Mumbai is famous for its forts. Today, the remnants of old forts stands testament to the valour of warriors of Maratha Empire
who put up a defiant and resolute opposition to often superior armies.
The forts have stood witness to the tide of time. Its walls and gates still bear the scars of battles that were fought. The influence of foreign powers on these forts too can hardly be denied. Even to this day, the forts reverberate with the valour of the Maratha warriors.
1. Bassein Fort
The Bassein Fort
is a fort near Vasai which is located just north of Mumbai
on the mainland just north of the Bombay. It was established by the Portuguese as the headquarters of their Indian operations in 1534 and centre of their operations until 1739. With this as the main base, they built other smaller forts such as the Castella de Aguada, and strong houses in many of the islands. In the 18th century, the fort was attacked by the Maratha army under Peshwa Baji Rao
, and fell in 1739 after a three year long campaign. The ramparts overlook Vasai creek
and are almost complete, though overgrown. Several watchtowers still stand, with safe staircases leading up. The Portuguese buildings inside the fort are in ruins, although there are enough standing walls to give a good idea of the floor plans of these structures. In particular, many of the arches have weathered the years remarkably well. They are usually decorated with carved stones, some weathered beyond recognition, and others still displaying sharp cut marks. Three chapels inside the fort are still recognisable. They have a typical structure of 17th century Portuguese churches. The southernmost of the fort has a well-preserved barrel vaulted ceiling.
2. Castella de Aguada
Castella de Aguada or the "Fort of the Waterpoint" is a Portuguese fort at Land`s End, Bandra in the city of Mumbai and India. The fort was built in 1640 as a watch-tower overlooking the Mahim Bay, the Arabian Sea
and the southern island of Mahim. After the seven islands of Mumbai were ceded to the British in 1661, the fort became an important watch tower between the Portuguese held Salsette Island
on which it stood, and the British held islands to the south. In 1739 the island was invaded by the Maratha Empire and was subsequently ruled by them until 1761 when the British evicted them off the island. With the purpose of the fort now no longer necessary, it began to decay. Remnants of the fort still exist, though most of it is rubble.
3. Dongri Fort
The Dongri Fort, like other forts in Mumbai, is in a decaying condition. It was built by the the East India Company in the 17th century after evicting the original Koli tribe
from the island. The Mumbadevi Temple
of the Dongri Kolis has eventually given the city its name. The fort is very important in need of restoration and has been classified as endangered by the Archaeological Survey of India
4. Madh Fort
Madh Fort (also called Versorva Fort) is a fort in northern Mumbai, India. It was probably built by the Portuguese as a watch tower. After it became obsolete, it became a training place for military cadets. It is located in Madh Island
. It is secluded and difficult to reach, about 15 km from Malad. Some Bollywood movies like Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega are shot at this location.
5. Mahim Fort
The Mahim Fort is a fort in Mahim, in Mumbai (Bombay), India. It was built by the first governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier (1669-1677). It was part of the larger Bombay Castle. It overlooks the Mahim Bay and Bandra to the north. Strategically located it was a defence post against possible Portuguese attacks from the north (which owned the Salsette Island across the Mithi River
) and later from the Marathas. In 1684, Sir Thomas Grantham strengthened the fort. In 1772, the Portuguese attempted to attack this fort, but the British with cannon balls repelled them. The Mount Mary`s Bascilica also was damaged during this encounter. According to accounts, the fort had 100 soldiers and 30 cannons then. The fort lies off the Mahim Causeway, which links the suburbs to the city. The mushrooming of slums and encroachment around the fort has lead to it being in a dilapidated state, with cracks appearing. Tidal changes in the Mahim Creek have also contributed to structural changes. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link poses a threat to it.
6. Mazagon Fort
The Mazagaon Fort is a fort in Mumbai (Bombay), India in the Mazagaon area. Not much is know about this fort, though it was built by the British and was captured by Yadi Sakat of Janjira
7. Riwa Fort
The Riwa Fort (also Rewah Fort), locally known as Kala Qilla or Black Fort, is a fort in central Mumbai (Bombay), India on the banks of the Mithi River. The fort is currently in a dilapidated condition amidst the Dharavi
slums. It was built by the first governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier (1669-1677). It was part of the larger Bombay Castle, and marked the northern portion of British-held Bombay in the 17th century. The castle was also used as a watchtower, guarding the territory against the Portuguese-held (and later Maratha-held) Salsette Island.
8. Sewri Fort
The Sewri Fort is a fort built by the British in Sewri in Mumbai (Bombay) in 1680 as a check post. Its ruins stand on a quarried hill, near the railway station. The fort was subsequently used to house prisoners and later became a Bombay Port Trust store. In 1769, Yadi Sakat of Janjira had conquered the Sewri and Mazagon Forts. It had a garrison of 50 sepoys under a subedar, and was probably equipped with 8-10 cannons. It`s famous had cannons repelled a Portuguese attack in 1772. The fort is currently owned by Maharashtra State`s Department of Archaeology and Museums.
9. Sion Hillock Fort
The Sion Hillock Fort is a fort in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The British Governor of Bombay Gerard Aungier atop a conical hillock built it. The hillock is situated a few metres from the Sion railway station. Sion was the boundary between British-held Parel Island and Portuguese held Salsette Island and the castle marked the northeast boundary of their possession. The fort was built between 1669 and 1677. At the base of the hill is the branch office of the Archaeological Survey of India, and a garden - the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
Udyan. The fort is dilapidated and a collection of broken stone steps, scattered walls and ruins, overrun by trees and ground cover. The fort wall has a small room on top with wooden trussed ceiling of old tree trunks. A series of pathways lead to it. The fort offers a panoramic view, overlooking the salt pans in the Thane Creek. However vandalism and apathy have taken toll on the structure. Nearby forts include the Riwa Fort and Sewri Fort.
10. Worli Fort
The Worli Fort
is an ancient British fort in Worli area in Bombay, India. The fort, often mistakenly referred to as being built by the Portuguese, was actually built by the British around 1675. The fort, built on the Worli hill, overlooked the Mahim Bay at a time the city was made up of just seven islands. It was used as a lookout for enemy ships and pirates. The upkeep of the fort has been impossible due to its inaccessibility, as the roads leading to it are completely blocked by illegal hutments that have cropped up over the years, only to be overlooked by the local authorities for the sake of electoral gain and bribes paid for allowing illegal constructions. The fort is completely in ruins today and a slum has enveloped the structure, making it a den for illegal activities like the brewing of illicit liquor within its confines. A bell tower peeps out of the ruins and the ramparts are used to dry clothes. Historians have often called for the protection of the area but their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.