BANDRA FORT. (CASTELLA DE AGUADA – 1640)
One of the well-known places in Mumbai amongst the youth is Bandra fort a.k.a Bandra Bandstand. Even if you haven’t been there you might have seen these places in Bollywood movies or songs. There is also an amphitheater where most of the concerts and competitions happen. One of the most amazing views from the forts is of Bandra fort and the sunset is to die for and this must be in your bucket list to spend an evening with your loved one while having ‘bhutta’ (corn). Also, I recommend you go with your friend’s circle and not with your family. And those of who are having a smile while reading the previous statement you know what I am talking about. This place is mostly crowded in the morning & evening times. A well-landscaped area surrounded by the fort.
Bandra fort was built by the Portuguese in 1640. At the entry of the fort, you’ll notice a flat arch in stone with a stairway leading to the fort area. The staircase is built in completely stone masonry. This staircase is east-west in the direction so you get a fantastic view of Bandra Worli sea link on the south and a panoramic view of coastline overlooking the sunset in the west and north. The elevation of the fort is maximum as compared to other forts. The fort was placed at the top of the mountain as it is used as a “WATCHTOWER” overlooking Mahim Bay, the Arabian sea and the southern island of Mahim.
The Portuguese who had established a base in the area in 1534 after defeating Bahadur Shah of Gujarat built several sea forts along the western Indian coastline. CASTELLA DE AGUADA was one such strategically located fort. This sea route, a large estuary was later reclaimed from the sea in the Nineteenth century. A freshwater spring in the vicinity supplied potable water to passing ships, thus lending the fort its name. After the decline of the Portuguese in the early 18th century, the Marathas became the largest threat to the British possessions. Sensing an impending Portuguese defeat, the British partially demolished the fort as a precautionary measure.
In 1739, the island was invaded by the Marathas. It was ruled by them until 1774 when the British gained possession of the area during the First Anglo-Maratha War. In 1830, the British donated the large parts of Salsette Island including Land ends to Byramjee Jeejeebhoy a Parsi Philanthropist. He then established his residence on the hill where the fort is located and the cape was renamed Byramjee Jeejeebhoy point.
In the present scenario, the fort is owned by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Included in the fort makeover is the preservation of the natural rock formations, providing pathways & the creation of an amphitheater. The architect for the makeover was P.K.DAS who had earlier redesigned the carter road area.
Strategically located at the Mahim bay, the fort overlooks Worli to the south, Bandra to the north and Mahim to the east. Origin of the fort is unclear but it occupies a strategic location that has been frequently contested. The fort is currently in disrepair, suffering from administrative neglect, the encroachment of slums and exposure to tidal erosion.
In 1516, Portuguese commander Dom Joao De Monoy entered the Mahim creek and defeated the commander of Mahim fort. The fort was the site of frequent skirmishes between Portuguese and Ali Shah a Gujrati ruler before the island of Mahim was appropriated from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat by the Portuguese in 1534.
In 1661, the Portuguese ceded the island of Mahim as dowry to Charles II of England. After the English gained control of the fort, it was strengthened by SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM and became a strategic watchtower against possible Portuguese attacks and later from Marathas.
In 1772, the Portuguese attempted to attack this fort but they were repelled by the British with cannonballs. The Mount Mary’s Basilica was Damaged during this encounter. The fort was captured by the British during the First Anglo-Maratha War.
The fort lies off the Mahim Causeway which links the suburbs to the city. The fort is heavily encroached by slums, and parts of the fort have caved in due to tidal erosion and neglect. Though the site is classified as a Grade I heritage structure, nothing much has been done to maintain it. Large boulders are strewn on the sand and crevices as high as three meters (fifteen feet) are visible. Responsibility of the fort is shuffled between the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, although the fort lies of state government land. In 2004, rupees five lakhs had to be returned as the encroachments were not removed by local authorities.
So, this ends the Cinque of forts in Mumbai where we covered 5 main forts in Mumbai. There is also Rewa/ Riwa Fort aka Dharavi fort, then there is Dongri fort as well. Though these used to be the focal points in the history of Mumbai now they are just converted in parks, socializing spaces or some just went unnoticed. Next coming up on our blog will be how these islands created a flux of trade and culture in the city and a boom was created. Until then you can share this with your friends. Also, we upload amazing photographs on Instagram @armohsinsheikh
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