Ghodbunder Fort, Thane, Maharashtra

Ghodbunder Fort was once one of the strategic points between the Bassein (Vasai) fort and Bandra fort. It is located in Ghodbunder Village in Thane, on the hill just south of the Ulhas River. The Portuguese loved building forts, especially on the western coast of India from Diu down to Fort Kochi in Kerala, encompassing small areas of full control between the likes of Daman, Vasai, Ghodbunder, Bandra, and the old islands of Bombay. This line of fortification was intended for control over their primary trade routes. The Portuguese dominions were never extensive, constantly at war with bigger empires that surrounded their little areas of control. Ghodbunder was no exception and it has had a history of being in zones of conflict, changing control between Portuguese, Maratha, and the British. The place came to be called Ghodbunder because the Portuguese used to trade for “ghode” or horses with the Arabs here. The name “Ghodbunder” essentially stands for “ghode” (horses) & “bunder” (port). The construction of the fort probably dates to the 1530-1550s but the fort was completed in its current form in 1730. The Portuguese name for the fort was Cacabe de Tanna and was under their command until 1737. The Portuguese built a church in the fort that still stands, although it is now used as a hotel. The old church can be seen clearly in the background of the courtyard. In fact, two angels engraved on the inside wall of the church still remain. The Portuguese were able to successfully defend Ghodbunder fort for many years, including the attack in 1672 by the forces of Chhatrapati Shivaji. However, the Marathas, under the command of Chimaji Appa successfully besieged the fort and took it over from the Portuguese in 1737. Following its capture, Chhatrapati Sambhaji ordered the strengthening of the fortifications, initiating the construction of the tower. In 1818, however, the British occupied the fort and made it the headquarters of the district administration for the East India Company along with a district collector stationed in Thane. Today the fort lies in ruins, although there has been some restoration work started by the Government to preserve it. The fort itself is under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).


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