Sunday, October 11, 2015

Forte De Bandora and the Sea Link

Sometimes, one ends up trekking and visiting  numerous forts across the state, without visiting one almost in your backyard.

Bandra Fort, or Castella de Aguada  (Portuguese for "Fort of the Waterpoint")  is situated at the waters edge  in Bandra, one of Mumbai's most popular western suburbs. The area is known as Land's End.

The Portuguese, who along with the French , Dutch and English once ruled over parts of India , built this Fort, overlooking the Mahim Bay in 1640; the purpose was to be a place from where a watch could be kept on sea traffic.  It was also a place which had a fresh water source for the Portuguese ships (Aguada = fountain).  During those days, Portuguese were occupying Goa, had their headquarters there, and it was called the Lisbon of the East.

This must have been the smallest Forts I have climbed, with a total elevation of  79 feet. Only. 

Clearly , the Portuguese  thought much about Goa and didn't think much of Bombay.  Read on. 

One of their Princesses, Catherine of Braganza, got married to King Charles II of England,  and the Portuguese gave away seven islets south of Bandra to the English, as, of all things , dowry.   The English, as was their habit regarding various Forts they thought the Marathas would attack ,  even later destroyed parts of this Fort.
  The remaining parts north of Bandra , remained with the Portuguese, till after various wars with Marathas, and the English, the English occupied them  in 1774.

Various causeways, railway viaducts were later built to link the south Mumbai islets and the rest of the land north,  and Bombay became a prominent headquarters of the then British Empire in India.  The English left in 1947.

Mahim and Bandra were connected by a causeway in 1854.  Much more than 150 years after that , the Bandra Worli Sea Link was constructed by the Government and thrown open to the public in March 2010.  No dowries, no wars, just too much traffic flowing to South Mumbai , and too few alternative routes, was the  reason.

There isn't much of a typical Fort ethos left at the Bandra Fort. It is now primarily a place where folks come to sit and enjoy some peace and privacy, given the lopsided people-land-dwelling ratio in Mumbai.

And then there are some like me who come to photograph  Mumbai from there.

My main interest was to photograph the Sea Link, something that was constructed in my lifetime; something I have traversed very few times since I stay very far away from it.  A civil engineering marvel , the first cable stayed bridge to be constructed in the open seas in India, it was constructed by the Hindustan Construction Company.  

This was an evening trip organized by Pixels, the IIT Bombay Photography club.

 Climbed  to the top, where I could click the sea placing my Canon on the parapet. Then thought the camera deserved a selfie.  So here is the  seaview as well as me in a Canon selfie clicked on my LG cell phone. 

 Bandra's specific coastline  at Lands End is more rocks than Sand, making for a lot of places to sit and relax at low tide.  This was me. 

Saturday evening is probably the wrong time to visit the Fort, as everyone probably has the same idea.  And Bandra is well connected, easily accessible with a variety of public transport, unlike far away Forts in mofussil areas.  You can see the top of the Sea Link in the centre of photo. 

 I was readying to click the Sea Link on my DSLR, when I thought I should click the DSLR selfie itself on my phone.   Magically , my pink jacket and top got reflected as well, and I thought I should clarify.  And no the skies did not change color suddenly in the viewfinder screen.

Folks enjoying the breeze on the Fort parapet.

 So many rocks,  the curved expanse at the north end of the Bay, and there are many who come to spend some quiet moments at the lower parts of the Fort and on the rocks.

 A view of the Sea Link from the West . The Sea Link allows traffic to bypass the heavily populated parts of Mumbai like Dadar and Mahim , since it connects Bandra to Worli , which is much closer to South Mumbai.  It is late evening and as you can see, the skies are changing.

Open topped BEST buses  taking tourists around Mumbai,  taking them across the Sea Link.  Mumbai's skyline has changed a lot , and you might think this is some fancy western city or HongKong.  Except, it is probably only in Mumbai, that you can stand leaning against the railing on top of a moving  open bus , with someone  else also wandering around.

 Silhouettes  on the rocks -  1

More silhouettes , and the setting Sun observing Mumbai folks trying to click him.

 The setting Sun, in its brilliant glory, before sinking into the waters...

 The evening look of the Sea Link.  You can see the Cable-stayed main spans. There are concrete-steel precast segment viaducts at either end.  The total length is 5.6 kms,  width is 66 feet , and height is 126 metres. The longest span is 2 x 250 metres. 

The Sea link specially lit up for the night. The Pink is especially so, in support of Breast Cancer, its early detection and treatment, as well as highlighting the fact that people need to be  educated  about it.     A photo of the Sea Link clicked from  moving vehicle on our way back. 

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