History of Fort Area

Fort area is the famous place in South Mumbai near to both Churchgate and CST railway station. In 1715 the fort was built by Charles Boone, the Governor of Bombay. That time the Fort area was considered as main city. It was built to protect city from invasion of Marathas. After thirty years for more safety purpose a ditch was constructed around the fort.

Fort remnant Mumbai

Remains of the old fort of St. George in Mumbai near St. George Hospital. Source: wikipedia.org

Until the mid-nineteenth century, Mumbai meant essentially the Fort and outside it were numerous villages like Mazagaon, Byculla, Mahim and Matunga. Outside the Fort walls was the ‘Black Town’ set amidst coconut trees. This also included the present. Girgaon and Bhuleshwar areas.

The Fort Wall, with its twelve bastions mounted with guns, ran from the sea to the Lion Gate then westwards upto the present University buildings and turned north, following Mahatma Gandhi Road (Honrby Road) upto V.T., then turning towards the east, joined the Fort St. George.

All Europeans coming by sea route use to enter through the Apollo Gate which was situated near the present Lion Gate. Other two gates where Churchgate and Bazaar Gate. The name Churchgate suggest that gate was present somewhere near where the Flora fountain to enter St. Thomas Cathedral Church.

No one was allowed to enter the city after sunset under any circumstances and anyone coming late had to spend the night outside the walls of the Fort. The city looked dead after seven in the evening. In order to indicate the time of sunset and sunrise, guns were fired.

Outside the city was the spacious Esplande that stretched like a large even sheet of green earth (as shown below) from the fort wall to Back Bay and from Cooperage to Grant Road. On this vast space, parts of which are still retained in the forms of maidans, was the European Golf course.

Fort Mumbai 1826

Fort Mumbai 1826

All this suddenly underwent a change with the pulling down of the Fort Wall in 1862-63. The ditch was filled. The city, as if released from a long confinement, began to stretch itself across the Esplande, where imposing structures began to rise, marking the beginning of modern Mumbai.

The town was so small that it was only a mile long from Apollo Gate to the Bazaar and about two furlongs broad from Church Gate to the Bunder which can be identified with today’s Fort area.

Northwest view of the fort of Bombay -1826

Northwest view of the fort of Bombay -1826

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