After spending my last weekend mountain biking in Germany, I wanted to get on my cycle and experience the rains in Mumbai. My original plan was to join a gang of cyclists who were heading to Lonad, and was planning to see the caves there. But I had to attend to something at home at 10 am, and so had to skip that event.
I planned something that I could finish within 5 hours, and so I looked up my list of forts and identified two forts on Ghodbunder Road. The round trip distance is about 63 km, and assuming I ride at my normal speed, I should get at least an hour and a half to explore the forts.
I started at 5 am from Andheri and reached Nagla Bunder at 6:45 am, turning right off Ghodbunder road just after Bhayanderpada towards Nagla Bunder. There are no signs or boards so I asked one old man sitting on the road if he knew where the fort was. He said that the fort is gone, but there is a church in it’s place.
There is a small path to the left of the Nagla Bunder road that leads up to these stairs. You have to climb the stairs to reach the top of the hill where the church now stands
The steps are not very steep, and I could easily take my cycle up the stairs without having to lift it
As you reach the top of the stairs, you can see the church, all washed clean with the rains
I parked the cycle on the platform surrounding the church and went in to explore
The church has this corridor running on three sides. It is a great place to sit and watch the countryside and the Ulhas river flowing below.
Just outside the main entrance to the church is a small garden with a dargah. Amazing to see all faiths converge at one place in harmony. In fact the caretakers of the fort are a Muslim couple.
The interior of the church is really nicely decorated. There are two huge mosaic murals on the two side walls, and the arched roof of the altar is also decorated with a mosaic mural
The mosaic murals are very well made, with small pieces of mosaic of different colors put together carefully to make a detailed picture. Amazing art work!
This dirt track road leads all the way down to Nagla Bunder at the coast of Ulhas river. It’s short, but perfect for a downhill ride by cycle!
At Nagla Bunder local fishermen moor their boats. There is very little fishing activity in the monsoon. But there were a few boats still floating around in the water too.
There is a small dirt road along the coast that joins the main Nagla Bunder road. I found this cute house along the road, which looks like an ideal place to spend a day next to the river.
On the left of the main Nagla Bunder road there is a small dirt track road that leads to the quarries. This is the where the Nagla Bunder fort’s remains lie
Rampant quarrying has destroyed the hills and has almost completely flattened the hill on which Nagla Bunder fort stands.
The quarrying has now reached the walls of the fort, and if it is not halted, whatever remains of the fort will soon be destroyed
Some of the ruins still stand at the fort. It is still not too late to do some restoration work and preserve the place. The place is completely overrun by vegetation, thanks to the monsoon and lack of care
The ruins contain a few walls with arched doorways. There are other structures too, but they are completely covered by thick vegetation and impenetrable.
The fort was built originally by the Portuguese and is one of the several forts that line the Ulhas river. The Marathas took over the fort in 1737 during campaign of Vasai fort. References say that 250 Portuguese were killed and 7 ships were captured by Marathas. It was during this campaign the forts of Nagla Bunder, Ghodbunder and Dharavi were captured
And now the fort is languishing unattended and uncared for, being destroyed by the profit seeking construction industry with no heed to historical sites like this. This fort is not even recognized by the Archeological Society of India
I was glad I could at least see what was left of the fort, and it was really depressing to see the quarrying all around. I left on that sad note, and headed back to Mumbai determined to see if I could find some way to get something done about this dismal state of affairs.
At a short distance away from Gaimukh Fort and Nagla Bunder fort, on the opposite side of Ghodbunder road, there is a Shiva temple that is built out of white marble. I stopped by for a short while to pay my respects before heading back to Mumbai.
As I headed back via Western Express Highway, I came across a vendor with small piles of colorful stones for sale.
He claims to bring them from Rajasthan, and the shapes, grains and patterns of the stones are original, but some of them are dyed to give them a specific color
I was back home by 9:45 am just as per plan. The ride was not at all tiring – just about 63 km – and perfect for my first monsoon ride.
Here is the route map for your reference:
If anyone who reads this has any contact in the Archeological Society of India, please do share the contacts with me in the comments or send me a personal mail at bijoor at gmail. I would surely like to try and do something to get the fort protected from further damage.