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Brief History of the Diocese
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Sindhudurg district is the southern part of the greater tract known as the ‘Konkan’.  It is historically famous for its long coastline and safe harbours. Sindhudurg district was part of the Ratnagiri district, but for administratative convenience and industrial and agricultural development Ratnagiri district was divided into Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts with effect from 1st May 1981. Sindhudurg district now comprises of the talukas of Kudal, Malvan, Devgad, Kankavli, Sawantwadi, Dodamarg and Vengurla carved out from Ratnagiri  district and the new taluka of Vaibhawadi, created by transfer of 53 villages from Bavda taluka of Kolhapur district.

The word ‘Konkan’ is of Indian origin and of considerable antiquity, though the origin of the name has never been sufficiently explained. The seven kingdoms of the Konkan of Hindu mythology are mentioned in the ‘Hindu History of Kashmir’ and are said to have  included nearly the whole of the west coast of India. The Pandavas are said to have passed through this region in the 13th year of their exile and had settled in this area for sometime. The Raja of this region, Veetat Ray, had accompanied them in the famous war at Kurushetra with the Kauravas.

In the second century A.D. the great empire of the Mauryas annexed all the Konkan coast. In the middle of the sixth century  the  Kings of the Maurya and Nala dynasties appear to have been ruling in the Konkan. The district of Ratnagiri was under the Silaharas and the capital of their kingdom was probably Goa and later it may have been transferred to a more central place in the vicinity of Ratnagiri or Kharepatan. Chandrapur was one of the most ancient towns in the Konkan probably founded by Chandraditya a son of the chalukya king Pulakeshin II.

The 16th century saw the advent and rise of Portuguese power on the west coast of India and in Sindhudurg. The sultan lost hold on the district in 1675 with the rise of Shivaji,  leading finally, into the hands of Marathas who continued to rule the district till 1817 i.e., when the struggle between the British and the Peshwas came to an end and the whole of the Konkan was transferred to the British.

In 1819 south Konkan was formed as a separate district with its headquarters first at Bankot and later at Ratnagiri. Three northern subdivisions were transferred to Thane district in 1830 and the district was reduced to a sub-collectorate level under Thane district. In 1832, it was again made a full- fledged district and named as Ratnagiri district. In the year 1945, a new mahal ( taluka) called Kankavli Mahal  was formed. The former Indian state of Sawantwadi was merged with the district and the taluka boundaries were reorganized in the year 1949. In the same year the new taluka of Sawantwadi was created and the two mahals ( talukas) namely, Kudal and Lanja were formed. With the reorganisation of the states in 1956, the district was  included in the Bombay state and since 1960 it forms a part of Maharashtra.

The name of the district has been adopted from the famous sea fort of Sindhudurg. This was built by Shivaji Maharaj near Malwan and it literally means ‘Sea Fort’.  Its construction was started on November 25, 1664 and after 3 years it was completed in such a fashion that the the enemy could  easily be seen,  coming from the Arabian sea.

Something more about the Diocese

The area of the Sindhudurg diocese is 21,000 sq. kms.  consisting of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts and Kolhapur district (leaving out the city of Kolhapur)  which consists of the talukas of Ajra, Gadhinglaj, Panhala, Budhargad, Kagal, Radhanagri, and Shahuwadi. The total population of the diocese is about 53,65,706 with 29,794 Catholics. The main language of the Catholics is Konkani at home and Marathi outside.

Prior to 1953 Bijapur and Dharwar were under the diocese of Poona, and Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg were under the Archdiocese of Goa.  In 1953 Bijapur and Dharwar were cut off and added to the Diocese of Belgaum and,  Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg were included in the Diocese of Poona.

Already in 1953 there was a move by Bishop Andrew D’Souza to cut off the four northern districts – East and West of Khandesh,  Nashik and Ahmednagar, due to great distance from one end of the diocese to the other; difficulty in travelling by both rail and road; different cultures of the faithful, difficulty in gathering priests even for retreats and monthly conferences. This materialized only in 1987 when, due to the initiatives of Bishop Valerian D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Poona, the new Diocese of Nashik was created with the districts of Nashik, Jalgaon, Dhule and Ahmednagar, on June 9  1987, with  Rev. Fr. Thomas Bhalerao sj as its first Bishop.

As mentioned above, the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg Districts were part of the Archdiocese of Goa till 1953 after which, because of political reasons, these districts were attached to the Diocese of  Poona. Goa today is one - hour drive by car from the nearest parish, while these parishes are eight hours drive from Pune (about 400 kms.)

The people in the diocese have Goan culture because they migrated from Goa 200 years ago.  The customs and traditions are Goan and entirely different from those of the people of Pune and urban cities. The process to create a new diocese began in March 2001.

The diocese, which was erected on 5th July 2005 was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Bombay.  Now, since 25th November 2006 it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Goa.

 

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Contact Information

Bishop’s House
Kankavli 416602
Dist Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, India
Phone: +91 (02367) 233475/ 232061/ 232661
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Forth Coming Event in the Diocese

28th Oct - 30th Oct

Retreat for 8th, 9th and 10th Std. students in Navsarni Kendra

1st Nov

All Saints Day

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