The Castella de Aguada is an actual place though it looks out of a children’s adventure book.
Popularly known as Bandra Fort. Has accentuated both reel-life, and real-life love lives for those who live life ‘filmy’!
In Bandra West, earlier probably known as Bandora.
In Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay.
History of it goes back to the Portuguese who built it in 1640 as a watch tower to guard its land. This was after they got control of land after defeating Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1534. Then they broke the existing Mahim fort. The vantage point that this part of the estuary provided helped in keeping watch over Mahim Bay and Arabian Sea. Books mention a fresh water fountain here was essential for the Portuguese ships cruising around. So the Castella de Aguada or ‘Bandra Fort’ was multi-functional. Property was disputed and had multiple owners in Bombay/Mumbai since ages!
But what were the Portuguese doing here? Were they not just traders who sneezed their way to India for pepper? Yes. They initially were. Vasco da Gama was the first Portuguese emissary who landed in Calicut on 27 May 1498. And, that opened up India to the first of European traders. But the Portuguese had interests over Indian territories with the objective of being the solitary traders from Europe with India. So much for the love of pepper!!!
• According to Gerson D’Cunha the fort had 7 cannons and smaller guns as defence.
From 1661, with the transfer of the 7 islands of Bombay to the British as dowry by the Portuguese, our own Castella de Aguada became more crucial due to its location over these warring European traders. Bandra was not of one of the 7 islands but you could peer over the rest from here. Love was definitely not the dominant theme of the Fort then.
In fear of a possible Maratha invasion through this Fort, the British demolished parts of it. Marathas ruled it from 1738 to 1774 till the British got it back during the First Anglo Maratha War.
In 1830, the British donated it and some areas around it to the Parsi businessman Byramjee Jeejeebhoy. He built his house on the hill and the area got a new name – the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Point. Why not? Most of us claim ownership by name change.
The Sea Rock Hotel built in 1970s offered from here a majestic view from its Golden Dragon revolving/rotating restaurant till 1993. Since the Hotel was abuzz with film world people did the love angle begin then? When nearby Regency was bought over by the Taj Group in 2009 and replaced by the Taj Land’s End Hotel, it was connected to Sea Rock.
Names of places reveal so much more than we know! Who knew a simple piece of land meant so much to so many people other than present and potential lovers???
Next time, be careful with the pepper!
• D’Cunha, Jose Gerson (1900). “IV The Portuguese Period”. The Origins of Bombay (3 ed.). Bombay: Asian Educational Services. p. 212.
All photos taken by author.