I woke up at 4.30 AM on Sunday morning.
Ain’t that amazing? When you are enthusiastic about doing something, you get up early voluntarily and happily at 4 O clock on Sunday...this new mix of cycling and Bombay discovery is real fun.
Today was the day I was tackling my third fort of Mumbai – Worli fort. I have lived here all my life and I didn’t even know that there were so many forts in Mumbai until I started this project. It has been a real eye opener for me, and I am loving it.
The fort in Worli was built by the British in 1675 – just about the time that Shivaji had crowned himself King of the Maratha empire, and the British knew that they needed a strong fortified base for themselves. Shivaji was concentrating on the konkan coast and was looking at the Siddis of Janjira and the Portuguese of Goa and Diu as the main enemy. He had built sea forts such as Sindhudurg and Suvarnadurg, and was just getting started on raising a strong navy. The Bombay islands were an irrelevant pointless spit of land at the time and no one thought it worth their while to contest them; and the British East India company took full advantage of this.
As you can see in the map below, they ringed the Mahim bay with forts at Worli, Mahim, Dharavi and Sion - the Bandra fort was Portuguese at the time – and made it a really tough nut to crack.
Anyway – back to my ride – I had made a trip to Decathlon and picked up some essential supplies - the most important of which was a pair of cycling shorts with built in padding. It makes a great difference to your cycling comfort when your ass is not on fire.
Early morning cycling was a pleasure as always, and after I reached Worli, I had to ask a lot of locals for directions to the fort. They directed me deep into Worli village, and I was impressed at how big the village was. It was like stepping into a new city all together. And soon – there it was – the fort!
What a cute little fort. Unlike most forts which are circular or squarish, this one was like some complex star shape.
There was a path going around it and I went off to explore that, and found that it led to the sea shore which was the mooring area of the fishing boats. I had an excellent view of the sea link from there, and couldn’t help but be amused at seeing such a modern structure next to such an ancient one. For, while this fort is a baby compared to the ancient hill forts of the Sahyadris, it is more than 350 years old.
A lot of the villagers looked at me curiously, but were very friendly when I spoke to them in Marathi. They were very proud of their fort, and were sure that Shivaji Maharaj had built it. Why spoil his day by telling him that Shivaji had no part to play in this fort? They also told me that there used to be a secret undersea passage from this fort to Mahim fort, but it was lost now.
The fort itself was very well maintained – like Sewri fort – so that was a very pleasant thing to see. The ASI and associated bodies have done a sterling job in renovating the place. I wish that they would have put up some historical information boards which would have informed people about the history and importance of the place.
I can’t believe that this place is so unknown – when I tried to check in on Facebook, the location wasn’t even registered... I had to create the listing. I suppose the location is the issue, as it is hidden away deep inside the village, and the narrow roads don’t allow vehicles to come up here.
There was a gym inside the fort and the gym pehelwans ensured that no one came and pissed or spat paan inside the fort. The villager told me that they imposed a spot fine on anyone who did that. They also had a nice little rock garden and a Maruti statue to bless the exercisers.
The view from the fort was amazing! If you face the sea then you get a brilliant view of Mahim bay and the Bandra Worli sea link, and if you face the land you get a fantastic view of the Bombay skyline.
It is so fantastic to have such historical riches in Mumbai – I do wish that we would cherish them more and maintain them lovingly.
I would have loved to have hung around there longer, but it was time to get back home.
Looking forward to the next fort on the next Sunday....wonder which one I shoud go to?
As always, do check out this blog by Ashutosh Bijoor on his ride to Worli fort.
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!