Fort Bassein is a ruined fort in Vasai. During the Indo-Portuguese period, the structure was formally named Fort of St. Sebastian. Few people are aware that the Fort is a national monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is a heritage structure with a rich history. The Maratha Empire took over the Fort in the 18th century, led by Peshwa Baji Rao’s brother, Chimaji Appa, whose statue still stands tall in one of the courtyards. It was here, in 1802 AD, that he signed the infamous Treaty of Bassein, which ended the Maratha Confederacy.
Although most of the Fort’s architecture is in ruins, there are several watchtowers that remain with safe staircases leading up. Buildings within the Fort have perished over time, leaving just a few standing walls. Some of these walls have beautifully preserved facades.
The arches, in particular, have withstood the test of time admirably. They are adorned with carved stones, some of which have weathered beyond recognition while others still bear chisel marks. Three chapels within the Fort are still visible. They have the typical facades of 17th-century churches. One of these has a barrel-vaulted ceiling that has been well preserved. Another thing to observe is the nature that has taken over much of the Fort. There are butterflies, birds, plants, and reptiles that have found their home here.
It is also a popular filming spot. Bollywood songs like Kambakkht Ishq from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya and Poster Lagwa Do from Luka Chuppi have been shot here. As you walk past the site, images from films such as Josh and Khamoshi flash through your mind. Coldplay, the British band, visited the Fort to shoot a song called Hymn for the Weekend, which was one of their major hits.
While the Fort does not receive visitors every day, many groups visit on weekends to explore the area. The location is also used for pre-wedding photoshoots. Many naturalists have developed a preference for the place to spend quiet time amid the flora and fauna. The moss-covered walls conceal not only tales of war and victory, but also exploitation. Many people pillaged the place in search of stones and other valuables. It was also weakened as a result of the numerous wars. The Chimaji Appa statue’s foundation has already weakened. Natural calamities like lightning and thunder have also made an impact on the structures. Further neglect will result in the loss of a historic. The local government must make efforts to preserve the monument.