Harbour, docks & lighthouses: Re-discovering Mumbai

It is only 9.30 am, but the sun is quite intense and if not for the sea breeze would have been quite unbearable. I am on the upper deck of a launch berthed at the Gateway of India in Mumbai trying to peer through a haze that has dulled the shimmer and sparkle of  sunlight on water. In front of me, and as far as the haze-driven visibility allows, are ferries, fishing boats, luxury yachts, launches, security vessels… The sea looks like one big parking lot. 🙂

Mumbai Port and Harbour Tour, KGAF, Mumbai Harbour
The parking lot in the sea.

On board the launch, my co-passengers indulge in some gentle jostling for prime spots to photograph, discuss whether the haze would play spoil sport for photography, and generally chat about what is it that we are likely to see in the next couple of hours. As we wait for the launch to leave the jetty, anticipation for the upcoming trip grows. An anticipation for the first of its kind tour of Mumbai’s Port and Harbour organised by the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2014, in association with the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT).

Mumbai Port and Harbour Tour, KGAF, Gateway of India, Taj Intercontinental, Taj Palace Hotel

Our tour guide is Dilip Vishwanathan from the MbPT and his narrative takes us through the pre-maritime history of Mumbai, its natural harbour, the seven original islands of Mumbai, the coming of the Portuguese, then the English and the East India Company, construction of the docks, and present day Mumbai Port and Harbour. Mumbai’s natural harbour and port was known to seafarers and traders from as early as eighth century BC or even before. Though it wouldn’t have looked like the view in the photo above to them !

Though I am familiar with some part of the history, it is always nice to hear it from someone else’s perspective. As the tour guide outlines the route for the trip, I am excited to find that we will be passing through areas that are out-of-bounds to the public.

Join me aboard the launch for this tour. I must confess that it is going to be a long one that will take you Mumbai’s maritime history and my own memories.

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Bandra Fort: An unexpected mid-week treat

Last Thursday, I had a mid-week holiday and that upset me very much. I am probably in a minority when I say that I hate mid-week holidays, but give me a long weekend, and I’m probably the happiest person on earth. But I digress from the theme of my blog post…

Shalini, a ‘teenagehood’ friend, had been saying for a long time that work and home routines were turning us into crabby old women, and something had to be done. So this mid-week holiday presented us with the perfect opportunity to do that ‘something’.

The outcome—a visit to the Bandra Fort.

The Bandra Fort or, to use its more impressive sounding official name, the Castella de Aguada was built by the Portuguese in 1640. It later passed on to the British, who lost it to the Marathas in 1739, and gained it back from them in 1761. You can read more about the Bandra Fort’s history here.

Continue reading “Bandra Fort: An unexpected mid-week treat”