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Home > Discover Mumbai > Sight Seeing > Mumbai > INS Angre

  INS Angre Pays Tribute to Its Namesake  

INS Angre, a shore establishment at the headquarters of the Western Naval Command is getting ready to spruce up for the International Fleet Review. Few are aware of the years of history trapped inside its walls. INS Angre, once a Fortified Bombay Castle (part of it still remains, much of it could not stand against British imperialism), is named after the naval hero Admiral Kanhoji Angre. It is within these walls that the Portuguese built their Manor House over 400 years ago and the British fortified the Bombay Castle a century later. For the first 100 years after the Portuguese handed over Bombay to the British in 1666, the castle was home to 20 governors of Bombay, including Messrs Oxinden, Child and Hornby. The mighty walls of the fort held buccaneers at bay, it crumbled withstanding British imperialism.

Sometime between the two World Wars, the Bombay Castle which had witnessed years of trade and defence activities by the British was handed over to the Royal Indian Navy. These castle barracks were commissioned as HMIS Dalhousie in 1940 and renamed INS Angre September 1951. The establishment has housed the headquarters of the Western Naval Command since 1994.

The Naval Hero - Angre
The Admiral was feared as a pirate by Britishers and worshipped as a local hero by Mumbaiites. Angre who came to power in 1700 has his name deeply engraved on the history of this city and its once existent Fort. The Fort area in Mumbai, with its three gates, the Bazaar Gate, Churchgate and Apollo Gate, was constructed in 1722 to protect the island city of Mumbai from invaders at sea. The invaders were mainly European pirates and patriots like the Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre, who was at the forefront of the fight against the East India Company. He defied alien rulers and plundered their ships at will.

Angre's fame can be traced back to heroics at the Arabian sea, the Andaman & Nicobar islands and the great Marathas of Western India. Yet few are aware of this naval hero and his contributions to Indian soil.

Admiral Angre, had his Naval base just a few miles south of Bombay at Khanderi Underi, from where he controlled the entrance to Bombay harbour and levied taxes on the East India company's ships entering it.

Why was Angre associated with the Andamans? The Marathas had captured the Andaman & Nicobar islands in the early 18th century. The islands formed his naval base from where he frequently captured British, Dutch and Portugese merchant ships. In 1713, he captured the yacht of the British governor of Bombay, releasing it only after obtaining a hefty ransom. Angre remained undefeated by the combined British and Portuguese naval task force, till his death in 1729. In the 17th century, along the Konkan coast, the Maratha Navy gained prominence under the Admiral.

Vijaydurg connections: The sea fort of Vijaydurg was silent witness to the rise and fall of the Maratha naval power. It was one of the three forts along with Sindhudurg and Kulaba, strengthened by Shivaji to counter European activity on the Indian coast between Mumbai and Goa. Vijaydurg grew in fame as a seat of power of Kanhoji Angre, the admiral of the Peshwas. Tulaji Angre, a worthy successor of Kanhoji Angre, was equally formidable, but had to inevitably succumb under British pressure. On February 14, 1756 the fort of Vijaydurg was surrendered leading to the fall of the Maratha navy.

Paying a fitting tribute
The Western Naval Command has taken upon itself the task of restoring the surviving three walls and four bastions of the old fort, repairing their gun-ports to install 30 cannons and have even commissioned a ten-foot bronze statue of Kanhoji Angre in battle gear.

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