Sites & cities that bear the name of Vasai


Today in : India
First trace of activity : ca. 6th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Mhatre Ilaka, Baxay, Baçaim, Bassein

Description : Vasai (formerly and alternatively Bassein) is a historical place and important city in Mumbai's western suburbs, located in Palghar district. It also forms a part of Vasai-Virar city in the state of Maharashtra in the Konkan division in India. Vasai was in the Thane district prior to 2014. The Portuguese built the Vasai Fort here to strengthen their naval superiority over the Arabian Sea.At the time Vasai was called Bassein.The fort was taken over by the Maratha Army in 1739, ending the Battle of Vasai. The British then took over the territory from the Maratha Empire in 1780 during the First Anglo-Maratha War. As a legacy of Portuguese colonialism, East Indian Catholics form a small minority of the population. The history of Vasai dates back to the ancient Puranic ages. Vasai was a trading ground for many Greek, Arabs, Persian and Roman traders and merchants who would enter through the west coast of India. The Greek merchant Cosma Indicopleustes is known to have visited the areas around Vasai in the 6th century and the Chinese traveller Xuanzang later on June or July 640. According to historian José Gerson da Cunha, during this time, Bassein and its surrounding areas appeared to have been ruled by the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka. Until the 11th century, several Arabian geographers had mentioned references to towns nearby Vasai, like Thana and Sopara, but no references had been made to Vasai. Vasai was later ruled by the Silhara dynasty of Konkan and eventually passed to the Seuna dynasty. It was head of district under the Seuna (1184–1318). Later being conquered by the Gujarat Sultanate, where it was named Basai, a few years later Barbosa (1514) described it under the name Baxay (pronounced Basai) as a town with a good seaport belonging to the King of Gujarat. In 1295, Italian explorer Marco Polo passed through Vasai. Portuguese Era The Portuguese first reached the west coast of India when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut in 1498. According to historian Manuel de Faria e Sousa, the coast of Basai was first visited by the Portuguese in 1509, when Francisco de Almeida on his way to Diu captured a Muslim ship in the harbour of Mumbai, with 24 citizens of the Gujarat Sultanate aboard. To the Portuguese, Basai was an important trading centre located on the Arabian Sea. They saw it as a vital service station that would give them access to global sea routes and goods such as salt, fish, timber and mineral resources. They wanted to build a shipyard to manufacture ships and use the fertile land to grow rice, sugarcane, cotton, betel nuts and other crops to trade globally. The presence of the Portuguese significantly shaped the region into what it is today.

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