Bassein Fort also known as Vasai Fort is an important sea
fort located in Bassein, present day Vasai, at about 55-km from
Mumbai . Built by
Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, it was initially one of a chain of forts
intended to guard the coast against the Portuguese and the pirates.
Bassein, however, fell into many hands such as- the Portuguese, the Marathas and finally the British and in the course of time Bassein became a flourishing shipbuilding centre and the famous Bassein stone was very much in demand.
The Vasai fort is very large. The main gate leads to a
small courtyard; from here one can climb the ramparts to take a look
around, which reveals the numerous old structures of the fort now in
The Portuguese buildings inside the fort are in ruins, although there are enough standing walls to give a good idea of the floor plans of these structures. Some have well-preserved facades. In particular, many of the arches have weathered the years remarkably well. They are usually decorated with carved stones, some weathered beyond recognition, others still displaying sharp chisel marks.
Three chapels inside the fort are still recognisable. They have facades typical of 17th century Portuguese churches. The southernmost of these has a well-preserved barrel vaulted ceiling. Several watchtowers still stand, with safe staircases leading up.
Bassein was known as a place for ship building in the 15th
century. The Portuguese settled here because they were shrewd enough to
recognise the importance of Bassein as a strategic place on western coast.
They captured the fort from the Sultan of Gujarat and remodeled it by
building a citadel inside.
The fort was made the northern capital of the Portuguese. Later over a span of 200 years the Portuguese built for its aristocracy, a walled city overlooking the sea. This city housed a cathedral, 13 churches and 5 convents. Many of the buildings still stand, albeit without roofs.
In the 18th century the fort was attacked by the Maratha army under Baji Rao Peshwa, and fell in 1739 after a three year long campaign. But, it was the British who had the final possession of the fort.
The ruins of the Portuguese fort still stand almost hidden by brushwood and palm groves. Some of the walls and churches can still be seen. Almost on every wall of the fort, there are trees whose roots are damaging the structures, which are already in ruins. The Bassein fort needs immediate attention of the authorities, to retain the last remains of this historic place.
About 10-km to the northwest lies Nalasopara village, the
capital of the Konkan region from 1500 BC to 1300 AD. Many Buddhist relics
were discovered here. Nalasopara is believed to have been the birthplace
An hour by bus from Bassein station are the Vajreshwari temple and the Akoli hot springs. Also easily accessible is Ganeshpuri with the Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, the Bhimeshwar temple and other ashrams.
Vasai is located at a distance of 55-km from Mumbai. The fort can be reached easily by local train up to Bassein or Vasai Road station on the western railway, and then by auto-rickshaw, bus or taxi. By road, it is 77-km along the Mumbai -Ahmedabad highway.
Accommodation is available at the Hotels in Vasai as well as in Mumbai.