Just got invited on a Mumbai heritage walk by Raconteur Tours (disclaimer!), thanks to traveler friend Snigdha. Snigdha and me have been on a number of Mumbai exploration trips in last few months. Both of us felt that despite traveling a lot elsewhere, we were clueless about our own city. So what better way to spend a Saturday morning than a heritage walk?

We started opposite the Victoria Terminus which is now named Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) with a delicious Aaram vada paav 🙂

Vada Pav, Mumbai

Vada Pav @ Aarams, opposite CST – Good stuff!

The tour was conducted by Viraat Kasliwal, the founder of the Raconteur group. It was amazing to know stories behind iconic structures like CST and Brihanmumbai office building, facing each other. I actually learnt about architectural styles like Sarcenic and Gothic which I so far knew nothing about.

We then headed towards the Flora Fountain aka Hutatma Chowk and on the way I learnt something very interesting: In olden years there was a fort in South Mumbai! The whole fort wall ran down the DN Road and the construction within the walls faced a lot of space constraints.  I used to wonder why bang in middle of posh and spacious South Mumbai there is the squished bazaar area – why wasn’t that area also spacious and well made? Now I know why! Even though they removed the fort walls the construction within remained squished and this was obviously not re-done (there was probably no resource or time for that). This squished area is called Bora Bazaar or ‘Fort’ area.

Mumbai Architecture

Rooftop architecture. The horses are actually the logo of an insurance company who owned the building but now long closed down. The proverb “Written in Stone” even true today

Mumbai Heritage Walk

Founder Virat Kasliwal….Towards Flora Fountain, DN Road

Mumbai Heritage Architecture

Lovely heritage structures

Mumbai Heritage Architecture

There are faces engraved in the structure, its quite funny – never paid attention to that detail before!

The fort had three gates, one of which opened up at Flora Fountain. One could see a nearby church steeple from this gate hence the name ‘Churchgate’ for the area adjoining it (where I live). I have been asked umpteen times where is the Church of ‘Church’gate, now I know the story behind that!

Hutatma Chowk Story

Lamp at Hutatma Chowk is ON 24 hrs to commemorate some social fighters that were killed unjustly. They were demanding a separate state of Maharashtra. They wanted freedom from the Gujaratis who kept eating gaathiyas and khaakhras! 😉 (I’m Gujju) Earlier on Maharashtra & Gujarat were part of one state

I also learnt that the style of buildings I am staying in has the Art Deco architecture – who would have thought that I was staying in arty structure. The BMC has been making the buildings in my area heritage but uptil now I had no idea what all that was about.

Mumbai Heritage Watson Building

Watson Building – a totally dilapidated structure currently, but Mumbai’s first 5 star hotel. Mark Twain stayed here while in Mumbai. Its made of wrought Iron – which hasn’t rusted after so many years in the Mumbai humid weather! As you can see Virat carried a book with olden day photos of the buildings and Mumbai town

 

So definitely worth getting to know more about the heritage stuff in our city – especially if you live in that area. Check out Raconteur Walks to know more about Mumbai – the stories & the history!

I will be writing a lot more about Mumbai cause I have been exploring quite a bit since the last few months. Stay tuned!