PLACES OF INTEREST

GHODBANDAR.

Ghodbandar, a small village and port in Salsette, with, in 1881, a population of 601, stands on the left bank of the Bassein creek about ten miles north-west of Thana and eighteen by a metalled road north of Bandra. It has a sea-customs office, and, during the five years ending 1879-80, had average exports worth 88,853 (Rs. 8,88,530) and imports worth 3877 (Rs. 38,770). Exports varied from 24,249 (Rs. 2,42,490) in 1874-75 to 135,717 (Rs. 13,57,170) in 1877-78, and imports from 1540 (Rs. 15,400) in 1878-79 to 6420 (Rs. 64,200) in 1875-76.[The details are: Exports, 1874-75 24,249 (Rs. 2,42,490), 1875-76 123,526 (Re. 12,35,260), 1876-77 127,457 (Rs. 12,74,570), 1877-78 135,717 (Rs. 13,57,170), 1878-79 33,317 (Rs. 3,33,170); Imports, 1874-75 3652 (Rs. 36,520), 1875-76 6420 (Rs. 64,200), 1876-77 4124 (Rs. 41,240), 1877-78 3648 (Rs. 36,480), 1878-79 1540 (Rs. 15,400).] Ghodbandar has been supposed to be Ptolemy's Hippokura. But Ghodegaon in Kolaba, which stands on one of the Deccan trade routes and like Ptolemy's Hippokura lies to the south of Simulla or Chaul, is perhaps a better identification. Ghodbandar, then under the Portuguese, is noticed in 1672 as successfully resisting an attack by Shivaji. [Grant Duff, 113.] In 1675 Fryer calls it Grebondel and describes it as a large neat built town of Martin Alfonso's, and at top of all his house, fort and church, of as stately architecture as India can afford, he being the richest Son on this side Goa. [New Account, 74. Fryer adds, ' Here we are land-locked by the gut which is fabled to be made by Alexander.' Alexander or Sikandar, the king Arthur of the Musalmans, is probably, as at Elephanta, a Muhammadan translation of the Hindu Pandav. Fryer's gut, or passage, a basalt dyke that runs nearly across the creek about two miles above Ghodbandar is still known to the people as the Pandav's Wall (Mr. G. L. Gibson). Ghodbandar seems to be the place which Pages described as the remains of a monument which showed the limits of Alexander's conquests. Quoted in Tieffenthaler's Description Historique et Geographique de l'lnde, I. 410.] In 1695 it is described as a hill whose slopes were covered with houses and on whose top was the palace of the lord of the village. [Gemelli Careri in Churchill, IV. 193. ] In April 1737 the Marathas took Ghodbandar and put the Portuguese garrison to the sword. [Bombay Quarterly Review, III. 273.] Fifty years later, Hove the Polish traveller described it as a strong fort at the river entrance, which had been neglected by the Marathas during their possession of the island and suffered to decay by the Bombay Government as it did not bring any immediate income. The village had 600 families chiefly fishers. The river was full of alligators. [Hove's Tours, 14.]

The chief object of interest is the Collector's residence on a wooded knoll about a quarter of a mile south-west of the landing place. It is reached by a broad flight of stone steps, and commands a beautiful view. To the east the Bassein creek winds among picturesque ranges of forest-clad hills, and to the west, across a flat of rice fields and salt-marsh, are the palm groves of Bassein and the sea beyond. The building is large and handsome, nearly in the form of a church with a nave leading to a circular chancel, covered with a high cupola or dome and surrounded by a veranda. The whole is arched with stone and very strong. [Heber's Journal, II. 188. In 1825 when Bishop Heber visited Ghodbandar, the house was used as an occasional residence of the Governor of Bombay.] It was a Portuguese church dedicated to St. John. [The buildings of Ghodbandar are said (1803) to include a Portuguese fort and monastery, and a large church dedicated to St. John. Macleod's MS. Account of Salsette: Nairne, 60. In 1859 the Collector, Mr. Morgan, reported that the building did not appear to have been used as a church since the island came into British possession in 1774-5. According to Mr. Morgan the cause of its disuse as a church was the decrease in the Roman Catholic community, who in 1859 numbered only forty-five souls and were unable to support a priest. The building was supplied with doors and windows and otherwise repaired in 1823. Collector's Records, 1859.] According to the local tale, its dome and some other Saracenic features are due to the power of a Musalman saint who lies buried near and who all but succeeded in turning the church into a mosque. [Or. Chris. Spec. X. 338.] On another hill a couple of hundred yards west of the house are the remains of the Portuguese fort, and below it are the ruins of the cloister of a large monastery. There are two English tombs without inscriptions and a third with an inscription near the foot of the staircase. [The tomb bears the inscription, ' Sacred to the memory of Catherine Eliza, infant daughter of Capt. P. Saunderson, 15th Regiment, Bombay Native Infantry, who departed this life 13th October 1834, aged three months and ten days.] The rest-house on the shore, close to the landing place, has accommodation for over fifty travellers. It was built in 1828 by Mr. Navroji Jamsetji Vadia, the Parsi head boat-builder of Bombay. [Mr. B. B. Patel.] Another rest-house at Ghodbandar was built by Karamsi Ranmal, the same who made the steps leading to the Great Cave at Elephanta.