One of the enduring symbols of Maharashtra's rich historical past is the Sindhudurg Fort. The fort derives its name from the combination of two words, Sindhu meaning sea and Durg meaning fort. Sindhudurg is just 510 km from Mumbai on the Goa Highway. One can take a ferry from the Malvan Port to the island fort.Also known as the Malvan Fort, this citadel is located half a kilometer away from the mainland port of Malvan. Shivaji wanted to build an impregnable island fort at a considerable distance from the supposedly unbreachable Janjira Fort and thus selected the rocky island of Kurute. The location of the fort was strategically chosen byShivaji to counter foreign forces coming from the shore, as well as for safeguarding the kingdom from neighbouring rulers. It is also believed that the fort was constructed by Shivaji to keep a check on the activities of Siddis of Murud-Janjira, who wanted to destroy his kingdom.The 2 km long ramparts of this fort stretch across the undulating periphery of this large and rocky island. The foundations of the fort were strengthened by using molten lead mixed with mortar. More than 70000 kilos of iron were used for casting. The construction of this fort began in 1664 and took 3 years to complete. It is believed that the great warrior king himself lent a hand in building the fort.Sindhudurg covers an extensive area of 48 acres with almost 2 miles of fortified rampart walls 29 ft high and 12 ft thick, comprising observation towers and 52 enormous semicircular bastions with embrasures for cannons. The top of the ramparts was accessible by stone staircases at various points. Some bastions contain hidden exit ways that lead out of the fort.The entrance to the fort is by the Dilli Darwaja to the north-east. The main gate is so well camouflaged within the folds of the rampart walls that it is visible only at really close quarters. A shrine to Goddess Jarimari guards the entrance to the fort. On the right, perched atop the main gate, is the fort's most prized relic - the footprint and palm impression of the revered Shivaji Maharaj, set on a slab of dry lime.Apart from the customary shrines of Bhawani, Mahadeo, Jarimari and Mahapurush, Sindhudurg enjoys the distinction of having the only temple dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji, which was built by his son Rajaram. One does also come across some ruins of ancient temples, wells and cisterns throughout the fort. The Shivaji Jayanti, Ram Navami, Janmashtami, Mahashivratri and Ganesh Chaturthi are some of the prominent festivals celebrated here on a grand scale.Some of the temples are still in use and are maintained by the 20 odd families that live on this island fort. The Sakpal Naik family, the original killedars, still reside in one of the 16 houses within the fort.