Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Bandra Portugese Fort of 1600 in BOMBAY

1534, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, who ruled over this area, ceded the coastal tract from Bombay to beyond Bassein, to the Portuguese. This included the island of Salsette, of which Bandra was part.


The Portuguese, who had established a base in the area in 1534 after defeating Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, built several sea forts along the western Indian coastline. Castella de Aguada was one such strategically located fort, overlooking the Mahim Bay to the south, the Arabian Sea to the west, the islands of Worli to the south and the town of Mahim to the south west. The fort also guarded the northern sea route into Mumbai Harbour This sea route, a large estuary, was later reclaimed from the sea in the nineteenth century. During the Portuguese rule, it was armed with seven cannons and other smaller guns as defence.[3] A freshwater spring in the vicinity supplied potable water to passing ships, thus lending the fort its name.[1]

After the decline of the Portuguese in the early 18th century, the Marathas became the largest threat to British possessions. Sensing an impending Portuguese defeat, the British partially demolished the fort as a precautionary measure. The demolition would obviate the possibility of the fort being captured by the Marathas, with the possibility of it being used as a forward military base to attack British Bombay.[4]

In 1739 the island was invaded by the Marathas; it was ruled by them until 1761 when the British gained possession of the area during theFirst Anglo-Maratha War. In 1830, the British donated large parts ofSalsette Island, including Land's End, to Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, aParsi philanthropist. Jeejeeboy then established his residence on the hill where the fort is located, and the cape was renamed Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Point.[5]

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