Fort fought over for centuries by 3 powers to rise from ruins

Mumbai: 14 Feb, 2019 (Times of India)

Ghodbunder Fort, lying in ruins despite its promise of a weekend getaway for the busy residents of nearby Thane and Mumbai, is poised for a change in its fortunes. Having changed hands several times in centuries past as a marker of territorial expansion, it has now undergone yet another transfer, albeit for peaceful purposes: its own upkeep and the development of tourism.

Currently under the Archaeological Society of India (ASI), the fort has been adopted by the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) under the state government’s ‘adopt-a-fort’ scheme. The civic administration will undertake beautification and landscaping on the 7.68 hectare premises of the fort, which is the only historical monument in the Mira-Bhayander region.

The state department of cultural affairs on Tuesday granted ‘heritage structure’ status to eight monuments in the state, including the fort, paving the way for their adoption. The department has also prepared a list of 14 ‘model forts’, on which Shirgaon Fort in Palghar, finds mention. The state had in 2007 come up with the Maharashtra Vaibhav State Protected Monuments Adoption Scheme to help protect and preserve historical monuments.

MBMC is expected to incur a cost of around Rs 1.8 crore for the beautification of the fort precinct. Former standing committee chairperson and corporator Dhruvkishore Patil told TOI that with the government granting it heritage status, the monument will be revived. He said an agreement will be signed between MBMC and ASI before work begins.

In July 2014, a joint survey of the fort was carried out by MBMC and the Thane district collectorate. A budgetary provision of Rs 25 lakh was made to preserve the fort. Nothing moved beyond that. Over the last few years, historians have been conducting tours of Ghodbunder Fort to create awareness and push for its restoration.