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Vasai Fort

Friday, September 16, 2011

My trip to Vasai fort was very fun filled; I went to Andheri station to get myself a ticket to Vasai Road railway station. As I was standing in the queue to buy a ticket, a man in the next queue told me to stand aside. He warned, “There is a car with no brakes coming your way.”

WHAT? was my first reaction. I turned towards the direction he indicated to see an obese man rushing to buy a ticket. Clearly he planned to board the train that was already on the platform. Luckily, I was able to swerve aside and let him pass. The slightest delay on my part would have caused him to miss his train and me to become collateral damage.

Trawlers in the Sea
After buying the ticket, I headed for the platform where I was supposed to meet Garcia, my colleague who was out on her first trekking experience. We had already planned to meet on the platform on which the fast trains to Vasai Road arrive. But that was not to be. Garcia turned out to be notoriously bad at following simple directions. Eventually, I had to tell her to board the train and meet me at Vasai Road station.

At Vasai Road, I met her and Porus, and then we called Piyush. Piyush is a friend who lives in Vasai. He was to be our guide for the day. 

We headed for the State Transport bus depot to board the bus which would take us to “Killebandar,” meaning fort in English.

We had to wait for the bus for 20 minutes and we used the opportunity to chat and catch up on what we had been doing in the recent past.  

When the bus arrived, it presented a strange sight. There was no door for the driver. Later, we saw another passenger standing behind the driver in the cabin. Truly, it happens only in India. The man’s dressing style provided some more amusement. He was wearing a bright pink shirt on a white pant. The ensemble was completed with brown shoes. It was when we were gaping at his brown shoes that we caught sight of the base of the cabin. It was wide open and we could see the engine of the bus and the road beneath.

The bus was filled with fisherfolk who were so loud that they seemed to be fighting and abusing one another. The bus conductor, guessing rightly that we were new to the place, informed us that was their style of communicating. 
The way the driver drove the bus clearly showed that he harboured dreams of quitting his day job and taking up Formula One someday. His driving skills were seriously questionable. We were particularly grateful when we reached our destination in one piece.

The roads reminded me of the roads in Goa. They were very narrow and there were houses on both sides. Many of the homes had small Crosses outside.  

An ATM machine in a local cooperative bank had two pedestal fans on either side. It presented a strange sight. But there were other unusual things we saw there. As we moved out of the township, we saw some women drawing water from a square well.

The church, located a few minutes away from the township, reminded me of the tall and beautiful churches in Old Goa. In fact, the entire place reminded me of Goa. After all Vasai Fort was constructed by the Portuguese in the 15th century and most of the locals here are East Indians.

The doors of the church were massive and the roof was very high. Next door to the church there was a huge funnel shaped tower and right next to it there were rooms around a storey tall with beautiful carvings on the pillars and arches. These are some of the best ruins I have seen till date. Everything about this place was beautiful, I am trying to imagine how they must have built this place. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. But pictures alone could not do justice to the beauty of the architecture. I am uploading a video clip of what I saw, so that you can get an idea about what I am talking about. The palm trees growing next to these ruins gave them a very Arabic look.

There are many broken down structures around the church. These structures are in a bad state. The vegetation around made it difficult for us to approach closer, so we just saw them from a distance and moved on.

We reached another church with a huge dome. Once upon a time the priest might have stood there to preach. The walls of this church are still standing but the roof has gone to a higher place. Sorry, couldn’t resist making that joke. A lot of bodies were buried here in the past as there are gravestones with inscriptions everywhere.

We walked a little and then went to see another ruined church in the premises. This one was smaller in size, compared to the others we had just seen.

We later went to see another church nearby. This one had high walls. There was a tower, with a spiral staircase, at the rear end of the church. The climb was worth it. It enabled us to trawlers in the sea.
Entrance via the Sea to Vasai Fort

Finally we reached the main entrance to the fort. It had two wooden doors through which one could enter the fort. The inside door was held by a bamboo beam. Had it fallen, the doors would have smashed the floor. The main door was held by three bamboo beams posted between the doors right on top at the entrance. The wooden doors were encrusted with iron knobs on the door.

The walls of the fort are in very good condition. It was nice to observe that these walls had survived five centuries. At this end of the fort, there were many broken-down ships, trawlers and anchors which were ageing peacefully.

Tablets in the Fort premises
On our way out we saw another ruined church-like structure. Only the walls were still standing. Some of the walls had arches to house the doors, but the doors themselves were not in sight. The walls were very tall and we saw a man, standing on a really tall ladder, cleaning the walls of the fort. Piyush and I wondered how the ladder was standing, On going over to the other side, we saw that it was attached to a rope which was tied to the pillar. What an idea, sirji!

There were a few carved tablets in this church. Two of them had carvings of dogs’ images, while two others contained some inscription, possibly in Portuguese. One of the tablets was emblazoned with a crest.

Statue of Chimaji Appa
All I saw in this fort were churches and more churches. The Portuguese must have been a very religious people. Surprisingly, I could not locate a single house or cannon on the fort.

Finally the last pit stop on our journey was the memorial of Chimaji Appa, a Maratha warrior. After resting over there for some time we decided to leave.

One unique feature of this trip was that it involved no climbing. Instead, there was a lot of walking to be done.

To reach Vasai Fort, also known as Bassein Fort, one has to alight at Vasai Road station on the Churcgate - Virar railway route. You can board a state transport bus from the depot from no. 3 point. Alternatively you can go there by a shared auto rickshaw. These are the public modes of transport. You can also hire a private vehicle to go there.

The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1534 and was under their control till 1739. It was later captured by Chimaji Appa.


porus said...

The fort is huge with lots of churches, although not very well maintained.


I agree, lets take care of what remains of it, or else our furture generations might not get to visit these places in person, only photos to cherish

Unknown said...

i want to visit with some of my colleague. Can you help me in getting any contact person who can guide us for the trip and also give some historical briefing of the fort.

You can contact me on 9819502310

BudgetYatri said...

Beautiful photos and nice compilation of information. The place looks amazing during Sunset.

fredtravels said...

With a glorying history to narrate, the Vasai Fort attracts many visitors throughout the year, especially during the Monsoon.

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