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» Portuguese Bassein Fort Ruins at Vasai ...

Bassein Fort Excursion The ruins of sprawling Bassein Fort of the Portuguese Era lie close to the sea towards north Mumbai, spreading over several hundred acres. Even so the remnants of the Court of the North appear quite appealing as they emanate a certain old world charm. Replete with the remains of diverse buildings, there are yet many structures that have well-preserved facades.
Some of these edifices still retain the ancient masonry designs while others appear bare. The fort has three levels of roof-ceilings at different places and it is certainly fun to explore the loose ends. Adventure seekers will have a great time in the picturesque locales of the fort that is now surrounded by silence and foliage all around.

Location: Bassein Fort located along Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway is within reach from all parts of the city, being at a distance of 77 kms. Vasai, the suburb in north Mumbai where this sea-fort is situated, is the third-last railway stop on the western track towards Virar. Falling in Thane District on the mainland just north to the Bombay archipelago, Vasai is only 55 Kms from Mumbai central. A half hour drive from Vasai Station takes you to the Fort.

History: Built by Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, it was part of a series of chain-forts intended to guard the coast against enemies. The Bassein Fort however fell into many hands - Portuguese, Marathas and finally the British. Established by the Portuguese as the headquarters for their Indian operations in 1534 it became the centre of operations until 1739. In the 18th century, the fort was attacked by the Maratha army and fell in 1739 after a three year long campaign. In course of time Bassein became a flourishing shipbuilding centre.

Sightseeing: The immense fort opens the main gate to a small courtyard from where one can climb the ramparts to take a look around. You keep discovering numerous old structures lying in ruins as also some well preserved facades. The erect walls give an idea of the floor plans of these structures. You may come across decorated carved stones along with weathered stonework.

Strangely enough many of the arches in the Fort have weathered the years remarkably well. Three chapels are still recognizable with their facades typical of 17th century Portuguese churches. The southernmost of these has a well-preserved barrel vaulted ceiling. Several watchtowers still stand with safe staircases leading up to enjoy the views. The fort with its frontage to the harbor has ramparts with much overgrowth looking out to Vasai creek.

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Nearby Places of Interest: These include Nalasopara Village, Vajreshwari Temple, Akoli Hot Springs and Ganeshpuri. 10 kms to the northwest lies Nalasopara village, that was capital of the Konkan region from 1500 BC to 1300 AD and where Buddhist relics were discovered. An hour by bus from Bassein station takes you to Vajreshwari temple and Akoli hot springs. Nearby Ganeshpuri Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir and Bhimeshwar temple and other ashrams are easily accessible too. From the Bassein fort, you can take a ride by bus and go to the Vajreshwari temple and enjoy a dip in the Akoli Hot Springs.

Leisure Activities: Besides reminiscing the pre-colonial times as you admire the wonderful structures, visitors can observe how nature has taken over dilapidated parts of the fort. You actually enjoy seeing butterflies, birds, plants and reptiles. The Fort lies much as it did way back in the 19th century but now the foliage has quietly taken over the ruins.

This naturalist's delight is a unique habitat with trees like Baobab, Date Palm, Tamarind, and Mango along with plentiful shrubbery and creepers. The sea stretching endlessly on one side has the ruins of another fort clearly visible on the other. The tall fort walls provide an amazing view of the Bassein Creek, home to several species of birds like gulls, terns and waders.

To Reach From Mumbai: Board a train bound to Virar from Churchgate and get off at Vasai Road. The Vasai Road railway station is placed very close to the Fort. If you are coming from the central railway or harbor line then board the train from Dadar. At Vasai Road station board a cab or auto rickshaw to reach the Fort. The adjacent bus depot has buses going to Fort every half hour and you just have to board the Killabandar buses.

Best time to visit: The Fort is really to be enjoyed in all seasons. But harsh summers and monsoons may be avoided for obvious reasons. This ancient Portuguese fort stands almost hidden by brushwood and palm groves with only the walls and churches visible. November to March is a good time to enjoy Bassein Fort and its historic vicinities.

Hotels: Accommodation is available at the Hotels in Vasai as well as in Mumbai. If you are to enjoy Mumbai excursions you will need resting places to hang out in comparative ease. Many first rate hotels in Mumbai offer every convenience and facility for outstanding sojourns. Also the range of hotels caters to all kinds of budgets – luxury and economy.