Written by Aaron Christopher
The restoration of the 18th century Ghodbunder Fort in Thane, built by the Portuguese, will start next month and likely be completed by 2020.
Under the state’s adopt a monument scheme, the fort has been adopted by the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation, which will also oversee the job of restoring the fort. Tejas Garge, director, state directorate of archaeology and museums, is cooperating with the civic body for the proposal. Garge said, “Sankranam Design Studio and the civic body will be carrying out conservation and restoration work around the Ghodbunder Fort. Pratap Sarnaik, the MLA of the Ovala-Majiwada constituency, has also joined hands with the project.”
“The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1730 and was later captured by the Marathas under the leadership of Chimaji Appa in 1737. The fort was in the hands of the Marathas till the British captured it in 1818 to make it the headquarters of the district administration for the East India Company. The fort got its name through its trade of horses. It also acted as storage for batteries used during wars. It was a coastal fort and was used as a watch tower to keep track of enemies from the sea. Architecturally, this fort was used more often for storage, so it had multiple rooms that were designed to keep weaponry,” said Sapna Lakhe, principal architect from the design studio.
Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation has prepared the proposal. Lakhe said, “The work will begin in 45 days and take nearly 18 months to finish.”
She added, “Landscaping and electricity work will be conducted under the proposal. In the initial months, we will clean the entire fort and remove all the grass that has grown inside. There’s not much damage except for some broken arches, which will be restored using the existing basalt stones that are already part of the structure. Apart from that, there were rooms used to store batteries where the cementing done previously will be removed and cleaned.”
“The stairs will be redone. We are trying to relate the landscape of the area to the Portuguese gardens. We are trying to replicate the exact form of the fort from the Chhatrapati Shivaji era,” Lakhe said.
The cost of restoration and conservation is Rs 2 crore, which will be paid by the civic body.