Khotachiwadi, Where Old Bombay Meets Mumbai

The historic East Indian fishing market in Girgaon, beautifies its bones, a strong signal that the bulldozers aimed at the bungalows have, perhaps, finally bidden farewell.

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The mouth of Khotachiwadi Lane leads visitors to a 19th-century chapel. Photo by: Snehal Jeevan Pailkar/Shutterstock

In an area where structures stretch for a view of Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach, the humble heritage bungalows of an East Indian community often escape the eyeshot of the scuttering public. Ensconced in the shade of skyscrapers, it looks like the Portuguese bones of a Goan village were photo-edited into the heart of Girgaon. Noisy streets are exchanged for lazy lanes and dull frontage opens up to splashes of teal and tangerine; here, in Khotachiwadi, stories are not measured by the size of a building but by how well they preserve the collective memory of the hamlet that has hailed from this hallowed ground since its inception as a fishing settlement in the 18th century.

Sustaining a sense of old Bombay is not uncommon in this slice of the metro, with nearby train stops opening their doors to the preserved patrimony of the past: get off at Grant Road and grab buttery brun maska and mawa cake at B. Merwan & Co (est. 1914) or Charni Road for Bachelorr’s refreshing ice cream and juice (est. 1935). However, once you gallivant down the gullis of Khotachiwadi, an altered sense of architectural accents, from ornate teak balustrades and eaves to pretty petite porches, embody the aura of the area’s longtime bundle of residents like very few other places in Mumbai. Just as these charming homes have long sheltered this community, recent generations have strived to safeguard their locality, through activism, against a deluge of development that has appeared keen to consume it over the last few decades.

 

Read the full feature in the print edition of National Geographic Traveller India January-February 2022.

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

  • Julian Manning can usually be found eating a crisp ghee roast with extra podi. The rare times his hands aren’t busy with food, they are wrapped around a mystery novel or the handlebars of a motorcycle. He is Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.

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