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THANA DISTRICT
MUMBAI CIRCLE
The term ‘Thana’ is derived from the word Sthana or settlement, as the area was an extensive settlement much before the surrounding area was occupied. In a copper plate of 997 it is mentioned as Shri- Sthanaka, where a royal festival took place and another copper edict of 1018 states that is was one of the chief towns of a family of Silahara chiefs, who ruled over 1400 Konkan villages. Occupying a strategic topographical location along the western fore shore of the Salsette creek, with the picturesque Yeur hills and the Parsik peaks, Thana was earlier a major port where extensive trade was carried out. Due to its significance a palimpsest of traders and rulers, ranging from the Silaharas to Muslims to Portuguese, Marathas and British is found here in the form of lost and remnant edifices. The existence of several ancient cave sites, reservoirs and forts further reinforce its historicity.
LIST OF MONUMENTS
Carved Stones at Wada
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Wada
LOCALITY Wada (Lat. 190 39’, Long. 730 09’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 811, dated 28.09.1921
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Thane, Bus station- Wada
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The carved pieces of stone are found within the premises of Khandeshwar temple, now extensively renovated, but which was originally a late medieval temple. A Shiva temple, it was built in the dry mortar bedding construction methodology, with foundations 60’ x 57’ of huge blocks of stone with the usual joists for iron or wooden clamps and a shrine with altar inside. The architectural fragments include a Shiva-linga, nandi, naga pillar capital with a well-cut cobra with extended hood and some other sculptural pieces. Records indicate that an inscribed stone from Wada was found with 11 lines written in the Devanagari script, from the 5th or 6th century A.D., stating the name of a king Maurya Suketuvarma and that Kotishwar was established by Sinhadutta son of Kumaradatta.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: Wada lies 62 kms. from Thane and is believed to be originally the headquarters of the Jawhar chiefs. Hence it has many remains of that and subsequent periods along with vernacular settlements.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882)
Brahminical Caves of Pulu Sonavala
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Murbad
LOCALITY Pulu Sonavala (Lat. 190 15’, Long. 730 35’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 8645, dated 13.12.1916
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Kalyan, Bus station- Murbad
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Indistinct but significant excavation characterizes this group of 11 caves at Pulu Sonavala (also known as Pulu Sonala), which have a vantage aspect of the Sahyadri hill range. Cut from the east to west, these Brahminical caves are generally plain excavations with no major architectural features except those in Cave no. 6 that has a hall (54’ x 36’) with a central shrine and two side cells at the rear. The roof is supported by 6 pillars with the sculpture of goddess Mahishamardini or Buffalo-demon slayer on the left inner pillar and that of another goddess on the right innermost pillar, probably of the 8th century. The recess in the back wall, where usually a deity is housed, comprises of a pit about 5’ deep.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: These caves lie at the foot of the Nana Ghat pass on hill slopes and are attributed to be a resting and meditation place for traders and pilgrims passing along this trade route.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE Yes
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) James Burgess, Revised List of Antiquarian remains in the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XVI), (Bombay 1885). (2) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882).
Mound locally known Burud King
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Vasai
LOCALITY Nala Sopara (Lat. 190 25’, Long. 720 47’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: F-18 - 22 / 37 – F, dated 25.03.1938
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Vasai, Bus station- Vasai
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Sopara or Shurparaka finds mention in the Mahabharata (1400 B.C.) as a very holy place that the Pandavas rested enroute from Gokarn in north Kanara to Prabha or Verval in Kathiawad and was also an important and one of the oldest ports and ship building yards. It was also the capital (1500 B.C. to 1300 A.D.) in the Satavahana period and a cultural centre. One of the first Buddhist centers in western India, very few remnants of its original antiquity survive, with almost no trace of the Buddhist period and archival records mention a rich and architectural vibrant town with fine details. The most significant monuments of this region (as well as that of the country) is the Buddhist stupa or relic mound about a quarter mile west of Sopara town. In April 1882 Pandit Bhagvanlal Indraji undertook excavation of this mound locally known as Burud Rajacha Kot, or the fort of the Basket-making king. The mound, which is about 65 yards round the base, rises about 17 feet with steps from the eastern side. Round the mound the foundation of a brick and stone wall can be clearly traced about 56 feet to the north and south and about 96 feet to the east-west of the mound. In the middle of the southern wall, there seem to be the remains of a gate, and in the middle of the east wall there was the main entrance. Relics found during the excavation such as a stone coffer, caskets, gold figures, seals etc. are currently in the possession of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: It is located 5 Kms. north of Nirmal and was originally an island cut off from the main land by a creek, known as Bassein or Sopara island. This topographical aspect ensured that it was a significant port with extensive trade network with Persia and other ancient cities.
OWNERSHIP Private
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) A. Ghosh, An encyclopedia of Indian Archaeology, Vol. II, (New Delhi 1989). (2) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882).
Mahuli Fort
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Shahapur
LOCALITY Mahuli (Lat. 19’ 28’, Long. 730 15’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 1365, dated 19.03.1910
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Ategaon, Bus station- Shahapur
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Consisting of a wall, bastions and gate, Mahuli fort is massive and stands at the end of the path, which ascends from the base village or Machi. Its natural strength is derived from scarps, ravines and the clefts between the three peaks. Believed to be fortified by the Mughals, the fort once enclosed ruins of a place of prayer and a mosque. In 1485, along with other Konkan forts, Mahuli was held by Malik Ahmed, who later established the Ahmadnagar dynasty, and in 1635 was surrendered to Shahu, where Jijabai occasionally took refuge with her young son Shivaji. Shahu was forced to surrender Mahuli in 1636 after it was invaded by Khan Zaman and in 1661 Shivaji reclaimed it though it was fiercely defended by a Rajput garrison. Soon after it was given to the Mughals but in 1670, a fierce battle resulted in its recapture by Moro Tirmal, Shivaji’s Peshwa or Prime Minister. From then onwards till 1817 the Marathas occupied Mahuli, till it was taken over by the British as part of the Pune treaty.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: Located on a spur or short range with three distinct peaks (Palasgad on the north, Mahuli in the centre and Bhandargad in the south), Mahuli fort is built on a hill 2815’ high at a distance of 9Kms from Shahapur. As is common to Sahyadri hill forts, the scarp even in the case of Mahuli was chiseled such that it formed a sheer precipice and was hence rendered inaccessible in case of a siege.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) M. S. Naravane, Forts of Maharashtra, (Delhi 1995). (2) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882)
Caves on Barad Hill
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Dahanu
LOCALITY Khunwada (Lat. 240 04’, Long. 720 47’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 4326, dated 06.10.1923
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Sanjan, Bus station- Dahanu
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Datable to the 7th or 8th century A.D., the cave site carved in basalt stone on top of the Barad hill consists of 6 unfinished caves and a water cistern. All caves face eastwards and excavated on the very steep westward face of the hill. The caves are rather plain with few broken pillars and are devoid of any sculptural representation. In one of the caves, a brick wall in lime mortar has been placed over the rock surface facing the cave from inside. In a rock-cut cave, excavated in the form of a house with pillars, doors and windows, the Parsis hid their sacred fire when they fled from Sanjan.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: The monument is located about 20Kms from Dahanu and is carved on Barad Hill, 1760’ high. It was earlier an important geological landmark for sailors as it was easily visible for 40 miles in clear weather.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882).
Ancient Mound at Gas
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Gas
LOCALITY Gas (Lat. 19’ 23’, Long. 720 47’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: F-18-22 / 37-F, dated 25.03.1938
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Nala Sopara, Bus station- Nala Sopara
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The ancient mound locally known as Sonar Bhat, approximately rises to about 6 feet height from the ground level. The top surface of the mound seems to have been partly unearthed remains of a small tank probably of the 14th century A.D. Besides two wells and a reservoir stand to the east and northeast part of the site respectively. Records indicate the location of a broken cross-legged figure, perhaps that of Ambika, at the east foot of the mound, as well as close to it large earthenware cups were unearthed. The Chakreshwar bull (from the Chakreshwar temple in the vicinity) was dug out of a well about 50 yards to the west. Near the road-side a damaged sculptured stone was also found, the main figure in which was perhaps the Sun, as he held a lotus in each hand, apparently part of an entrance door of the 11th or 12th century. A part section is visible but the proper cultural aspects of the site could not be ascertained. Pottery is also found embedded in the section, which also do not help to throw light on its cultural assemblage. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to find out the sequence or the potentialities of this mound in the absence of a clear section.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: It is located in Nala Sopara near Mumbai. Gas was originally believed to be the site of the old town of Sopara and yielded many archaeological evidences in the form of fragments of stone and relic mounds, indicating its historicity.
OWNERSHIP Private
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) James Burgess, Revised List of Antiquarian remains in the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XVI), (Bombay 1885). (2) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882)
Tank on the West Side of the Road from Umrala to Bolinj
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Bolinj
LOCALITY Bolinj (Lat. 190 25’, Long. 720 47’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: F.18-22 / 37-F. D., dated 25.03.1938
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Virar, Bus station- Bolinj
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: It is a small water tank with signs of steps on its southern side and some large architectural blocks lie on the south. The villagers reportedly salvaged a Vishnu sculpture about two decades ago.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: The monument is located about 20Kms from Bassein.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE No
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
 
Bassein Fort
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Vasai
LOCALITY Vasai (Lat. 190 20’, Long. 720 44’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 2704 – A, dated 26.05.1909
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Vasai, Bus station- Virar
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The construction of the Bassein fort is attributed to Bahadur Shah, the sultan of Gujarat (1526-27 AD) and it was fortified by Malik Taughan, in 1552 AD. In 1739 AD it was taken over by the Peshwa Bajirao-I and was finally passed in the hands of the British in 1817 AD. Bassein fort was one of the most significant forts of the Portuguese dominion and their main base in North Konkan, which is evident from its size and the extent of remains. Apart from the actual fortifications comprising of eleven bastions, two main entrances and a postern, the fort complex includes six churches, four convents, two colleges (a Jesuit and a Franciscan), a citadel, two palaces, a pond, a tank, temples and several smaller structures. With straight streets and large squares, a regular planning feature of most European towns, the fort of Bassein in addition to housing a strong garrison was more of a fortified town. The footprint of Bassein fort is an irregular decagon, 1.5 miles round, built of stone masonry 15’ high and approximately 5’ thick. The bastions were given the names of apostles and holy saints, such as Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, Thiago, Sam Joao, Cavalerios, Sebastian, Paulo, Pedro, Elefanta, Madre de Rens, Reis Magos and Goncalo and were typically of the four-sided ear-shaped jutting typology common for Portuguese forts. The two double gateways were the west entrance from the land called the Porta Da Terra and Porta Do Mar or the sea gate on the east, along with a small postern on the south leading to the koli settlement. A stone with a Portuguese inscription lay near the gateway stating, ‘During the reign of the most high and most mighty King Dom Joam of Portugal, the third of this name, and when D. Afonso de Noronha, son of the Marquis of Villa Real, was Viceroy, and Francisco de Sa, Captain of the fort and city of Bacai, this bastion named Sam Sebastian, was built on the 22nd February 1554’. The citadel wall displays one of the oldest Portuguese inscriptions in Bassein which reads, ‘The first Captain who built this fortress was Garcia de Sa, by command of the Governor Nuno da Cunha in the year 1536’. Semi-circular bastions at the corners of this extensive rectangular structure are the only ones in the fort which primarily has bastions of the angular variety. These are perhaps debatably the only surviving Muslim remnants at Bassein fort.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: Situated on the sea-coast about 48 Kms north of Bombay, Bassein fort is located in Vasai at the mouth of Ulhas Creek. The fort was once an independent island fort now contiguous with the mainland of Vasai due to silting and incremental reclamations, cut off from the mainland by the Sopara Creek. Bassein on the north side, a fort called Dharavi on the south of the Ulhas Creek and Ghodbunder towards the interior of the creek formed a trio of forts to control this backdoor entry to the Kalyan port and Thane as well as the Bombay Harbour.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE Yes
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) James Burgess, Revised List of Antiquarian remains in the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XVI), (Bombay 1885). (2) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882). (3) J. B. B. R. A.S. Vol. X, (Bombay 1875). (4) Braz A. Fernandes, A guide to the ruins of Bassein, (Bombay 1948). (5) J. B. Kamalapur, The Deccan Fort, (Bombay 1960) (6) M. S. Naravane, Forts of Maharashtra, (Delhi 1995).
Arnala Fort
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Vasai
LOCALITY Arnala (Lat. 200 27’, Long. 720 44’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 2704 - A, dated 26.05.1909
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Vasai, Bus station- Virar
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Commanding the southern and main entrance to the Vaitarna river, the most extensive inlet in north Konkan, Sultan Mahmud Begada constructed Arnala fort in 1516. Occupation by the Portuguese in 1530, meant destruction of several Saracenic structures within the fort, but the fort itself seems to be largely retained. A guard of soldiers was stationed at the fort, which also has an extension in the form of a round bastion like structure at the south of the main fort looking out over the Vaitarna Creek inlet at the south. Arnala became a major naval depot during the Portuguese times and served as an intermediate outpost between Bassein in the south and Daman in the north, acting also as a bulwark protecting the mouth of Vaitarna Creek. Among north Konkan forts it ranked next to Bassein in size and strength, and was superior to Bassein in the uniform breadth of its rampart top, or terrepleine, and its uniform line of defense. Some amount of ship building activity also took place at Arnala. After an intense battle between the Portuguese and the Marathas in 1739, Arnala was captured by the Marathas and according to a Marathi inscription over the northern gateway, was rebuilt during the reign of Peshwa Bajirao I by an architect named Baji Tulaji. Efforts for its capture were made by the British in 1781, when the Marathas did not yield and preparations for bombardment of Arnala were made from Agashi. It was briefly occupied by the British at this time when the East India Company troops captured it under Colonel Goddard, but was returned to the Peshwas and finally came under the dominion of the British in 1817. Constituting a compact fort, Arnala consists of a more or less rectangular fortified complex with gateways on the centre of each side, the main one being the north entrance. The fort complex, apart from the ancillary bastion at a short distance on the south and the actual ramparts, comprises of an original but ruinous structure, two temples, a Muslim dargah, a miniature shrine housing the local deities, an old octagonal well and 4 other wells.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: Arnala is a compact fort built on an island 0.25 km. off the Agashi coast and was also known as Janjira after the Marathi corruption of the Arabic word ‘Jazirah’ meaning an island. It was also called the Illha de Vaccas, or cow’s island by the Portuguese. Barely visible from the coast, access to the fort is possible by the regular ferries from Agashi coast every 20 to 25 minutes up to the island from which an irregular unpaved pathway leads through the village settlement of Arnala till the main north entrance of the fort. Arnala fort is approximately 40 km. from Thane city and 14.49 km. north of Vasai.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE Yes
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) M. S. Naravane, Forts of Maharashtra, (Delhi 1995). (2) James Burgess, Revised List of Antiquarian remains in the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XVI), (Bombay 1885). (3) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882).
Ambarnath Temple
DISTRICT Thane TEHSIL / SUB-DIVISION: Kalyan
LOCALITY Ambarnath (Lat. 190 12’ Long. 720 10’)
NOTIFICATION NO.: 2704 – A, dated 26.05.1909
APPROACH: Airport- Mumbai, Railway Station- Ambarnath, Bus station- Ambarnath
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The temple of Ambarnath is in Bhumija style dated to 1060 AD according to an inscription. It was built during the reign of the Silahara dynasty using basalt stone. Originally the temple had a walled enclosure, now missing. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, and a mandapa with three porches on the north, south and west. The mandapa consists of a central square, which is surrounded by aisles and passage on the four sides. The east passage leads to the garbhagriha.
TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES: This monument is situated 7 Kms southeast of Kalyan.
OWNERSHIP Central Government
IS IT UNDER RELIGIOUS USE Yes
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL Archaeological Survey of India, Mumbai Circle.
PUBLISHED REFERENCES,
IF ANY:
(1) H. Cousens, The Architectural Antiquities of Western India, (London 1887). (2) H. D. Sankalia & A. V. Naik, Bulletin of the Deccan College, Vol. I, Nos. 2 – 4, (Poona 1940). (3) A. S. Pathak, (Executive Editor & Secretary), Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency – Thana Places of Interest, Facsimile Reproduction, Vol. XIV, (Bombay 2000, originally printed in 1882). (4) V. V. Mirashi (ed.), Inscriptions of Silharas, Corpus Inscription Indicarum, (New Delhi 1977). (5) H. Cousens, Medieval temple of the Deccan, (New Delhi 1985).