At a distance of 5 km from Velas, 10 km from Harihareshwar, and 24 km from Srivardhan, Bankot Fort is an ancient fort situated at Bankot village in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Overlooking the Bankot Creek, it is one of the historical forts in Maharashtra, and among the best places to visit during Harihareshwar tour.
Also known as Himmatgad, the Bankot Fort is situated at the highest point on the junction where river Savitri meets the sea. It is believed to have been established with the motive of guarding the trade route which ran along the Savitri River. As it is located atop a small hill, the fort provides its visitors with a commanding view of the nearby settlement and the sea. It is one of the best tourist places in Harihareshwar.
The origin of Bankot Fort is unknown but a brief history can still be traced about this fort. In the first century, a Greek philosopher named Ptolemy had mentioned this fort as 'Mangir'. The Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang is supposed to have embarked in Bankot in 640 AD. It is said that the fort was captured by the Portuguese from Adil Shah in 1548 and was later acquired by Maratha Koli Admiral Kanhoji Angre in 1700 and named Himmatgad. British forces captured the fort in 1756 and named it Fort Victoria. Bankot was the first residency of the British Raj in Southern Konkan.
Bankot Fort is a square-shaped fort surrounded by moats dug up in the red laterite. The main entrance faces north and is decorated with stone carvings. Near the entrance are vestibules for gatekeepers. On the left, there are steps leading towards Nagarkhana while there is an underground storey and a tunnel on the right. On the west, there is a small entrance (Darwaja) leading to a Bastion on the exterior of the fortifications. A deep well (now dry and filled) occupied the center of this bastion earlier. There is a secret entrance near this bastion.
The fort's protective fortifications and bastions have been preserved till date. There is a Ganeshpatti of Lord Ganesh on the main entrance. One can also see a graveyard lying in the outer regions of the fort. The graves are comprised of vertical pillars as headstones and marble inscriptions.
Ferries can be hired to reach the Bankot Fort through the Bankot creek and the ride is a pleasant one. The ferries even take four-wheelers across the creek.
Timings: 6 AM - 6 PM