Top 10 Historic Forts In And Around Mumbai
Bombay has transformed to Mumbai, and old settlements have been replaced by skyscrapers. But the city’s old forts have stood the test of time and change, and still have an intriguing story to tell about the rich cultural past of the city.
Peek Into History
Portuguese, Marathas and the British — for all those who ruled Mumbai, these forts provided a panoramic view of the city, so that they could see the enemies marching towards them from afar. While they were important for military strategy back then, now they are popular tourist spots. Check out the best forts near Mumbai and learn more about the stories they tell.
1. Castella De Aguada
Built in the 17th century by the Portuguese, it is believed that the original name was Forte De Bandora, which means Bandra Fort when translated into English. The word ‘Aguada’ refers to the availability of fresh water in the region. It was an important landmark for the Portuguese ships coming to India.
It was strategically located so that Mahim Bay, Arabian Sea, and Worli area could all be seen from there. The fort was restored in 2003 and a beautiful amphitheater was also built there. Currently, it is managed by the Taj Land’s End Hotel.
Where: Bandra West
2. Sewri Fort
Sewri Fort served as a watchtower during the 15th century when the Portuguese were in Mumbai. It was designed in such a way that its small inner entrances are perpendicular to the main entrance, so it is easier to attack the enemies approaching from the other side. Inside the fort, there is a pentagonal room along with a long corridor.
The fort is situated atop a cliff giving the benefit of height to get a panoramic view of the Mumbai harbor. Last week, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation announced its plan to illuminate the fort with LED lights to attract more tourists.
Where: MPT, Sewri
3. Karnala Fort
A trek to Karnala Fort is not very tough for even beginners, and the fort is covered in lush greenery. It is located only 47 kms away from the main Mumbai city, so it is a popular monsoon weekend getaway.
It is located inside Karnala Bird Sanctuary which attracts birding enthusiasts all around the year. The fort, which is belived to have been built before the 13th century, now lies in ruins; but Karnala still remains a popular trekking destination for the locals.
Where: Karnala, Raigad
4. Kolaba Fort
Hardly anyone in Mumbai knows Kolaba Fort by its actual name. It is located only at a distance of around two kilometres from the Alibaug beach, so it is better known as Alibaug Fort.
During the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1600’s, it was one of the chief naval stations for the Maratha empire. Kolaba Fort is surrounded by sea, but inside its premises, there are several freshwater wells. Inside, you can find a temple, a dargah as well as some rusted canons.
Where: B-20/7, RCF Colony, Divi Parangi, Alibag
5. Lohagad Fort
Hailed as an ‘Iron Fortress’, this is one of the many hill forts in Maharashtra that have now become tourist hotspots. Situated at an elevation of 1000 metres above sea level, this fort offers stunning views of Pawna and Karla lakes.
Lohagad Fort attracts maximum hikers during monsoon as it is covered in greenery on all sides. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to spot a few rare birds and insects on the way.
Where: Lohagad, Near Lonavala
6. Rajmachi Fort
An ideal destination for trekking, Rajmachi Fort is located between the twin fortresses of Shriwardhan Ballekilla and Manaranjan Balekilla in the Sahyadari Mountains. It stands at a height of over 2500 feet, so you can get a gorgeous view of the Bhorghot Pass on the opposite side.
On the way, there are lots of mini waterfalls, two temples and a lake which only add to the scenic beauty. Tourists usually prefer trekking to the fort from May to June, mostly at night, because you can spot fireflies glowing in the surroundings during this time.
Where: Rajmachi, near Udhawadi
7. Fort Bassein
When this fort was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, it was called Fort Bassein. Now, it is more popularly known by the name of ‘Vasai Fort’. Situated around 50 kilometers from the main Mumbai city, it is a popular picnic spot for couples and friends who are looking for a quick getaway near Mumbai.
It is surrounded by sea on three sides and offers a beautiful view of the seashore, but the fort itself is in ruins. It has featured in Bollywood movies like Josh, Khamoshi and Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag.
Where: Killa Road,Police Colony, Vasai West, Vasai
8. Worli Fort
Worli Fort is one of the most ancient forts in Mumbai, yet it rarely features on any tourist’s itinerary. The fort isn’t very well-maintained, but from its vantage point, you can see the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link and its surrounding skyscrapers.
It is surrounding by the Worli fishing village, which is home to the original residents of Mumbai, the Koli fishing community.
Where: Worli, Mumbai
9. Murud-Janjira Fort
Surrounded by water on all sides, Murud-Janjira Fort is often referred to as the island fort. This unique fort was built in the 17th century and till date is lauded for its brilliant architecture.
With high walls on all its sides, this fort has managed to withstand the pressure of the sea waves through ages.
10. Sion Fort
The Sion Fort sits in a dilapidated condition, but the BMC authorities promise to revive and restore it to develop it as a tourist destination in 2018.
When it was built by the East India Company in the 1600’s, the fort marked the boundary between the islands of Parel and Salsette. The latter was in the hands of the Portuguese, so the Sion Fort helped the British keep a track of the ongoing activities on the other side.
Where: East, Road No 1, Sion, Mumbai
Whether you are a history buff or an architecture student, there is a lot to learn from these ancient forts. Have you visited any of them before? Share with us your experiences in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Brendan Dias Photography, The Hindustan Times, Adventure365.in, Travelblog.org, MakeMyTrip, tripplatform.com, Tour My India, Trip Advisor, Adventure365.in