Set in stone: Maharashtra’s forts shine at a seminar
We can’t see it anymore, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist,” said Rashna Poncha, assistant professor at the history department, Sophia College for Women. “A long-forgotten vestige, the 17th century Bombay Fort evolved into a flourishing city.”
Poncha was among academicians and researchers who presented papers at the Forts of Maharashtra seminar organised by the by KR Cama Oriental Institute, Fort, on Saturday. The event was meant to showcase the state’s grand history of fortification and its evolution over 2,500 years.
“Very little is known about this unique heritage of Maharashtra,” said Nawaz Mody, joint honorary secretary of the Institute. “We have such a wide variety of forts and the whole history of the state is reflected in them. We want more people to be aware of what is out there.”
The inaugural presentation, by Tejas Garge, head of the state Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, focused on the numerous types of cannons which were used at the state’s forts, and their influence on the structures’ architecture. This was followed by a session on the architecture and elements of the forts, presented by Dr Jehangir Sorabjee, a medical doctor with a passion for history, and Ramesh Raghavan, a researcher in archaeology, linguistics, and epigraphy.
The seminar was attended by students from Ruia, Sophia, and St Xavier’s colleges, as well as research associates from the Maritime History Society.
During a session on island forts, one audience member asked whether it would have been more feasible to build the Shivaji statue on the uninhabited Cross Island, located between the coast at Dockyard Road and Elephanta Island, rather than on a manmade one. Commander Mohan Narayan (Retd), who was chairing the session, explained that the Kanhoji Angre Island fort, off the coast of Mumbai, might have been an ideal location, as it was also occupied by Shivaji in the 17th Century. “It would be symbolic to build the statue in a place like Kandheri, or as it is now known, Kanhoji Angre Island.”