The Mahim Fort

“And this is the view from the bedroom,” says Rama, throwing open the window and gesturing at me to look out. “It’s not the same as the view of the sea from the living room, but it’s lovely in the evenings, when the sun is setting and the whole place takes on a soft orange glow.”

Rama is a friend (and also a fellow travel blogger) who has just shifted to Mumbai from Delhi, and she is giving me a tour of her apartment on the 15th floor of a building in Bandra, and also the accompanying views from the various windows.

“Hmm…,” I reply, as I look at the view. The sun is a long way from setting and the light is quite harsh on the buildings, slums, the Mahim bay, and… then, something else. Something I had not expected to see. Was it what I thought it was?

“My camera ! I need my camera. Where’s my bag?” I rushed to the living room to retrieve my bag.

“Why? What happened?”, asked Rama in a slightly alarmed voice. “What is it?”

“Wait. I’ll show you,” I said as I switched on my camera and zoomed in to show her this.

Mahim Fort, Mahim Bay, Mumbai, 7 forts of Mumbai

“Rama,” I announced rather grandly, “meet Mahim Fort, one of the 8 existing forts of Mumbai.”

Yes, that wall you see in the picture is a section of what was once a rampart of the Mahim Fort. It is not clear when the Fort was built; some accounts put it to be sometime in the 13th century making it the oldest of all the forts in Mumbai.

When the Portuguese captured the Fort in 1519, it had already been standing for more than a century. The Mahim Fort was important for the defense of the region and acted as a watchtower and to give warning of impending attacks from the sea. When the Fort passed on to the English from the Portuguese in 1661, some repairs were carried out to strengthen it.

Mahim Fort, Mahim Bay, Mumbai, 7 forts of Mumbai. Mahim Fort, Mahim Bay, Mumbai, 7 forts of Mumbai

Today, as you can see from the pictures, the Fort lies in a state of ruin beyond description. Encroachment has happened to such an extent that houses have been built on the Fort’s  ramparts ! Certain portions of the Fort appear to have caved in and even from the distance I could see the garbage piled up outside the sea wall. And to think that Mahim Fort has been classified as a heritage structure !

As Rama and I looked at the Mahim Fort, first through the camera lens and then just gazed at it from across the bay, it was with a heavy heart and sorrow at the state it is in and at the state it has been allowed to become.

“Do you think we can go there?” Rama asked.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “I’ve heard that even the access path has been encroached upon and it may not be possible to go there. This view from your window may be the closest we can get to the Mahim Fort.”

Now that was a sobering thought, indeed. 😦

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Read about other Forts of Mumbai…

26 thoughts on “The Mahim Fort

  1. Brilliant post on Mahim, a region I passed through a couple of times and have never been there quite often. I would say that the lens speak a thousand words on the Mahim view and brilliant shot. It beautifully captures the soul of the city and hope better sense prevails on the authority to protect the Mahim Fort.

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  2. you know, Sudha… if you close your eyes, you can still imagine Mahim fort as it must have been… in its heyday…in the days before it was lost and forgotten amidst the growth of the city. it reminds me of a pic i saw of it… or maybe it was a reproduction of a painting…. which only makes this an even sadder story,. in which other city in the world can you have 8 forts still standing, yet in such a bad condition? it only encourages me to visit all the others and write about them in the hope that someday, someone might actually wake up to the immense potential of these heritage structures

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    1. I did that, Anu; I tried to imagine it in the time of Bhimdev. As you know, I have no problems with my imagination.:D

      But, unfortunately, no amount of imagination can hide the present day state of the Fort and many other heritage structures in Mumbai. As we were, discussing earlier today, Mumbai could easily have claimed the status of a heritage city, if only… 😦

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    1. Sad is the way many things happen in our country vis-a-vis heritage. It is shocking when encroachments get legalised in the name of human rights, when actually they are only seen as potential vote banks.

      Many signs of Mumbai’s history have already disappeared and it is only a matter of time before this fort and many others disappear. I give it another 10 years maximum. 😦

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  3. Sigh – I saw a few heritage homes and temples in Chennai that need to be preserved. This fort really needs some intervention. Any NGOs that can help maybe?

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    1. NGOs put human rights before anything else, and saving a chunk of history has no standing against providing shelter and housing to people, even if it is illegal.

      Why blame sklum dwellers only. The Belapur Fort in Navi Mumbai has been encroached by builders who are constructing fancy multistoried buildings and the authorities are looking the other way.

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    1. Sure, there is a definite way. But the residents look upon any visitor with a lot of suspicion. There have been reports of residents chasing away visitors or intimidating them. As for approach from the sea, it may be possible, but the area surrounding the base of the fort is littered with rubbish, so I doubt if anyone can actually land there.

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  4. Brilliant post and I think it was built by Raja Bhimdev. While it is impossible to get into the Fort itself, the closest I have been to is the seafront surrounding the fort. It’s visible but absolutely not worth it. Secondly, did you know that the mainland was joined with Bandra in 1772? It seems apparently, even until the early 17th century, the Britishers and Portuguese fought battles on the sea? Surprisingly, if you stand at Worli Fort, you can still spot the Mahim Fort and Bandra fort together separated by the sea.

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    1. Thanks, Akshay. Sighting the Mahim Fort was a lucky chance actually. 🙂

      I did know about Bandra being joined to the mainland in 1772, but did not know that both the Mahim and Bandra Forts could be seen from the Worli Fort. A trip to the Worli Fort is in order now.

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  5. Sometime in November last year, the Koli Food Festival was held around the Mahim Fort. The festival was inaugurated by Salman Khan and patronised by Bollywood celebrities. This festival was organised by the MNS.

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  6. Hey you have written a very unique blog. It is very different from the other blogs. I had a great time reading your story. I have been to Mahim a couple of times and I totally get what you are trying to convey. Sudha, You must keep sharing such blogs. Thank you 🙂

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    1. Welcome here, Indrajit. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Very happy that you liked the blog. I have just posted on the Sion Fort. perhaps, you’ll enjoy reading that as well. 🙂

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  7. GUYS..I had tried to go to Mahim fort recently.But now people are residing inside the fort and visitors are not allowed.Am not from Mumbai..so had some language problem.Will try it again.I likes to travel,visit forts etc.So I would like if i get some company.My roommates are like mall lovers and are not ready to walk.Kindly ignore if am going too much.

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