Wednesday, 22 April 2015

It's A Pink Shaded Fort - Sewri Fort & Flamingo Watching 2015

It’s always a setback when you look at your weeks schedule and you realize that you can’t do a weekend trek or an overnight trail, due to the work load. (Gaah!)  I was quite disappointed, and annoyed at first but then I started snooping around looking for short trip options and history trail options I came across Birdy Trekkings in a day Sewri Fort and Flamingo Watching listing online, which was marked for the 18th April, 2015. A morning trip that was scheduled to be completed by afternoon. All of a sudden I did not feel as bad anymore! (Yay!). Always wanted to go Flamingo watching since I was a kid, (Those big pink birds, with really long feet and necks? Sign me up please.) and I was finally going to be able too. Also, had not heard a whole lot about Sewri Fort before then (Since, it's located quite close and within the city.) But it does have quite a lot of significance, that you might be surprised to hear.

It started off with me giving Birdy (Birdy Seth) a call and telling him, that I’m coming. Confirm me, mark me down, engrave my name, you’ll see me at the station at 7:00 am for sure. He firmly said okay, and kept the line. I then packed my camera, bottle, goggles, binoculars and cap and waited for Saturday to set off. Soon, came the warm humid morning of the 18th. I caught the train at around 6, to make sure I don’t get late. And was there quite before time.

I took my self for a walk as I waited, around Sewri station exploring the market and silent yet gently buzzing people and streets. Soon, Birdy arrived (Oh, I love his name.) and then came, Kay, George and the others. Soon, we were around 10-12 people all gathered up, ready to hit the road, and walk. We began walking towards the east of the station, all close to each other, like a small family. We soon stopped for tea and chai (Oh, I love morning tea!) and got to know each other a bit better. There were reporters, doctors, frequent travelers, home makers and a lot of other people in the mix. The summer heat was just beginning to settle in as we reached the dock yard, filled with small, big old and rusty ships been worked and looked upon by the locals there. We soon, began to see the Flamingos at a distance.

They are quite majestic birds, with small heads and glorious wings. They have this shade off pinkish white, that will put you at ease and want you to look at them for hours. They seemed to be quite peaceful yet intelligent birds. We walked a bit closer towards the shore, and jumped and tripped our through some mossy stones to reach as close as possible to see them. A beautiful thing I noticed is that they are quite unison in nature, walking and staying together, and taking care of each other. They have beautiful wings, with a shade of black and dark pink. We also spotted, a large (Oh, he seemed like the alpha.) Flamingo. Way way taller and sharper than the others, with a much larger neck and essence about him. We all kept gazing at how beautiful he looked, and how well he walked among the others. Soon, high tide began to hit and we moved, packed our binoculars and cameras, and began to head towards Sewri Fort.

The Sewri Fort was built by the British in 1680, and was one of the 3 forts constructed by them on the eastern shoreline, the other two being Sion Fort and Mazgaon Fort. It is built on a high hill from rocks quarried from its hillside and is surrounded by land on 3 sides; the 4th side is a sheer cliff that drops down into the mangroves. Built for security purposes, the Sewri Fort served as a watchtower and was also the first line of defence in the case of attacks and invasions from the Angrias of Alibaug, the Siddis of Habsan, pirates from Janjira, the Savant from Wadi and the Dhulap from Vijaydurg. As threats from the sea abated, the importance of the Sewri Fort too waned and it got converted into a godown of the Mumbai Port Trust. Not surprisingly, it was in a pretty bad shape when the Maharashtra State’s Department of Archaeology and Museums took over its upkeep and renovation a few years back and classified it as a Grade I structure.

You can see different views from each part of the fort, one facing the Dargah that you need to walk up, to reach the fort. The other facing the sunny Sewri streets, the other facing the shore, where we did catch a glimpse of quite a few Flamingos, that had flown away together due the high tide at the previous point. Its a quite a beautiful fort this, crafted gently with stairs taking you to the upper level, with dark storage rooms, and openings both ways. However, sadly it isn’t maintained and looked after as well, we could see bottles of used liquor and writings of names of lovers from god alone knows which times, covered with other unneeded litter and waste. We did however in the fort also meet two small kittens. They were tiny and kept playing and fighting with each other, they were fun to look and play with. Soon, we had explored the long forgotten and undervalued fort and had decided to head back. The hot summer had began to kick in as we walked back towards the station. Birdy shared some sweets Kay got for him (Love Indian Sweets!), and we reached the station and head back home.

It was a nice trip this. A short yet peaceful one. I loved Birdy and his way of going about things systematically and gently and holding the ship alone, yet firmly together. And there are very few groups I come across, who do it for the love of travelling and backpacking. I understand there is a cost to everything. But Birdy Trekking organized this trip for no cost (Respect!) even though he easily could have. Cause he wanted to promote and encourage traveling and did not incur any cost himself. It was a memorable trip, and I hope to join Birdy and the others who travel regularly with him more often, in the future.

Picture of the Fort & Flamingos (Sewri Fort & Flamingo Watching 2015):

This is Alman (Yes, like Superman! Calm down ladies.) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)                                                                                                                                                               
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Thank You

Alvin Anthony

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