serene beach town known for its beautiful Ganpati temple and pristine beaches. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, dip in the Arabian Sea, and visit the renowned Swayambhu Ganpati Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
Explore the historic city of Ratnagiri, around 35 kilometres from Jaigad Fort. Discover the birthplace of freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak and visit his ancestral home, now a museum showcasing his life and contributions. Ratnagiri is famous for its Alphonso mangoes, so savour the delicious local produce.
Approximately 40 kilometres from Jaigad Fort, Pawas is a serene village known for its association with Swami Swaroopanand, a revered spiritual leader. Visit the Swami Swaroopanand Ashram, where his teachings and legacy are preserved, and experience the tranquillity of the surroundings.
Head to Hedvi, about 50 kilometres from Jaigad Fort, for a peaceful beach experience. The black sand beach of Hedvi is surrounded by lush green hills, offering a picturesque setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.
While at Jaigad Fort, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Jaigad Lighthouse. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views of the fort, the Arabian Sea, and the scenic landscape surrounding the area.
Journey approximately 60 kilometres from Jaigad Fort to reach Velneshwar, a coastal village known for its tranquil beach and the ancient Velneshwar Shiva Temple. The temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is an architectural marvel and a popular pilgrimage site.
Explore Ratnadurg Fort in Ratnagiri, located around 70 kilometres from Jaigad Fort. This ancient fort offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea and houses a temple dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati. The fort's historical significance and architectural beauty make it a fascinating destination.
For a serene retreat amidst nature, visit Pawna Lake, approximately 80 kilometres from Jaigad Fort. The picturesque lake, surrounded by lush green hills, offers opportunities for camping, boating, and enjoying the tranquillity of the surroundings.