Bassein Fort: The Urban Fort of Maharashtra (2021)
About Bassein Fort:
The Bassein Fort, also known as the Vasai Fort – because it is in Vasai – is one of the few forts that are a day trip away from a metro like Mumbai. The Bassein Fort is famous among people who are busy and have only a Sunday to spare. It is also becoming one of the many places for amateur photographers to try out their skills with nature and portrait photography. The vicinity of the Bassein Fort makes it an integral part of fort tourism in Maharashtra. It is one of the few forts that urban youngsters can visit almost immediately. Planning for a visit to Bassein fort, read this article to know what to expect.
Historical Importance of Bassein Fort
The Bassein place has existed since the sixth century. Later, it was under the rule of the Chalukya Dynasty, and later, the Sihara Dynasty of Konkan ruled it. In the 1500s, the Gujarat Sultanate captured the fort. In 1534, after the treaty of Bassein, the Portuguese got control of the Bassein fort and later became an important port during the British rule. Bassein fort was one of the several that were integral to the First Anglo Maratha War.
Structures of Bassein Fort
The Bassein Fort is one of the few that do not have a trek and therefore a simple visit for anyone and everyone. The fort is also one of the few structures in Maharashtra that give a glimpse of the Portuguese era because of its architecture and ruins inside the fort. Inside the fort, you will see ruins of Portuguese churches, buildings, towers, and monasteries. You can see the remnants of watchtowers, aqueducts, and a graveyard as well. The fort has had several owners, so you will see the remnants and symbols of several dynasties, right from the Satavahanas, the Yadavas, the Rashtrakutas to Gujarat’s Sultans.
On the walls and in the structures, you will see proof of ancient Portuguese architecture in the form of inscriptions and carvings. The Bassein Fort has two access doors. The fort has a total of 10 bastions.
The ruins are the convent of the Dominicans, the Augustinian church and convent, the Camara palace, and the ruins of a Jesuit church and convent. Inside, you can also see the Cathedral of Our Lady of Life. At the center of the fort is the Citadel of Sao Sebastiao.
The fort and the churches are a reminder of Roman architecture. Many tourists say that once inside, you get a certain Goan vibe.
The Bassein Fort is not very well maintained and because it is near to the city, you will see many people flocking to the fort. You get an excellent view of the sea from the top of the fort. You will also see an old Baobab tree, apparently brought by the Portuguese, and planted here. This tree is outside the ‘Sea Gate’. The Bassein Fort also has the Jesuit Church and Monastery, the church associated with Saint Gonsalo Garcia. He was the first Indian to attain sainthood.
Apart from a historical place, the Bassein Fort has become part of contemporary culture. You will see that some films have used the location of the fort. Also, with wedding photography becoming popular, you will see many amateurs and professional photographers using the ruins of the forts as background and props for wedding photography albums.
Places Near Bassein Fort
Vasai is a hop away from Mumbai. If you are planning for a weekend, you can always visit Mumbai – which is an hour’s train journey from Vasai. If you spend your weekend in Vasai itself, there are some places that you can visit. Here is a brief list:
The temple that requires a sort of a trek, this is a Lord Shiva temple and the oldest one in Tungareshwar. There is also a waterfall nearby.
Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit place in Vasai. The sanctuary is home to several exotic and local birds, animals like rabbits, foxes, and monkeys. In some cases, you will also find snakes. The sanctuary is unique, as it is covered under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli, Mumbai.
The best time to visit this Sanctuary is the monsoon season. The entire sanctuary has several places where natural waterfalls occur during the monsoon season. There is no commercial activity inside the sanctuary, so you will need to carry snacks and water as needed.
Mumbai has some salt pans in its vicinity. Mira Road, a station on the outskirts of Mumbai has one of its entire sides as a large salt pan. In Vasai, there’s Umela Phata, where you can see the ground rich in salts and minerals.
Bhajan Lal Dairy Farm
One of the famous places for those who love dairy products, Bhajanlal Dairy Farm is a must-visit for anyone in Vasai. You can have a variety of lassis, milkshakes, and other dairy products at the Dairy Farm.
Can you believe that is there one more island so near Mumbai? Well, the island’s Panju Island and is a Koli resident area, the oldest residents of Mumbai. You can spend some time in this fishing village to experience the life of fishermen.
Beaches of Vasai
Vasai has three beaches, Bhuigaon Beach, Rangaon Beach, and Suruchi Beach. These beaches are clean and good for a family outing. The Bhuigaon beach has commercial activity. Rangaon Beach is near a fishing village, so you can experience life in a fishing village.
How to Reach Bassein Fort?
Vasai is on the outskirts of Mumbai and according to the Railways of Mumbai, it is one of the last train stations. So, the simplest way to reach Bassein fort is to first reach Vasai station and then take an auto-rickshaw or a bus to the Bassein fort. You can also take a bus to the Vasai fort.