“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.
“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.
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. 😦
Read about other Forts of Mumbai…