Saturday, February 25, 2006

India's piece of the Renaissance in Ruin

The silence rings through the waist high weeds-green, dense and prickly. I am entangled in the vegetation and yet I walk forward. Thorns pierce through my socks as I brush off the pollen. A rash breaks out as my arms glow red, I know scratching will not help but I do not fight the stimuli. I have realised that in nature’s eye humans are an invasive species. A bulbul watches us from her ivory tower in the mango tree laughing at our endeavour to fight nature’s wall of green. I let myself fall down on the lush wild green grass, close my eyes and think, “I am in Bassein, in search for haunted forts, fallen churches and a lost Portuguese principality-India’s piece of the Renaissance.”

Vasai as we know it now is the site of the ruins of the Portuguese citadel of Bassein. What were once churches, villas and buildings that supported more than 10,000 colonialists is all but overgrown moss ridden stone. I do not know why the Portuguese chose this place to be their imperial capital in India - may be it reminded them of the lavadas of Madiera. If history had played out differently this could have been the site of Bombay [well they would have probably called it something else] and we would have all spoken Portuguese instead of English.

View the entire Photo Commentary on the Vasai Fort here

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