Thursday, 13 May 2010

Forts of Konkan 7: Kille Vasai किल्ले वसई

Location: Vasai, Dist. Thane

What to see: Statue of Narveer Chimajiappa, view of Vasai creek and Bhayandar town in the southern creekside entrance of the fort, remnants of old Saint Joseph Church which was converted from a Masjid to a church, saint Anthony church near Sebastian Wall, Saint Paul's Church, Church of Nosa Senora da Vida in citadel, Domican Church and convent which was a hospital, two Hanuman temples, one Vajreshwari temple, one Shiva temple.


The area of Vasai was under Hindu kingdom of Sheshvanshi Kshatriyas in 1300's when he had erected one small fortress near Dandale lake. Some fortification was done at the present site was done Islamic rules of Gujarat sultanate from 1400's to 1500's but all the present structures have been constructed during Portuguese rule which started during 1500's. First they started building fortified warehouses which later on were supported by military protection. Present day structures were completed in 1590. Portuguese had planned for gaining conrol over the entire North Konkan and coastal Gujarat stretching from Chaul to Diu and make Vasai their capital due to which they had strengthened Vasai fort very well. The plan could not materialise as Maratha forces led by Chimajiappa, brother of second Peshwa Bajirao I, attacked Vasai fort and gave an end to the Portuguese rule in the Northern Konkan by winning Vasai region. They had to fight a very tough war and lost almost 100,000 soldiers but after winning this battle on 4 May 1739 they could drive the Portuguese out from the entire region and freed the people from their cruel inquisition which the region of Goa suffered for next 225 years. When Maratha forces were losing their hopes of winning, Chimajiappa is said to have said to kill him by cannon and make his head fall down in the fort. Afterwards Maratha forces felt aggravated and then won the fort. All the Hindu temples were built during Peshwa rule. Peshwa rule was did not destryoy any of Christian remnants although they had won the fort from Portuguese to end their cruel rule which enforced inquisition and forced conversion in the area. It came under British rule in 1780 with a treaty between British and Marathas. British ran a sugar factory in the fort which was not very much profitable. It was converted to an orphanage later. Many artefacts from the fort were transferred from fort to the churches in the nearby villages. The farmland in the eastern end of the fort was later developed after independence under Kharland Board. It was earlier under creek wetlands and mangrove forests and actually a major defence of the fort.

The fort has a decagonal shape and has a circumference of 2 km. We enter the fort by tar road which is made by destroying some of the portion of fort wall. The real entrance of the fort is actually to the right of the present entry. This entrance has a doble walled structure and it was very tough to get the entry by force in historical times. Second entry is from the eastern side of the fort from Mandvi port. The fort is in decaying condition due to lack attention from the governments ruling in the region from the post portuguese period which include Marathas, British and also our own Indian government. The fort is in urgent state of repairs and protection.

Nearby attractions:
Stroll through older Vasai town which has mixed Hindu and Chritian culture, Taste local dishes Bhujing and Khaja. Buy Sukeli (preserved Bananas), white onions and vegetables which are all local produce.

How to reach:
With your own vehicles:
Mumbai- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai
Pune/ Goa- Thane- Ghodbundar- Sativali phata- Vasai

With Public transport:
From Mumbai- Reach Vasai Road station by suburban local trains, Take Churchgate -Vasai Road takes 1.10 hours and there are trains for Vasai Road from Churchgate/ Dadar station every 20 minutes. On western side of the station shared or private autorikshaws and ST buses are available to reach Vasai town and fort.
Direct ST buses are available for Vasai from Thane, Kalyan, Pune and Nashik.
Vasai Road is an important station on Western Railways and many trains connecting Gujarat to Mumbai, Pune, Konkan and South India have a halt at Vasai Road.

Places for stay: