- Address:Off Link Road , Dharavi Village , West Mumbai, 400058
Latitude / Longitude: 19.11768, 72.86571
The Riwa Fort (also Rewah Fort), locally known as Kala Qilla or Black Fort, is a fort located in Central Mumbai, on the banks of the Mithi River. The fort is currently in a dilapidated condition amidst the Dharavi slums. It was built by the first governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier (1669-1677). It was part of the larger Bombay Castle, and marked the northern portion of British-held Bombay in the 17th century. The castle was also used as a watchtower, guarding the territory against the Portuguese-held (and later Maratha-held) Salsette Island.
The Rehwa Fort in the monsoon is overgrown with weeds from the last few months and trees from the last many years. Below a stone plaque that reads “Built By Order of the Honorable Horn Esq. President and Governor of Bombay in 1737″ (and which is signed “Engineer”) hangs a clothesline with a lungi, a pair of shorts and a gamcha. On its rampart stands a flag bearing the emblem of the Bahujan Samaj Party. Children still climb it to play hide and seek. But the creek they could have dived into has been filled and converted into the Kala Killa Bus Depot. The area, including a main road with the city’s finest leather shops is called Kala Killa too, but the Killa baptizing these lies deep within a slum. The colony surrounding the fort was built in the early 1970s, when Zanke (then a worker in the same coal company) and his fellow residents resisted displacement.
Zanke makes light of his back problem, clambering up the rampart, to impart a guided tour inside. Researchers, journalists and authors, from as far as Europe and Australia, have benefited from such tours, free of cost. “This is where the King sat,” he points to a giant stone seat, now growing grass. “And these smaller seats, for ministers. And those, bench like, for soldiers.” He then urges others to jump with him into a dark chamber in the fort’s midst. ”
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