Peeping into the Arabian Sea, nestling between Alibag and Murud, the popular tourist spots of Mumbaikars, is a world much unknown to the most of Maharashtra – Korlai.

Korlai is a 2 faced village, both by its geography and its soul. Both sides of the village are straddled by the sea, with the marathi fisher-folks on one side, and the indo-portuguese speaking villagers on the other side.

Korlai Fishing Village at the foothills of Castle Curlew

Standing prominent on the rocky headland side of the village is the 16th century Korlai fort, built by the Portuguese. Accounts, though hazy, says that it was originally ‘Castle Curlew’, built by Felipe Mascarenhas who was the 26th Viceroy of Portuguese India. When it was functional, the fort was protected on the inland side by a ditch, and accessible only by a drawbridge.

One of the interesting pieces of work inside the Korlai fort is the St Mathew’s church built circa 1630. Though now it is an abandoned, idling edifice, its features still give out the strategies and thoughts gone behind its construction.

St Matthews Church at Korlai

The Portuguese were active in India when the European church had a stronghold over the continents, and when Europe was going through the renaissance. The churches they built during that time always acted as a strategic central point (Dan Brown is still writing on it). The same can be observed about the church at the Korlai fort.

Chancel at the Korlai Fort Church

Standing at the chancel, you are taken back in time. The altar has large windows on both the sides, taking your view to the open sea. Apparently, the men laid their guards down and left it to the gods and the clergy to keep a lookout while they were kneeling down for their prayers.

View from the Altar at the Korlai Fort Church

View from the eastern side of the church, with a constant watch on the bay. Revdanda Salav bridge is in the backdrop.

View from the Altar at the Korlai Fort Church

Again, a vigilant window towards the Arabian Sea.

Flight of steps at the Korlai Fort Church

On one side of the church there were a flight of steps leading to nowhere… Probably there was an image or sculpture installed at the top, giving it a chapel status. Or did the Portuguese have some other ideas??

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