Monday, July 12, 2010

Vasai fort

Seventy kilometres north of Bandra lies Vasai which though technically part of Thane district is practically a part of Mumbai. The Mumbai local train operates between Virar, a station after Vasai, in the north and Churchgate in the South. About twenty years back farm fresh vegetables would be brought to Mumbai by ‘Vasaiwallah’ every morning. But now Vasai has grown into a bustling township from a sleepy dormitory some years back. It is in this seaside township there exist the ruins of a fort built by the Portugese in 1590. Drove down all the way for a glimpse of history. It is a huge fort and we started our tour at the Holy Name of Jesus church (also known as Jesuits church - but currently known to local people as Gonsalo church) which is being renovated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) . Sadly, the side walls which have been renovated (plastered) have totally lost their historic touch and the old world charm. The chapels inside the fort are still recognisable. They have façades typical of 17th century Portuguese churches. The southernmost of these has a well preserved barrel vaulted ceiling.
Barrel vaulted ceiling
A church inside the fort
Broken pieces of carvings Tombstones inside the church
Almost on every wall of the fort, there are trees whose roots damage the structures.
Trees on walls
A settlement inside the fort Locals in their traditional attire
Formerly, the fort protected the province of Bassein and offered shelter to about 60,000 inhabitants.
Altar of one of the churches Bell tower
Vasai was the main naval base and ship-building centre of the Portuguese.
One of the entrances to the fort
The Portuguese settled here because they were shrewd enough to recognize the importance of Bassein as a strategic place on western coast.
View from the ramparts
In the 18th century the fort was attacked by the Maratha army under Baji Rao Peshwa, and fell on 16th May 1739 after a three year long campaign and a desperate resistance from the Portuguese. They left Bassein on 23rd May 1739. After 205 years of uninterrupted Portuguese rule, Bassein was progressively neglected, and the neighboring English Bombay assumed importance in trade and commerce. What remains of this Sea fort are the parts of the imposing fort walls, two access doors and vestiges of town houses and churches. Inside the fort there is a Hanuman temple and the priest looking after the temple claimed it existed from Chimaji Appa’s time. The ramparts overlook Vasai creek and are almost complete, though overgrown. Several watch-towers still stand, with safe staircases leading up.
Steps leading up to the tower
The toddy tappers
Outside one of the walls of the fort, there is a small thatched residence of Bengalis who tap toddy from the palms for sale. The fort now has become a picnic spot for families and groups wanting to spend a day together. There are no eateries around so one has to carry ones own supplies of food and drink. Here is a map to help you get there View Larger Map

30 comments:

  1. I was present too with the post.
    Very nicely presented. Keep writing And Yes, Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Rich & amazing!






    Aloha from Hawaii, friend :)

    Comfort Spiral

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  3. WOW, I cant believe this.
    I remember going on sketching study tours to the Vasai beaches and returning with sunburns but we were never taken to this fort!
    Thanks for sharing such exotic photographs. Fantastic angles there.
    Ans Yes, I do remember the 'VasaiWallahs' coming at our doorstep with fresh green vegetables. Two baskets hanging from each end of a long wooden bow looking like a balance on his shoulder. :D

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  4. It has a church and a temple too? India truly is a melting pot ....

    Loved the pics Deepak

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  5. Good pictures and great narration. A very interesting post!

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  6. Deepak, that was a most interesting and fascinating journey. I really appreciate such detail and historic information...and, of course, from you, one would expect nothing but the finest photography which you have given us. Many thanks.

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  7. a lovely tour of a place in the heart of Mumbai...Thanks!

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  8. Honestly, I have never crossed the northern borders of Bangalore. South, yes, I have visited almost every nook and corner of Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

    You blog makes me feel I should soon head towards north.

    Great pics.

    By the way I have tagged you in one my posts: http://joshimukard.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/287/

    check it out

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  9. Honestly, I have never crossed the northern borders of Bangalore. South, yes, I have visited almost every nook and corner of Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

    You blog makes me feel I should soon head towards north.

    Great pics.

    By the way I have tagged you in one my posts: http://joshimukard.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/287/

    check it out

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  10. What a nice post full of amazing pictures!

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  11. I love this fort and it looks like a great day trip to take from Mumbai!

    I cannot believe that there are so many carvings left strewn across the fort. A clever soul should pop the in a museum before they are sold off to collectors!

    The view from the fort is stunning!

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  12. i normally read ppl's travel log from a tourist/visitor point of view of certain places. yours definitely interesting to hear some insider! :D

    btw: thank you for the well wishes. we truly appreciate it :)

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. OMG!!! I never knew of this place!!! Thought my friend lives in Vasai, he's never told me bout this place!!! Missed it!!!
    Must visit in my next visit to Mumbai!!!

    Arnattan Malai - In search of Tamil Brahmi Script
    On a Casual Date - Style 3

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  15. you know your posts bring alive the romance of these fascinating and forgotten places no guide book will ever tell me about.I absolutely love this post.
    thanks and Kudos!
    varsha

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  16. What a fantastic place! The building façade is so unusual!

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  17. Actually quite sad to see a place of such historic importance reduced to ruins and also being completely ignored...

    BTW, I have hosted a contest on my blog and the price would be an Advertising SPOT for 180 days..

    Hope you participate too..


    Pixellicious Photos

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  18. Fascinating tour -- you make a great guide. Thanks for your email steering me here.

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  19. Hi, it is now Aug 2010 and I would love to go to the fort, but can't find out if it has opening times, or is even closed during monsoon? Can you enlighten me at all? I would like to avoid a 4hr round trip with kids if the place is closed.
    Vic

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  20. Hi Vic,
    The fort has no timings and open all days. But would be a safer bet to visit in daylight.
    Can mail you a map of the fort if you wish.
    Happy visiting!

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  21. so many years in mumbai, yet missed it.
    the first pic was really beautiful. the shades of green so fresh!

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  22. NIce post..........enjoyed.....Manoj

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  23. Absolutely interesting and amazing very soon i am going to blog on fort inspired by you.

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