The Middle Ground Coastal Battery
is an islet off the coast of Mumbai
. The isle
, situated a few hundred metres away from the Gateway of India
, lies in the Thane Creek
. The islet is actually a piece of hard basalt
rock, emerging from the creek
bed, having an area of a few hundred square metres.
The Middle Ground Coastal Battery was once part of a reef, like the nearby Oyster Rock
. After the setting up of the British East India Company
, the island was fortified in 1682 to curb the sea piracy
in the area. Later a marine police force of Bhandaris
were stationed there to keep an eye on the pirates who used to board ships. The Bhandaris
were chosen for their loyalty, honesty and local knowledge. With their yellow turbans and blue trousers, the police were a formidable sight. After piracy moved to the South China Sea
, about two hundred years ago, the police were disbanded and the Royal Navy
gained control of the rock.
The British added to the fortifications with the use of cannons
and later on three anti-aircraft guns
to protect the harbour from a perceived Japanese
invasion during World War II
. The guns are replaced by more modern anti-aircraft guns, but the deep cylindrical mountings of the old guns still remain.
The island is manned by a staff of eight sailors of the Indian Navy
who keep in touch with the mainland through a wireless
set. Currently the island serves as the saluting base to the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command. The guns are fired... Read More