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Set at the very tip of Worli, past a dense fishing village, there is the iconic Worli Fort – a lesser known historical landmark in Mumbai. The centuries-old fort is very rarely frequented by tourists owing to its inconvenient location, and has accordingly been mostly neglected by the government as well. Yet the fort – which still stands tall and majestic – and its surrounding neighbourhood are gratifying sites to visit.

History of Worli fort

The Worli Fort is considered to have been built by the British around the 17th century as a lookout for enemy ships and pirates. Alternate accounts suggest that it was erected by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Regardless, overlooking the Mahim Bay at a time when Mumbai was just a group of islands, the fort was of great strategic importance to the British Navy guarding the western coast of the country.

The fort premises involve a well, a temple and plenty of space where you can soak in views of Mahim, Bandra. The iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link outside the stronghold adds importance to its location. There are platforms for cannons inside the keep, a reminder of its past military significance. This fort is one of the three that overlook Mahim Bay on Mumbai’s western coast, with the Mahim Fort and the Bandra Fort to its north. All the three forts were adapted by the British to improve defence along the coast, even though only the Worli Fort is considered to have been built by them. (more in the History section)

The Fort as we see it today

The fort is pretty sturdy and still looks glorious even having withstood adverse weather conditions and long year of negligence by the government. Renovated in 2007, it has been maintained by several locals and the Bombay Municipal Corporation ever since.

Although it is quite difficult to reach the fort due to Kolis, the fishing community residing around it, it is open for the public to visit and can be accessed by foot.

You can walk through the frenzy and narrow lanes to reach the fort by climbing up a few steps. A beautifully ornamented and arched gate welcomes you to the fort. Inside, you can see a weird combination of a Hanuman temple, a well, a gym, and a vast open space. From here, you can get admire views of the amazing Mahim Bay and the Bandra-Worli Sealink, and feel the cool sea-breeze touching your face. This defense structure is one of the few intact forts in Mumbai that persists in all its glory and is worth a visit for its unimpaired architecture. Attention is drawn to the structure of Bandra-Worli Sealink. Quite a few history buffs, students and foreigners find their way up here. On the borders of the fort there are large cannons made of rock that were once used as weapons to deter enemies entering the territory. Once you are done touring the premises, you might want to head to the nearby Golfa Devi temple that is considered to be a popular religious site in Worli. The tall structure stands amidst the blue Arabian Sea. The entire area is dusty and covered with sand. The place smells of fish. However, one must appreciate the great vision of British administrators who realized the danger one might face because of the geographical location of the place. If you see the map of Mumbai, these threats in the area, especially during those days, become all the more apparent.

Tourist Information

The centuries-old fort is very rarely frequented by tourists due to its inconvenient location, and has accordingly been mostly neglected by the government as well. Yet the stronghold – which still stands tall and majestic – along with its surrounding neighborhood are gratifying sites to visit.

The fort stands in the middle of the main city of Mumbai and is accessible from the Mumbai Central station by road. It is open for tourists and the public from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. all days of the week.

Text by Sammik C Basuu