We were longing for an outing or excursion to some tourist destination, and were wondering where to go. Going out of Mumbai, would take too long, and we just had a weekend with us, to enjoy.
Sulking in the monotony of our routine life, we all desperately needed a change- freedom from the treadmill. One of our colleagues and friend, Kaustubh, who lives in Vasai, suggested to visit the Vasai Fort.
This grandiose structure also known as Bassein Fort is located 77 kilometers away from Mumbai. It is situated at Vasai Road, a distant suburb in North Mumbai. Vasai Road is the third last station on the western railway towards Virar. It comes under the Thane district.
One can take a passenger train for Surat from Mumbai Central, and get down at Vasai Road, or board a Mumbai Suburban Local train in the Western line bound for Virar, and get down at the Vasai Road Station. The remnants of the fort, are around 11 kilometers from the Vasai Railway station, and could be reached by Taxi or bus or autorickshaw.
So three of my colleagues, Kaustubh, Lakshmi, Ashwini and I, rendezvoused at Dadar Station and boarded a Virar bound local from there, and got down at Vasai Road station. From there the four of us, went by taxi to the fortress. We passed through a huge fish market on the way, which is outside of the fort, in the village adjoining the same.
We came across a volunteer guide over there, alias `Raju` who told us about the history of the fort.We learnt from him the fort was built by the Portugese in 1534, as their headquarters for operations until 1739. In the 18th century the fort was captured by the Maratha Army led by Peshwa Baji Rao`s brother Chimaji Appa.
The ramparts of the fort overlook the Vasai creek; we could see several watch towers, with staircases going up. Inside the fort the remnants of the Portugese buildings are mostly in ruins, with some of them having well-preserved facades.
Many of the arches, invariably adorned with carved stones, have weathered the years very conspicuously. Some of them weathered beyond recognition, while few still showing sharp chisel marks.
The fort walls bear plaques and even old cannons. There are seven old churches including a cathedral. There are many plaques on the fort walls and some old cannons too.
While my other colleagues were enjoying a wonderful picnic out here, I was observing the wonderful flaura and fauna out here, amidst the dilapidated monument. One gets to see butterflies, birds, plants and even reptiles, in and around the fortress.
The fort is in a dilapidated state today, though many parts of the fort have been refurbished by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Many bollywood film scenes have been shot over here, which include Josh, Khamoshi, Ram Gopal Verma's Aag etc.