Bassein, Thana District. Old shell bath
Photographer: Cousens, Henry
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a square trough in the fort of Bassein, Thana District of Maharashtra, taken by Henry Cousens in 1898 for the Archaeological Survey of Western India. Bassein, situated 45 km north of Bombay, is an old fortified Portuguese city which prospered from 1534 to 1739. During this period the town was inhabited by Portuguese nobles who built many churches, convents and houses. In the Progress report for the Archaeological Survey of Western India for the year ending 30th June 1898, Henry Cousens wrote, "A very curious thing in the Bassein fort is the shell bath. This is a small water cistern the whole of the exterior of which is decorated with sea shells set thickly together in cement to form patterns on the surface of the walls. On the front wall, under the steps, are miniature grottoes let in and formed of great masses of rock crystal. The walls were further embellished with coloured China plates fixed at intervals, but these have now been broken away".