Mumbai has been the principal island on the Konkan belt known for its strategic location and the history of commercialization. To safeguard the city and its surrounding areas from invaders, many forts were built along the years surviving several eras and kings who ruled back then. One such fort of significance which still stands tall is the Vasai Fort, also known as the Bassein Fort located in Vasai village, near Mumbai. Today, this fort is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and holds national importance.
The Vasai Fort overlooks the Ulhas river and is one of the iconic places to visit in Mumbai. The quaint village of Vasai was first visited by the Portuguese in 1509 and was known as a ship building hub. Historians state that the Bassein Fort (as the Portuguese called it) was first built by Bahadur Shah, a Mughal emperor in the 1530’s. It was captured and destroyed by the Portuguese who then transformed its architecture to make a citadel and was under the Portuguese influence till 1739. In the 18th century, the Vasai Fort was captured by the Maratha rule under the army of Chimaji Appa who ruled here for 3 years before surrendering to the British in the first Anglo-Maratha war.
With a glorying history to narrate, the Vasai Fort attracts many visitors throughout the year, especially during the Monsoon. Although the then mighty fort has now turned into ruins, visitors are yet marveled by many remains of Portuguese architecture. The entrance of the fort has huge wooden doors which were then encrusted with iron knobs. Visitors can climb up several watch-towers which still stand safe to have stunning panoramic views. Three chapels depicting 17th century Portuguese church facades still have decorated chisel markings on their stones. The southernmost of these has a well-preserved barrel-vaulted ceiling which is worth seeing. One can also see remains of broken ships and anchors in surrounding areas.
The fort is surrounded by the Arabian sea on three sides and has panoramic views making it an ideal location for photoshoots and Bollywood movie sets! Famous films like ‘Khamoshi’ and ‘Ram Gopal Varma’s Aag’ have used the backdrop of the Vasai fort in many of their scenes. The Vasai fort and its surrounding areas has also lately taken over by nature lovers to observe various species of plants, butterflies, birds and reptiles.
How to reach –
Vasai is easily accessible by road. Public transport like buses and taxis are available all over Mumbai. Its located about 73 kms from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. One can also take the Mumbai local train on the western line to reach Vasai station and take a local bus or auto-rikshaw to reach the fort.