Girgaum: The forgotten heart of Mumbai

For many Maharashtrians , Marathi speaking Mumbaikars and even to some extent Punekars , Girgaum has a special place. It is the original “Mumbai” for many, the heart of the city. The place from where the city started growing up north and flourished. I generally don’t miss a chance to visit Girgaum and the occasion this time was a concert at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Girgaum Chowpaty on Thursday March 12th, The  Swar Sadhana Utsav .

Swar Sadhana Utsav , BVB

Swar Sadhana Utsav , BVB

My interest was mainly to attend the Father-Son duo concert of Pt Narayan Bodas and his son Pt Kedar Bodas.

BV Bhavans auditorium

BV Bhavans auditorium

Pt Narayan and Pt Kedar Bodas at BVB

Pt Narayan and Pt Kedar Bodas at BVB

This also gave me a chance to have a foodie trail and a nostalgic walking trail in the area starting from ChurchGate- Metro-Charni Road- Kalbadevi –Opera House –Prarthana Samaj – Girgaum-Chowpaty- upto Walkeshwar. This part of Bombay always reminds me of the old times, the old glory and brings back the nostalgia! The beautiful old bungalows and buildings along the Walkeshwar Road, the intermingled “Wadis” and “Chawls” occupied by the working class , the living quarters of various communities in separated “wadis” . The Gujarati , Malvani , Christian, Marathi , Konkani, Parsis, Muslims all have their own stamp on eateries and places of worship ! The striking heights of ultramodern “Reliance Foundation Hospital” (formerly Harkishandas Narottamdas Hosp) , the tall “Om” building in the midst alongside the dilapidated “Madhavashram” and various chawls of working class , congestion of roads and traffic all together brings out a very heterogeneous picture of the area.

HN - Reliance Foundation Hospital , Girgaum

HN – Reliance Foundation Hospital , Girgaum

Om Building near Girgaum Chowpaty

Om Building near Girgaum Chowpaty

Behind Chowpatty in South Mumbai, lies what many consider a city within a city — Girgaum. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit words giri (hill) and grama (village) referring to its location at the foot of Malabar Hill. ( Note : Girangaon or the village of mills (Giran = Mill in Marathi) was at the centre of Bombay’s evolution into a modern metropolis. Girangaon stretches over a thousand acres — from Byculla to Dadar and from Mahalaxmi to Elphinstone Road.. People often confuse between Girangaon and Girgaum ! ) Once a sparsely populated area filled with coconut plantations and forests of plantain, Girgaum started to populate in the mid-nineteenth century till it became a hub for immigrants moving into Mumbai from other parts of the country. Today the district is home to diverse communities like Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani and East Indians. Christians, Hindus, Parsis and Muslims all have their various places of worship here. Khetwadi, originally an area with a sparse population living off agriculture and plantations, developed in the mid 19th century with the widening of Parel Road and the Girgaum Road (then called the Breach Candy Road). In 1839 Grant Road was completed, leading to a large migration of people into this area. There are a large number of small and big temples in this area. The most well-known is Thakurdwar, built by the ascetic Atmaram Baba who died in 1838. The Kalbadevi temple, dedicated to Kali, was moved to its present site from its original location in Mahim sometime during the rule of the Gujarati Sultans. The Dady Sett Agiary was built in 1783 and the Hormusji Wadia fire temple in 1830. Girgaum is the beginning of Bombay, the heart of the city. It was the town where the original inhabitants of the city lived, where the natives lived while the English stayed in apartments in Fort. In Girgaum you have all of Bombay’s communities. Khotachi is a Christian enclave, Kalbadevi is Gujarati, Nikadwari and Kandewadi are fully Maharashtrian along with Fanaswadi. You can still see traces of the culture and life of the early immigrants but you also see decay. “I hate to see the direction the city is going in, it breaks my heart. I love Bombay. That is why, I guess, I can truly hate it.” —————————————————– References:


About Prasad Bhave

Clinical Scientist / Healthcare Informatics Consultant
This entry was posted in Bombay, Classical Music, Hindustani Classical Music, Indian Classical Music, Mumbai, Travel, Walking Trails and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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