A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Trip to Fort Bassein

Posted by Pepper on April 15, 2016

Despite having grown up in Mumbai, there are still several places that I never had the opportunity to explore. I thought it was time we start savoring the true flavors of this city. Discovering new places is one of our favourite activities anyway, so it would be a joyous way to spend summer. I started by making a list of the places I wanted to visit. Most of them were just day trips. One such place was Fort Bassein.

We expected it to be an hour long drive. Our aim was to leave by 8 am, but as usual, we ended up starting much later. After a quick breakfast, we were off. I was excited. We were visiting a place that contained years of history. The actual Portuguese name of the place was ‘Fortaleza de São Sebastião de Baçaim’. Bacaim turned into Bassein which eventually turned into modern day Vasai. Who knew a random suburb of the city held such ancient stories?

These ruins were the headquarters of the Portuguese rule in the 16th and 17th centuries! Here are some very interesting excerpts from Wiki. “The Greek merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes is known to have visited the areas around Bassein in the 6th century, and the Chinese traveller Xuanzang later on June or July 640. According to Historian Joseph Gerson Da Cunha, during this time, Bassein and its surrounding areas appeared to have been ruled by the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka.

The coast of Bassein was first visited by the Portuguese in 1509, when Francisco de Almeida on his way to Diu captured a Muslim ship in the harbour of Bombay, with 24 citizens of Gujarat aboard. 

The Treaty of Bassein was signed by Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat and the Kingdom of Portugal on 23 December 1534 while on board the galleon São Mateus. Based on the terms of the agreement, the Portuguese Empire gained control of the city of Bassein, as well as its territories, islands, and seas. 

In the 18th century, the fort was taken over by the Maratha army under Peshwa Baji Rao’s brother Chimaji Appa, and fell in 1739 after a three-year-long campaign. The British shortly attacked and took over the territory from the Marathas as the price for supporting one faction of the Marathas against another.

I am extremely fascinated by historic monuments. So I was looking forward to the first glimpse of the place. It turned out to be pretty much how I expected it to be. Quite lovely! It wasn’t very crowded on that particular day, and we walked around making our way through overgrown shrubs. I was transported back to an era that held battles between the Portuguese, the Marathas and the British.

Here is a random mix of pictures. Some of these structures were the royal mansions, administrative centers  and other establishments of the Portuguese.





And some pics of us…





After our little tour, I was very excited about having lunch at the Mahila Mandal restaurant. This is a part of an NGO run by a local teacher, Mrs Indumathy Barve. Mrs Barve is 93 years old and still runs this establishment, employing 250 women. You can read about her here. The food served here is hygienic and absolutely delicious.

We ordered this thali and this plateful of awesomeness cost us only Rs. 55.


Each item was freshly prepared and packed with bags of local flavour. I couldn’t get enough of the fresh pickle. The thali was a no frills, home cooked local meal. Just the kind of food I appreciate! Of course, as per the law that governs my life, I had to drop some dal on my white dress. It made me very cranky, but thankfully I was able to get the stain off. It miraculously disappeared and I could rescue my dress. On the whole, it was a day well spent!

If you live around Mumbai and are interested in history and heritage, I recommend a trip to Fort Bassein. And while you are there, don’t miss the lunch at Shramik Mahila Mandal.

12 Responses to “Trip to Fort Bassein”

  1. Nice to read about fort Bassein. Pics are lovely. Looks like it was a nice warm day .

    Hats off to Mrs Barve. Running an organisation at 93 is no mean feat. Very inspiring to hear about her.

    Thaali meal looks nice. Simple and filling.

    Lovel pics of you!

  2. The ruins look so good! And I am kinda drooling at the thali.

    • Pepper said

      Thali was very drool worthy 🙂 But good for you, your parents are still around. Make some demands to them and have them cook this stuff for you 😀

  3. Nithya said

    I love history and exploring places like these! India has so many amazing places that I am yet to explore 🙂 Nice pics 🙂 The thali looks soo yummy!!

  4. parijatshukla2014 said

    I am so thrilled to read this post. I love places that encompass past in them , just sit there , touch the rocks which have been there for thousands of years, trying to listen to what they tell about the past. This feeling i cant describe in words.
    Few days just walking on random roads i “came across” a place called Mahakaali Caved containing monuments and caves from far past….Just loved spending couple of hours there. Would surely visit the place you suggested here 🙂

  5. orangewayfarer said

    Love this post. Often we ignore the simple pleasures of life scattered around us. Mumbai is so full of posts about Worli link and marine beach. Bassein treaty was taught in school in history books and thats about it. Got the chance to ‘witness that with your blog. Keep up the good work.

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