PLACES OF INTEREST
Kelve Ma'him, north latitude 19° 40' and east longitude 72° 47', a port and the head-quarters of the Mahim sub-division, with, in 1881, a population of 7122, stands about five and a quarter miles west of the Palghar station of the Baroda railway with which it is connected by a good road. The village of Kelve, whose name is almost always joined with Mahim, lies on the other side of a creek about two and a half miles to the south.
The coast is very rocky. A reef, partly dry at low water, stretches for about two miles from the shore, and two miles further is another
patch of rocks covered with about eighteen feet of water. On the coast, in front of the town of Kelve, is a little detached rock fort. [Taylor's Sailing Directory, 372.] In 1634 both the Mahim and Kelve rivers were blocked with sandbanks. In 1881, of 7122 people, 6947 were Hindus, 146 Musalmans, 23 Christians, 5 Jains, and one a Parsi.
The town of Mahim, though well situated, is crowded with gardens and vegetation, and is unhealthy during the greater part of the year. [Municipal Report for 1879-80, 12.] The municipality, which was established in 1857
[Gov. Res. 44 of 1st January 1857.] had, in 1880-81, an income of £289 (Rs. 2896), representing a taxation of about 10d. (6 as. 5 pies) a head. The revenue is chiefly collected from octroi and house and boat taxes. The expenditure, during the same year, amounted to £287 (Rs. 2872), most of which was spent on roads. [Kelve was made a separate municipality in 1866 (Gov. Res. 2104 of 19th October 1866) but abolished in 1874. (Gov. Res. 2642 of 11th September 1874).] The sea trade returns for the five years ending 1878-79 show, for Kelve, average exports worth £3872 and average imports worth £2147. Exports varied from £1106 in 1877-78 to £5285 in 1876-77 and imports from £1225 in 1876-77 to £3131 in 1877-78. In Mahim exports averaged £4972 and imports £2789. Exports varied from £674 in 1875-76 to £7015 in 1878-79 and imports from £1411 in 1876-77 to £4769 in 1874-75. [The details for Kelve are: Exports, 1874-75 £4863, 1875-76 £4209, 1876-77 £5285, 1877-78 £1106, 1878-79 £3896; Imports, 1874-75 £2686, 1875-76 £1385, 1876-77 £1225, 1877-78 £3131, 1878-79 £2309. The details for Mahim are: Exports, 1874-75 £6730, 1875-76 £674, 1876-77 £5424, 1877-78 £4966, 1878-79 £7065; Imports, 1874-75 £4769, 1875-76 £1535, 1876-77 £1411, 1877-78 £3339, 1878-79 £2892.]
Besides the chief local revenue and police offices, Mahim has a post office, a dispensary, and two schools. The public offices, which are built on the standard plan, stand immediately to the east of the fort. They were completed in 1876 at a cost of £4354 (Rs. 43,540). The dispensary, established in 1872, is under the charge of an assistant surgeon, and is supported by a Government grant of £320, a local funds grant of £140, and a municipal grant of £43. The attendance in 1880 was 6774 out-door and 34 in-door patients. Near the dispensary is a rest-house built by Vikaji Mehrji about 1825. The new school house, opposite the public offices, was built at a cost of £751 (Rs. 7510). It has room for 200 boys. In 1882 a tombstone with the inscription 'This grave belongs to Don Francisco Balbora de Magathacus, Knight Fidalgo of the House of His Majesty, and of his wife Guiomar de Siqueira, and of his heirs' was found in the corner of the cocoa-palm garden close to the fort and to the mamlatdar's office. This stone is now in the Collector's garden at Thana. There seem to have been ten or twelve other tombs near where this slab was found, but their stones have been removed.
According to tradition, at the close of the thirteenth century,
Kelve Mahim was taken from its Naik chief by Bhimdev, the chief of Bombay-Mahim. It passed to the Delhi Musalmans about 1350, and from them, perhaps about 1400, to the Gujarat kings who kept
it till it was taken by the Portuguese about 1532. [Nairne's Konkan, 22. A Mahim is mentioned in the sixteenth century (1554) as in direct trade with Arabia, and as exporting fine muslin from Kandahar in the Deccan, Daulatabad and Burhanpur. This is probably the Bombay Mahim. Jour. A. S. Beng. IV. 440, 468; Jour. A. S. Beng. V-2, 461.] In 1612 it was attacked by the Moghals but bravely and successfully defended. In 1624 De la Valle speaks of two towns at Mahim. In 1634 the town is described as about the size of Dahanu, with many orchards and fruit trees and much good water. The fort was equal to Dahanu and Tarapur, and was armed with four brass falcons for shooting stone balls, and had a good store of gunpowder and other ammunition. There was a Portuguese captain, ten Portuguese soldiers, one naik, ten sepoys, one inspector of police, and four constables and a torch-bearer. Close to the fort was a village inhabited by fifty Portuguese families, among whom there were some of noble birth, 150 native Christian families, and 200 slaves who carried arms. [O Chron. de Tis. III. 217-218.] In 1670 Ogilby mentions Quelmain as a Gujarat coast town, called from two villages near the coast, one Kielwe the other Mahi. [Ogilby's Atlas, V. 208, 214.] The fort and village of Maim are mentioned by Gemelli Careri (1695). [Churchill's Voyages, IV. 190.] In 1728 the fort was described as weak and irregular, a very low wall of stone and mud 550 feet long and 250 wide, with three bad bastions looking to sea and four to land. It was guarded by fifteen pieces of ordnance and a garrison of sixty soldiers seven of whom were white. A stockade at some distance was under a captain with thirty men. [O Chron. de Tis. I. 34-35.] In January 1739 it was taken by Chimnaji Appa, after an obstinate defence. [Grant Duff, 241.] In 1750 it is mentioned by Tieffenthaler as a place once under the Portuguese then under the Marathas. [Res. Hist. et Geog. de l'Inde, I. 407.] In 1760 a small fort to the east of Mahim formed a triangle flanked by two five-cornered embrasured bastions, one to the north the other to the east. The Mahim fort was long, and part of it was washed by the waters of the creek. From the road it appeared a broken curtain with nearly ruined bastions. At Kelve a new fort was being built; close by were three deserted towers, a ruined bastion, and a ruined church. [Anquetil Du Perron's Zend Avesta, I. ccclxxxii.] In 1788 Hove calls it Kelne
chiefly inhabited by fishermen. The ruined church was used as a cow-pen. [Hove's Tours, 100.] In 1826 Kelve had 300 houses, a temple, and twenty export-dealers, and Mahim had 1200 houses and a rest-house. [Clunes' Itinerary, 13.]
When surveyed in 1818 Mahim fort was of inconsiderable strength
and size, an enclosure about eighty feet square. The extreme height of the rampart, including a parapet five and a half feet long by three thick, was twenty-eight feet. The principal gateway on the east or land face was covered by a projecting wall three feet thick by about fourteen high. The western face of the fort was washed by the sea, or rather the Mahim creek. On the other three sides was a space enclosed by a wall of loose stones in which were a few huts belonging to the garrison. Stretching across the whole breadth of the fort, and occupying a third of the original enclosure, was a ruined building
for the accommodation of the garrison and stores. The rest of the space was taken up by a neglected well of indifferent water. The fort was so surrounded, to the very foot, by the village and trees that an assailing force could approach unperceived. Of later date than the fort, but of the same height and joined with it, was an hexagonal battery with ten guns. Below the battery was a casemate or bombproof chamber also for ten guns. In 1862 it was in good condition and strongly fortified, the strongest fort south of Daman except Arnala. The fort is now (1881) one of the Collector's district bungalows.
Kelve fort, about two miles south of Mahim fort, when surveyed in 1818, was a series of petty fortifications, consisting of a raised battery on the north bank of the Danda creek or river, and an insulated fort 800 yards to the west, built at the very mouth of the river. The battery, known as Alibag fort, was an irregular pentagon, the longest side not more than forty-seven feet, with a thin parapet wall five and a half feet high with five openings for cannon. Almost the whole inside
was filled by ruinous buildings. The entrance into this work, the platform of which was fourteen feet high, was by a movable ladder. So mouldering was the escarpment that the battery did not seem strong enough to resist even a slight attack. Opposite the battery the river was more than a quarter of a mile broad at spring tides, but was fordable at low water. The fort at the mouth of the river, which is known as Panburuj, lay 800 yards to the west of the battery, and was about the same height and not less ruinous. Cross walls divided it into three parts, the centre, containing a neglected reservoir seventy-three feet by forty-six, and at the ends two projecting batteries, each with five embrasures and a little parapet four feet thick. Over the battery, towards the sea, was another battery raised on planks with a tiled roof and a dwarf parapet mounting seven guns. This battery served to accommodate the garrison and stores. Between the villages of Kelve and Mahim, at a little distance from each other, were a redoubt and battery which were in worse order than the fort and battery at Kelve. Both were destitute of stores, of water, and of the means of defence. As has been noticed in the History chapter the Portuguese found it necessary to line with forts the coast between Mahim and Arnala. In the fifteen miles between Shirgaon, a couple of miles north of Mahim, and Dantivra close to Arnala, there are remains of sixteen forts. Two miles south of Shirgaon was the Mahim fort, half a mile further south the Fudka tower, a mile further the Madla tower, then, after another mile, on the north side of the Danda creek, the Alibag fort, with the Pan tower in the middle of the creek, thoroughly commanding its entrance. On the south side of the Danda creek, in the survey village of Khatale, popularly called Danda, stood the Danda fort. [Danda was formerly a place of consequence. In 1570 it is mentioned as a European port trading with Gujarat (Mirat-i-Ahmadi, 129), and about 1670 it appears in Baldaeus as Dando at the north of the Bijapur kingdom between Agashi and Daman. Orme's Historical Fragments, 144.] Close by is a large ruined building known as kital, a word which Dr. Da Cunha identifies with Quintal, an enclosure or garden, attached to a Quinta or country-house. Fine old
fruit trees and wells support this view. Among the ruins, lies a large stone with a much worn coat of arms. In Danda, towards the sea, was a second fort known as the Tankicha tower. South of Danda every village, Usarni, Mathane, Yedvan, Kore, and Dantivre, had its fort, while, inland, in Virathan, Chatale, and Khatale, lay a second line of fortresses, Bhavangad in Khatale being strongly placed on the top of a hill (see Bhavangad).