Fort (Mumbai precinct)

Fort (Marathi:फोर्ट)is the business district of Mumbai, India. The area was the heart of the city during the 18th century. The area gets its name from the defensive fort built by the British East India Company around Bombay Castle. The area extends from the docks in the east, to Azad Maidan in the west; Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) in the north to Kala Ghoda in the south.

This area is the heart of the financial area of the city. Institutions such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India and brokerage firms are located in this area.

The British began construction of the fort soon after the British East India Company took over the seven islands of Bombay in 1668. The fort was never invested completely. In 1686 the Siddi of Janjira attacked the fort occupying most of the settlement as also the fort of Mahim. The Company’s forces managed to hold on to a part of the fort while a delegation approached the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb for help. Trading rights were restored with a reprimand and a special term demanding the expulsion of John Child, who had provoked the Siddi. The Siddi’s investiture caused many to leave the fort and the surrounding settlements. The work on the fort however continued till 1716. The fort had three gates, called the Apollo Gate, Church Gate and Bazaar Gate. The castle was surrounded by residences, shops and places of worship. A moat was also built in 1743. An esplanade, level open space along the western fringe of the fort, was maintained for defensive reasons, to provide a clear line of fire. The fort itself was demolished by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay in the 1860s, as serving no purpose. The ramparts were removed, the moat filled in, and the area was significantly re-structured. The business district’s first planned buildings were erected around Elphinstone Circle (now Horniman Circle).

The Fort area was declared protected under regulations of the Maharashtra Government Urban Development Department. An advisory committee now oversees the development, repairs and renovations of structures in the precinct.

Dadabhai Naoroji Road (or D. N. Road) is an important road in Fort area. Siddharth Law College, J. N. Petit Library, Khadi Bhandar are on this road. The sidewalks are filled with vendors selling books, music cassettes, clothes, imported things like audio equipments, camera, musical instruments and calculators etc. Most of these articles are imported from China, and are peculiar because of their poor build quality, low prices and attractive packaging. The side streets from D. N. Road lead to schools, playgrounds, restaurants, cinema houses and other important business houses. This street is famous for its software vendors. Pirated versions of almost all software products are sold here, leading to frequent crackdowns. The vendors operate in a closed network in which they possess a shared stock of software products. The area is famous for its street shopping and the book stalls selling a myriad of books at negligible prices.Surrounded by old buildings the area is beautiful although getting defaced by the multitude of advertising banners.

The postal code for Fort is 400 001.

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