The main courtyard of Sewri fort.
On a lazy weekend morning after a sumptuous brunch we suddenly decided to go to Sewri Fort or Sewree Fort. Did it live up to our expectations or not, read on.
The Sewri Fort is very interesting in many ways. Its strategic location, its small size, its architecture etc.
First a bit of history on one of the eight existing forts of Mumbai.
History of Sewri Fort
Bombay, now Mumbai, was an important stronghold for colonial powers. The Siddi general Yadi Sakat and his army, the Portuguese and the British, the city has experienced them all. Also known as शिवड़ी किल्ला in Marathi, this fort in Mumbai was built by the British for security purposes. It was one of the 3 forts constructed by them on the eastern shoreline. Built in 1680 it was to be served as a watch tower and first line of defense against the Portuguese who had held the land across Mithi River (called Salsette Island).
Sewri Fort was used as a check post, a watch tower and was managed by a subedar and around 50 sepoys. It also had around 8-10 canons.
Later, as threats from the sea decreased, the importance of the Sewri Fort too gone and it became a godown of the Mumbai Port Trust. Not to mention, it was in a bad shape when a few years back the Maharashtra State’s Department of Archaeology and Museums took it over for its upkeep and renovation and classified it as a Grade I structure.
Architecture of Sewri Fort
The Sewri fort is built on a high hill from rocks quarried from its hillside and is surrounded by land on 3 sides. The 4th side is a cliff that drops down into the sea and the mangroves.
The entrance to the main structure of the fort is through a stone doorway which is dark, into an arched foyer. Only when you enter the courtyard through the main entrance, you see a design reflecting the insides of the fort. It does look like a fort albeit very small.
As a popular defense mechanism, this fort also has main area at right angles to the main entrance so the enemy doesn’t see directly what is in its store. They must have learnt the tricks from the earlier invasions.
The courtyard or the central court is around 60 feet long with small rooms or domes on either side. It also has a lone tree at one end. On one side are domed structures, which were perhaps guard rooms or storage rooms or maybe for keeping prisoners of war. On the other side you can see out through windows of a room which is roofless. The space between the outer walls and the walls of the internal structures form the second ring of defense as in case of many forts.
A variety of stones are used to build the Sewri Fort. Dark grey almost black basalt, dark green rocks, rhyolite are some of them. Perhaps it looked beautiful when it was built.
The other side of Sewri Fort
Besides locational advantage, we didn’t see anything that could attract tourists or locals to this fort. It is located next to the dargah, named as Jalal Shah Murad Shah Baba Dargah. Still people including locals are not aware of its existence. They can easily guide you to all neighboring places like Sewri Jetty, the automobile service centers, the Port Trust Office, the dargah but this Fort.
We could not see a single signboard from Sewri station till this place guiding people. Even after reaching the fort there’s nothing which indicates that this is the Sewri Fort.
Unfortunately the fort is in a dilapidated condition.
The place is deserted and I was wondering if it has become a hangout for petty crimes. When we were clicking photos, one of them saw us and alerted others. The whole thing was so scary that we hurried up and left the place without any delay.
Vistas from Sewri Fort
The fort is atop a quarried hill in island of Parel overlooking the Mumbai harbour and the Sewri mudflats. Although the Sewri Mangrove Park is close by & you get a great view of the creek and the flamingos, you get to see different views from the Sewri Fort, depending on the direction you are looking at. The high-rise buildings, the industrial units and the Sewri Jetty, the dargah next door and the flamingos.
It is a vantage point on the eastern shoreline.
How to reach Sewri fort
The fort Sewri is located right next to Jalal Shah Murad Shah Baba Dargah.
There are hardly any signboards guiding people from Sewri station to this place. Even after reaching the fort there’s nothing which indicates that you have reached your destination.
Get off at Sewree station (E), on the harbour line and walk towards north end of the platform as there is no exit from the south end for going to the eastern side. Cross the main road (Mahul Road) through railway crossing, take the Sewri Koliwada Road opposite. Continue on this road and take the left of a ‘Y’ road. This will take you to a T junction where this road meets the Sewri Fort Road. Colgate-Palmolive factory is also nearby.
Next to the factory you can see the stairs going up. These steps lead to both dargah and the fort.
Total walking time is less than 10 minutes.
Take the IMAX Wadala road and take the turning for Sewree. If you’re coming from Chembur side, there is a left turn after the salt pan road. Continue along this road until you reach a crossroad near Godrej Foods. Take a right and go straight along this road (Mahul Road) until you reach Sewree Station.
If you’re coming from town or from the Western side, take R.A Kidwai Marg and cross over from West to East when you reach Sewree station. Once you are at Sewree station East, directions are the same as above.
Sewree Bus depot is located in Sewree West and cross over to eastern side. Take any bus that ends at P.Thakeray Udyan/Sewree depot.
Tips on Sewri Fort
1. The roads are full of oil soaked dust and not very clean.
2. Ask for शिवड़ी किल्ला and not for Sewri fort. We asked the policemen on patrolling duty the directions for fort and in turn he asked a rag-picker. Thinking the boy would not understand ‘fort’ I asked for ‘killa’. Even before he could utter, the policeman said, “Achha, killa jana hai? Idhar se jao (Do you want to go to killa? Go from this side.)”. I immediately realized my mistake.
3. Bring along water and some food, there is nothing in the immediate vicinity, except at Sewri station.
4. If you are interested in seeing the salt pans as well, walk northwards on the Mahul road.
5. If you are in the right season (October to March), you can watch hundreds of migratory birds flamingos flocking the Sewri mud flats. Do bring along a good pair of binoculars if you plan to see the flamingos.
FAQ on Sewri Fort
What is Sewri famous for?
In 1996, the mangrove swamps of Sewri were declared a protected ecology. Flamingos from other parts of India come to these mangroves to breed. The coastal area of locality includes a wetland, the Sewri mudflats. The flamingos arrive at the mudflats from the months of October to March every year.
Which is the oldest fort in Mumbai?
The Bombay Castle, also known as Casa da Orta (Orta’s house), is one of the oldest defensive fortification structures in Mumbai. A Portuguese nobleman Garcia de Orta had built a Manor House and then from year 1554 until his death in 1570, leased the island of Bombay.
Which is the smallest fort in Maharashtra?
Tung fort is one of the many hill forts near Pune in Maharashtra. It seems to be the smallest fort.
How many forts are there in Mumbai?
Mumbai has a total of 8 forts. They are :
Castella De Aguada. It is also called Bandra Fort and is one of the most visited Mumbai tourist places.
Fort St George (Fort Mumbai area).
Which fort in Mumbai is British?
Worli Fort. Built on Worli hill by the British around 1675, the Worli Fort overlooks Mahim Bay. It has a bell tower which is visible from the Arabian Sea. The fort also has three platforms for canons.
Sewri Fort can be visit during 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
There is no entry fee to see the Sewri Fort.
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