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Dahanu - A town by the sea
 
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introduction | geography | history | people | economy | heritage
Also read: Dahanu's Environment-Legal History

Dahanu’s historical significance can be traced back to 16th century AD. When the Portuguese had firmly established their dominion on the west coast of India between Daman in North and Karanja in the South, they divided their Thana territories into two divisions viz. Daman and Vasai (also known as Basai by Muslims, Bacaim by Portuguese, Bajipur by Marathas and Bassein by the British), then an important ship building center whereupon Dahanu (then called ‘Danu’) was included in the Daman division along with three other districts -- Sanjan, Tarapur and Mahim.1

Dahanu has also found itself being mentioned in the historical records during the 1634 AD era as celebrated for its images of Nossa Senhorades Augustus, who it is believed to have wrought miracles. Dahanu also finds place in the trade map of the east during the begining of the 18th century.

In November 1738, the Marathas captured the fort of Dahanu, under the leadership of Chimaji Rao Appa and with their successive capture of Mahim, the Portuguese began to lose their control on the western coast of India.

Then around 1817 AD, Dahanu was passed into the hands of the British under the ‘Treaty of Bassein’ with the Peshwas of Pune.

The Dahanu fort has been once described as “The fort, on the north bank of the river at a little distance from its mouth, is of cut-stones and well built. In 1818 the walls, which averaged 38 feet high and 10 feet thick, were in excellent condition, defended by four casemated towers with ruined terraces.”

Dahanu was shown as a port in the list of ports shown in the map in Milburn's Oriental Commerce (1800-1812).2

Dahanu has also been described in 1882 under the title of “Places of Interest in Thane”, as a fort and a seaport. “Dahanuka” also occurs in one of the Nashik cave inscriptions as the name of a town and a river on which Vishwadutta, the son-in-law of Nahapan (100 AD) made a ferry.

Today, the fort houses the Tehsildar's office, a police chowky, a watch tower outpost in one of the bastions, a local jail, a custom's office and a few residential quarters for the police. There is a well within the fort premises, which has been covered up. This area once ruled by its first Maharaja (King) nearly 700 years ago, the heirs of its last Maharaja, H.H. Maharaja Shrimant Yeshwantrao Martandrao Mukne have abandoned their hilltop palace to live in cities.



1: Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (Facsimile Reproduction) Thana. Originally printed in 1882. Volume XIII, Part II, pp. 455.

2: Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (Facsimile Reproduction) Thana. Originally printed in 1882. Volume XIII, Part II, pp. 514.

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