Sunday, 31 December 2017

Bombay castle, earliest colonial structure of 16th century

The Bombay castle is one of the earliest colonial monuments in the Mumbai area, dating back to the 16th century. The site was under the control of Portuguese in the early period and later the British took it over and fortified the site. 

In the early colonial period under the East India company, the British  built what is called the Bombay Castle (also Casa da Orta). Considered as  one of the oldest defensive structures  ever built in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), it was once the site of  the Manor House built by a Portuguese nobleman  Garcia de Orta (1501? – 1568). He was a Portuguese Renaissance Sephardi Jewish physician, herbalist and naturalist. Forcibly converted to Christianity in 1497, Garcia to pursue his practice as a physician,  he landed in Goa in September1534.

Gateway, Bombay castle Alamy
During the Portuguese rule the site - Island of  Bombay  was  taken on lease between 1554 and 1570 by Garcia de Orta from the King of Portugal. The islands of Bombay came under the  control of the English in 1665,,three years later in 1668 the East India Company took possession of the castle for their trade activities and to protect their interest in that region. The castle was built, using the locally available  blue Kurla stone and red laterite stone from the Konkan region to the south. In the following ten years, the company began building a defensive fort around the Manor once occupied by De Orta.

Bombay castle, Bombay alamy.com
A wall was built around the growing town between 1716 and 1723, however, as part of city development undertaken  during the 1800 the wall was pulled down in 1865. Now, one can see the remnants of the old wall.


The major building in the castle was  the Governor's House,  where the first Governor of Bombay  Gerald Aungier stayed  for some time. Over the next two centuries, the Governor's residence finally shifted to the Malabar hill. The offices of the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command. are in the present buildings.
As for the Manor that existed before the castle, records point out the presence of two gates  within INS Angre, a naval station in South Mumbai. Also located is a  sundial dating  back to the Portuguese era. This sundial does not find the 12 hours of a day, but points to certain important people and their periods.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_Castle


Bombay Castle still enchants 21st century Mumbai by Satish Nandgaonkar, Indian Express, March 24, 2003.