Location: 50-km North Of Mumbai
Formerly Known As: Bassein
Attractions: Vasai (Bassein) Fort, Aagashi Jain Mandir, Arnala Fort, Chinchoti
Waterfalls, Holy Christ Church
Best Time To Visit: October To March
Vasai is located about 50-km North of Mumbai, on the Arabian Sea. The Portuguese formerly called it Bassein (Baçaim) and then by the British, it also had various other names during the course of history. The town is historically important too. It was part of the territory of the Hindu Devgiri Yadavas until 1317; later it became a seaport for the Gujarat Muslim kings.
In 1526, the Portuguese established a fort (now in ruins) and a trading station, and the town became known for its ship building industry. After frequent but unsuccessful attacks by the Mughals in the 17th century, it fell to the Marathas in 1739 and was later taken by the British. Vasai during the Portuguese period was known for the refinement and wealth and splendor of its buildings, palaces and for the beauty of its churches. History Bassein, on the mainland northwest of Bombay, was a large Portuguese enclave, second only to Goa, until 1739. The most significant past in Vasai's history is the rein of the Portuguese, since they largely influenced or changed to what Vasai-Virar area is today. The northern holdings of the Portuguese, including Daman and Diu, were governed from this center. The fort and the hinterland around it were lost to the Marathas in a campaign, which lasted two years and ended in complete Maratha supremacy.
When Portuguese arrived, Bassein was under the rule of Bahadur Shah a ruler of Bombay. In 1528, Captain Heytor de Silveira captured and burnt the city of Bassein. In 1532, the Portuguese attacked Bassein again and after a weak resistance, they entered the smaller fort and destroyed it. Subsequently, the towns of Thana, Bandora (Bandra), Mahim and Bombaim (Bombay) were put under Portuguese control.
In December 1534, Bahadur Shah signed a treaty with the Portuguese and ceded Bassein with its dependencies of Salsette, Bombaim (Bombay), Parel, Vadala, Siao (Sion), Vorli (Worli), Mazagao (Mazgao), Thana, Bandra, Mahim, and Caranja. In the second half of 16th century the Portuguese built a new fortress enclosing a whole town with in the fort walls. This fort stands till today with the outer shell and ruins of churches.
At the end of 17th century Bassein reached the height of the prosperity. From 1611, Bassein and the whole region under the Portuguese had a mint or "Casa da Moeda". These old coins were found occasionally during digs and were locally called "Firgi paisa".
In February 1739, Chimaji Appa attacked Bassein and after a desperate resistance on 16th May 1739 the Portuguese signed surrender. The Portuguese lost eight cities, four chief ports, twenty fortress, two fortified hills, the island of Salcete (Salsette) with the city and the fortress of Thana, the "Ilha das Vaccas", the island of Karanjà (Juem), and 340 villages. They left Bassein on 23rd May 1739. After 205 years of uninterrupted Portuguese rule, Bassein was progressively neglected, and the neighboring English Bombay assumed importance in trade and commerce. In 1801 in Poona (Pune), Jaswant Rao Holkar rose in rebellion with a huge army and defeated the combined armies of Daulat Rao Sindhia and Peshwa Baji Rao II and captured the city of Poona. Peshwa Baji Rao took refuge in Bassein. The defeated Baji Rao had no hesitation in accepting the Subsidiary Alliance with the British and signed the Treaty of Bassein with East India Company on December 31, 1802. In May 1803 Baji Rao II was restored as Peshwa under the protection of the British. The treaty of Bassein eventually led to expansion and influence of the East India Company over the Indian subcontinent.
Vasai Fort: Bassein Fort also known, as Vasai Fort is an important sea fort located in Bassein, present day Vasai, at about 55-km away from Mumbai. Built by Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, it was initially one of a chain of forts intended to guard the coast against the Portuguese and the pirates.
Aagashi Jain Mandir: About 5-km from Virar, there is a 400 years old ancient Parshwanath Temple. During "Kartik Poornima" every year, a very big festival is organized at this temple, which is visited by large number of devotees. Food and accommodation facilities are made available to those who visit this place. The saints in the assembly hall of the temple conduct a religious lecture.
Arnala Fort: Arnala fort was built on Arnala Island, approximately 8 miles North of Vasai. It is surrounded on all sides by water and so is also known as "Jaldurg" or "Janjire Arnala".
Chinchoti Waterfalls: The Chinchoti waterfalls located to the east of Vasai are a popular picnic spot for the young crowds from Mumbai City. In the center of the thick forest is this waterfall, which flows continuously from June to October. The waterfall is about 100ft. high and 20ft. broad. Tourists visit this place to enjoy the falls. This wonderful waterfall makes a great monsoon getaway. But on weekends it might seem as though the entire population of Mumbai is here.
Holy Chirst Church: On the hill beside the town of Mahabaleshwar stands the Holy Christ church. This church was built in 1842, is a place worth visiting. With its beautiful stained glass window still intact, the squatters now occupying the church will happily allow you in for a peek.
Jiwadani: Jiwadani" means "Goddess of Life". The mountain on which the temple is situated is known as "Mount Jiwadani". It takes about half an hour from Virar and about 40 to 45 minutes to walk over the mountain to have "Darshan" of Goddess Jiwadani.
Virar: Virar is linked to Mumbai by local suburban railway with regular train service from Church gate to Virar. It is the last station on the suburban railway. Virar is also connecting point for shuttle service to Palghar and Dahanu.
Vajreshawari: Vajreshwari is a small village about 31-km from Vasai and 85-km from Mumbai City. Vajreshwari is named after the goddess Vajreshwari whose temple has historical importance. This temple looks like an ancient fort. The idol of the goddess is very impressive and is being worshipped for last few centuries. After the Victory of Vasai Fort, Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa built this Temple besides the Mandakini Mountain, which was formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. That is the reasons why there are number of hot water streams near this place. In fact, some of the hot springs here are hottest in Asia.
Sopara: Sopara was an ancient port and an international trading center. The most likely route of ships coming to Sopara is from the North. It is believed that the water once extended all the way to Bhyander creek thus making the whole area extending from Arnala to Bhyander an island - referred to as Salsatte Island. In the time of the Buddha, Sopara, (Ancient Shurparaka), was an important port and a gateway settlement. Between Virar and Nala-Sopara, somewhere halfway between the two stations, there is a small hill to the east of the railway. On top of that hill was a stone built structure.
Nirmal: A small green village at a distance of around 6-kms from Vasai is a pilgrim spot for Shurpara Nagar. There are "Samadhi" meditation spots of Parshuram and Shankaracharya - also the temples of "Suleshwar" and "Kartik Swami". A fair is organized every year at this place during "Kartik Ekadashi".
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is Mumbai (50-km). It has both national and international airports.
Rail: The nearest railway station is on Vasai road on the western railway. Only few trains pass through the station.
Road: Vasai being an important tourist place is well connected by road with all the places in Maharashtra. MTDC and Maharashtra State service ply buses from almost all the important places.