Sunday, November 1, 2015

Old Jettys and Prohibited Forts.....


This was a cycling trip to see Sewri Fort and Sewri Jetty .

The British, after receiving Bombay as dowry in the wedding of King Charles II, suddenly realized its utility as an excellent harbor, compared to Surat, which was then their HQ, and decided to shift to Bombay/Mumbai.

Sewri Fort was one of the Forts built by them , in the island of Parel (as it then was) overlooking the eastern seaboard of Mumbai.   The British were always fighting the Mughals, and this was made more difficult by the Siddis of African Descent who aligned themselves with the Mughals, and kept attacking Mumbai.

This Fort was built in 1680 , as a defence fortification along with the Mazgaon Fort. A total of almost 7 forts were built by the British across Bombay.  This fort was attacked by the Siddis  over time, and was even captured by them in 1689  along with Mahim.  Over time, the regional powers lost power, and the Fort was ultimately used by the British to house prisoners.

I had never seen the eastern seaboard of Mumbai, and had heard about the flamingoes that migrate there in December and January each year. This was too early for Flamingoes, but  I decided to cycle to Dadar and meet up with a friend who  was also a cycle enthusiast and lived around there. We met up at Dadar TT under the flyover, and then she and I proceeded to the Sewri Fort via Wadala and under the Eastern Freeway. .

The Sewri Coastline has swamps and mangroves, which are a place of choice for flamingos to lay eggs, but the coastline is also a place for small boats , fishing trawlers, boats undergoing maintenance and  what looks like ruined boats. A large portion of the Sewri  Jetty is under the administration of the Bombay Port Trust. Its distinct ecosystem comprises mangrove swamps, mudflats and creeks that make it a protected area.

Sewri Fort,  is actually managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.  It has been extensively repaired , and doesn't actually look like any other normal Fort.  Unlike other historical  Forts  it has no embellishments reflecting the  building customs or art of the times it was built in.  Just a very practical defence oriented no-nonsense construction. Landlocked on 3 sides and at an elevation of 197 feet .

At the entrance to the Fort, we were greeted by a sign saying "No Entry". 

On seeing two of us, females , an elderly gentleman came up to us, and told us that entry for females was prohibited, though males ventured at their own risk.   We did not see any visitors.  When we enquired about why the ban of entry for women, we were told there were safety issues, there had been untoward incidents , and therefore the women's entry was banned.

It is a sign of the times that we live in, that a Fort that was built for protecting , is now being used for unlawful and dangerous activities by miscreants. 

We cycled along the coast, checking out the Jetty area,  taking in the view in the early morning, and returned to Dadar for an excellent breakfast , before I cycled back  approximately 22 kms along the Eastern Express Highway.

This ride was a  total  distance of around 45 kilometres.

Early morning around 7.30 ish and we ride along the coast.

The sea, the swamp, the lumbering boats and the Sun emerging  in the haze.

Boats, rested and probably organizing for their daily outing.

Close Up of one such Boat, nicely anchored , next to another boat called Umiya.

Looks like low tide  and I click my bike in honor of a troublefree ride. So far.

The Sun, like so many who commute , out on its daily round over Mumbai , and a boatman and some driftwood in the swamps ready for a new day...

Does he wait for someone ?  Can he smell the boat ?  Old faithful in the Sun..

You can tell , morning has broken, and the sky is blue again.  The jetty, potholed in true Mumbai style, and my bike, posing in the Sun.

The Sewri Fort must wait. I hope the situation improves and maybe one day I will get to visit the place.

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