Artist: Boyd, George (1800-1850)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of Bassein by George Boyd (1800-1850) dated between 1821 and 1844. This is one of 95 drawings (90 folios), chiefly of landscapes and monuments in the Deccan, West India and Afghanistan made during that period. Boyd served in the Bombay Infantry from 1820 to 1850 and was mainly employed in survey work. From 1822 to 1831 he was in the Deccan and Satara; in 1835 he was on survey in Kathiawar; and in 1839 he was making road surveys in Sind. He was mentioned in dispatches during the war in Afghanistan in 1840 and in 1842 he worked on a survey between Quetta and Kalat.
Bassein or Vasai is situated at the mouth of the Ulhas River in the North Konkan district of Maharashtra, a narrow strip between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. It was originally built by Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, as a one of a chain of forts intended as a defensive measure against the Portuguese who acquired it in 1534 and renamed it Vasai. For the next two hundred years the town thrived largely due to shipbuilding and the export of Bassein stone. At the height of its prosperity the walls of the town contained a cathedral, five convents, 13 churches and the two- storey balconied residents of the Portuguese nobles known as 'hidalgos'. Along with members of the religious orders this European nobility were the only class of people allowed to live in the town. In 1739 the Marathas took Vasai following a siege in which almost the whole of the 800 strong Portuguese garrison was killed. The British expelled the Marathas in 1780 but returned the town to them by the treaty of Salbai three years later.