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Forts on Ghodbunder Road

Monday, March 19, 2012


Ghodbunder Road (commonly referred to as State Highway 42 or GB Road) is the connecting road between Borivali, Mira Road and Bhayander and Thane. It intersects the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway and cuts through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

I had been planning to see the forts on Ghodbunder Road for a very long time. But Internet exploration and conversations with other trekking groups had failed to yield any information about these forts.
All I knew was that they were located on Ghodbunder Road. I had never travelled on Ghodbunder Road. So I inquired with a few people and they told me that it would take me around an hour to reach Thane. The same people warned me that the road was very dusty.
A few days ago I chatted with Kiran from Wild Ventures and told him that I wanted to visit these forts on Ghodbunder Road. Kiran is a resident of Thane but was unaware of these forts. He immediately agreed to join me in exploring these forts. He too started gathering information as to the whereabouts of these forts and we shared the little information we had with each other.
We decided to meet at 8 am at Hotel Fountain, which is located at the intersection of the Ghodbunder Road and the Ahmedabad Highway. From there we were to explore the forts together on his motorbike.

Bastion on the Fort

I was all set for this trip. After months of asking people on the Internet, I was finally going to visit these forts.  I boarded the Borivali local at Andheri and headed to Borivali railway station.
From here I had many choices. I could board a BEST bus, an ST bus, rickshaw, private vehicle or walk it out.
The BEST bus stop is right outside the station. There are three buses that ply on the Ghodbunder Road, AS-700 AS, AS-458 AS and 700 Ltd. I could locate the bus stop for AS 700 AS, but there was a crowd waiting for that bus. I could not locate the other bus stops so taking my chances I decided to walk a little towards the ST bus depot located equidistant from Borivali station and the Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway.
Luckily I got an empty bus that was about to depart. I immediately boarded this bus. I bought a Rs 10 ticket to Hotel Fountain. This area is known as Versova Bridge. As I was not familiar with Ghodbunder Road, I asked the conductor and the passengers around to guide me to this stop.
The bus goes via Kashi Mira to Ghodbunder Road. This part of the journey was fun. The sun was rising slowly in the distance and the entire city was filled with fog. The view was a pleasant sight to see. As we turned onto Ghodbunder Road, it became chilly as the bus gained momentum. The greenery all around, the road with its twists and turns and the mining done at the shore were a pleasant sight to see and of course the driver driving the bus as if it was a formula one car. Vroom Vroom!

Versova Bridge

But my bus journey was short lived as I heard a voice saying, “Bhaisaheb, apka stop, Fountain Hotel aa gaya.” I thanked my co-passenger and got off the bus.
I was 10 minutes early. I called Kiran to make sure that I had alighted at the right stop. To which he said “Yes” and told me that he was on his way and would be there shortly.
Kiran arrived at 8.20 am. Apparently his bike tyre was punctured. That didn’t dampen our plans and we set out to see Ghodbunder Fort.
The road to Ghodbunder Road is exactly opposite Fountain Hotel. A small dusty road takes you to the fort. So started our journey. Now there are signal posts near this junction but as usual they were not functioning. One has to be very careful when crossing the road. We managed to cross and took off on the narrow road.
The road was very narrow and we had a bumpy ride. To top it all, the road was a bit slippery on account of the fog, but we managed to reach the village safe and sound due to the expert driving skills of Kiran. Kudos to him.

Hotel Fountain

We stopped at a tea stall to have some hot tea on the cold day. Since the temperature was low, our tea quickly became cold. Kiran informed me that he had around 22 years of experience in travelling and that of late, he had begun to organise camps and treks for the general public. I was impressed with his years of experience. We soon finished our tea and headed out again. It took us around 35 minutes to reach the village next to the fort.
The road is near the creek where dredging is carried out on a high scale. I guess this is the major activity here. The village was packed with small hamlets. We passed through them via the thin tiny roads. Finally we got to see a glimpse of the fort.
At our first fort, Ghodbunder Fort, we immediately parked the bike and set out to explore the fort. The fort, not too big, is a result of construction from two eras, which have yielded the new and old walls. According to Kiran, the old walls were a product of the 15th century and the new walls a product of the 17th century. He added that the fort was conquered by the Portuguese in the 17th century. No idea who was the ruler prior to it.
We walked through the fort. Some of the walls had beautiful arches like the ones I had seen in Vasai. Some attempt was being made to restore the walls to their past glory.

Old and New ruins on the Fort

There is a cylindrical structure about a storey high from where the view is amazing. It gives a good view of the village below, the creek nearby with the mining work carried out there, the mangroves in the distance and civilisation in the form of buildings cropping up in the distance.
We felt sad to see this so-called development. Kiran and I agreed that if we had come here 10 years ago, there would have been only mangroves around. Today there were buildings here. Who knows what will happen in the future. This fort on which I am standing might get demolished and a skyscraper might be standing here.
We shot a couple of photos here. Kiran said that at one time, there might have been a cannon up here to guard the fort. He said this based on the circular duct on the floor.
As we got down from there we saw two rectangular nets put up on a small ground in the fort premises. They looked like the ones that are used for batting practices in cricket.

Kiran and Me

I noticed that there was no graffiti in the form of names or any other words on the walls of the fort. This is a good thing, but probably because it is not visited by people and is fairly unknown. When it comes to our ancient heritage, anonymity is a good thing.
We then headed back to the village on the outskirts of the fort. Here we spoke to an elderly man who told us that there was once an underground tunnel that connected this fort to Vasai Fort. That tunnel is now buried.
We then inquired with him about the Nagla Bunder Fort and he told us that it was near Gai Mukh on the Ghodbunder Road and that there was a church up there. With this piece of information we set out to see the fort.
Again we headed back to Fountain Hotel and took off on Ghodbunder Road on our way to Gai Mukh. On the bike I noticed sign boards warning the public about leopards. Kiran said that leopards usually cross from one side of the jungle to the other and are usually spotted at night.

Fort Premises

Finally we got a glimpse of the church on the hill on our left hand side. We then figured out the road to take us there. A dusty bylane leads us to the Church.
I guess two hillocks have been demolished thanks to mining. And I could see another two headed for destruction. If we let mining continue, soon we will not have any hillocks left and the animals will not have a home soon and will be seen staying and living along with us in our cities.
Just imagine, a lion or leopard walking on the road or chasing us humans like dogs chasing cats. Where are we headed, is the question we need to ask ourselves. In destroying the homes of these animals, we leave them no option but to move to the cities. That is why we hear of instances of wild animals attacking people. It is humans who make inroads into their world. We are to blame for it.
Finally after travelling along the dusty road we reached the church. We couldn’t see the walls of the forts so we headed off to see what we could spot from up there.

Church at Gai Mukh
The church is very small and is named “Our Lady of Hope.” There were devotees praying inside. We set off to find out if we could find any remains of the walls of the fort. Kiran deduced that there might have been a fort here, based on the way the ground appeared. But the church itself looked quite old.
We then sat there in the shade of the compound to have our snacks; Kiran had brought egg bhurji (scrambled egg) which I ate with enthusiasm. As we had our snack we discussed our future plans.
After relaxing there for some time we headed off the Ghodbunder Road. From there I boarded a BEST bus to take me to Borivali.
As I sat in the air conditioned bus, I recollected all the adventures we had. We had discovered Ghodbunder Fort and Nagla Bunder Fort. I bemoaned the mining and dredging activities which were destroying the mangroves and urbanising the area.
Finally my wish of visiting these forts got fulfilled. Stay glued to my blog for more on hidden treasures our world has to offer.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

good one. i recently shifted to Mira road. from my flat i have a view of the small Godhbunder fort / hill at the distance. even though it seems pretty near there is no direct way to go there since i need to go via fountain hotel. always was curious how to go to the fort.

wwww.chawla.aashish.blogspot.com said...

Again an informative blog, I had been there during this monsoon, the way to the fort was all covered with tall grass so didnt venture to go deeper for the fear of snakes ..thought will come again in winter and have a look.

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

Anonymous commentor pls add ur name :(

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

Thanks Aashish,

Hope to travel together to explore some more places

cheers
merwyn

Narendra Lakhan said...

Thank you for a great information.
with reference to this we visited these spot and the conditions of forts are really bad.
i just want one information.
Are Nagala and Gaimukh are same fort or both are different one ?
We are basically searching for Gaimukh Fort but we are not getting enough information .
Thanking of you .

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

Thanks Narendra Lakhan
You are right, there is not much info available on Gaimukh fort on the internet. Also when we asked peopel they were not aware of it. There is hillock mining happening around the ghodbunder road. So not sure if it even exists or if some building has replaced it.

Unknown said...

recently I visit this fort.....as I make short films we were looking for haunted place ....but this fort looks like haunted place though I do not want to shoot here for my film.....instead would like to make a documentary about this fort I am trying to gather as much as information as I can ......plz help to collect the information......its a beautiful fort I do not want to ruin this location by shooting a horror short film

Grandpas Treasure said...

Mira Road as well falls in Thane District and Ghodbunder Fort is at the most 4 to 5 kilometers from Mira Road Station (East),For people who are located in Mira Road and Bhayander there is another route to Ghodbunder Fort. Coming from Bhayander towards Highway by Mira-Bhayander Main Road, There is a left turn from Mira-Bhayander Main Road which goes straight to GCC Club, Where the GCC Club Road ends there are 2 turns, The Right turn road connect to the western express highway near Delhi Darbar Hotel, And after taking The Left Turn few meters away the road splits, Left side straight road goes directly to Ghodbunder Fort and right side straight road goes to Fountain Hotel. Well There are other shortcut bylanes also for Mira Road people to reach Ghodbunder Fort. And There is a "Dongri Fort" also located in Uttan, Bhayander West, which is completely in ruin condition.

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