Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Old Fort of Bassein. Distant view of the Cathedral of St James--Photographer: Scott, Charles Medium: Photographic print Date: 1857
Photograph of Bassein Fort, with a distant view of the Cathedral of St. James, in Maharashtra, taken by Charles Scott in the late 1850s. Bassein is situated twenty-eight miles north of Mumbai and was a Portuguese colony for over two hundred years. The river which separated it from the mainland was a convenient route for shipping and made it easier to defend. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states, "during this time it rose to such prosperity that it came to be called the Court of the North, and its nobles were proverbial for their wealth and magnificence. With plentiful supplies of both timber and stone, Bassein was adorned with many noble buildings, including a cathedral, five convents, thirteen churches, and an asylum for orphans. The dwellings of the Hidalgos, or aristocracy, who alone were allowed to live within the city walls, are described (1675) as stately buildings, two storeys high, graced with covered balconies and large windows...Of Old Bassein, the walls and ramparts remain in a good state of preservation. Within the enclosure, the ruins of the cathedral, of the Dominican convent, of the Jesuit Church of St. Paul, and of St. Anthony's Church, built as early as 1537, can still be identified."