A couple of years back, I happened to travel in a cab whose driver was very chatty and unusually boastful of his knowledge of the city. About 20 minutes into the journey, I had enough of his tales and asked him:
“Since you know so much about Mumbai, tell me how does one get to Sewri Fort. I want to visit it.”
“Sewri Fort? What Sewri Fort? There is no Fort at Sewri.”
“Of course, there is a fort there. I read a report about the Fort in the newspaper only last week.”
“Newspaper? Bah !” said the driver in a dismissive tone. “Don’t believe everything that they print. Listen to me, I’ve been there so many times that I know the area really well. I know Sewri Jetty, all the automobile service centres there, the Port Trust Offices, the dargah… everything. I can tell you confidently that I have never come across any Fort there.”
And that was the end of the conversation.
Last month, I visited Sewri Fort. Yes, there is a Fort, but after visiting it I could understand why the cab driver and many others like him are neither aware of its location or existence. Incidentally, it is located right next to the dargah that the driver mentioned. Just see the view outside the Fort in the photograph below. Is there any indication that there is a Fort anywhere in the vicinity?
“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.”
It is no secret that the British are very particular and serious about their heritage structures, which are graded according to their importance. During my year-long stay in London and travels in England, I lost count of the number of heritage structures I saw and visited. In fact, I even lived in one !
But even this did not prepare me for seeing a kennel which has been accorded a heritage. Reportedly the only Grade 1 heritage structure of a kennel in the world, it used to house a St. Bernard, named Dido ! The kennel is taller than me (I’m 5’4″) and looked quite roomy, though I did not test it out. 🙂
The heritage kennel is on the grounds of Ightam Mote, another heritage structure, dating back to about 700 years, in the Kent region of England.