Matunga…in 4 Hours

Finally, last Sunday, about 10 of us in a motley group, did a four hours Matunga precinct walk!

The back-story! I did a piece in this column in late October on the history of Matunga and what a possible heritage walk might include. Jehangir challenged me to arrange such a walk and we fixed 23 Dec as the date.  My knowledge being sketchy, I got Ram and Deepa to help!

To digress a little, as we do during walking tours! This year will be the first year when all 52 pieces have been published without any interruption…each week, each Saturday morning, without a break. Whoopee!

So anyway, we gathered at 8:30 AM outside Aurora. I distributed a route map and some information about the institutes we were going to see and then started a running commentary as we walked past the Jain Upashray, Matunga Gujarati Club and Marubai Gaondevi Mandir into Don Bosco, also touching upon the possible origins of the name “Matunga” and a history of how the suburb came to be. At least 5 members of our group were Matunga virgins and I proudly showed them around Don Bosco High School. Fr Edwin then graciously took us to the crypt in the shrine basement and explained its origins and history.

We then spent a few minutes inside Khalsa College and then walked towards the old College Rd behind VJTI. Ram took over, explaining the history of the still standing, non-developed buildings, including the infamous D’Souza building…and the tanks on the VJTI front lawns.

Amit who lives in Mont Blanc was on his morning walk. He asked to join us and then gave us additional information about some of the buildings (e.g. why Band View is called Band View) and pointed out the bats in the trees…if you look up, you see thousands of them, awake, even in the mornings. And given how small Matunga is, he turned out to a close friend’s cousin!

We interrupted a wedding at Palamkote Hall to see old Parsi portraits and then turned back on Adenwala Rd. We stopped to have brun maska with chai at Koolar with a second round of honey brun maska after Ali berated us for not eating as heartily as the Iranis do. And while waiting for the food, we had fun deciphering the cheesy Mountain Dew / Koolar slogans all along the walls, e.g. “Omelette se bhookh mitao, Mountain Dew se pyaas bujhao”.

Deepa joined us in Koolar. At 11.00AM, we then started the BMW-Guggenheim Lab segment of our walk, in the Tamil part of Matunga. While walking towards Asthika Samaj, explaining the significance of Abbas Circulating Library, I ran into the 1961 Bosco batch that was on its own Matunga tour, and was about to end with coffee at Amba Bhavan. Matunga was buzzing!

Deepa’s tour was food based…the nee-payasam and vadai of Asthika Samaj, the coffee of Mysore Concerns, Mahalaxmi’s atta, the indigenous vegetables of Matunga and Mumbai…partly aimed at the foreign tourists who had joined this segment.

Slowly, our original motley group kept shrinking because of the heat and fatigue and we ended the tour around 12:30 PM just before Matunga market.

Last Sunday morning turned out to be so much fun that given the experience gained, I am sure we can do a more concise and comprehensive walking tour of most of the Matunga experience within 3 hours or so…the institutes, the Kutcchi and Gujju parts, the Tamil enclaves, Koolar and the Udipis. Hopefully we will do a few in 2013.

Wishing you a Happy, Prosperous and Terrific 2013!

15 Comments

  • This sure did bring back nostalgic memories.
    I was born and raised in Matunga in the fifties.
    I do my own Matunga walk whenever I visit Bombay.
    Koolar….Don Bosco….VJTI….Five Gardens..Aurora Cinema…..Dr. Dandakar’s Clinic.at Tejokaya park ( I was born there )….Jonette building….( Reita faria, miss world 1966 lived in that building )

    Have a Great New Year…Cheers from Houston, Texas.

  • ashvin shah wrote:

    what about mahalaxmi saree shop and other
    saree shops near station ?

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    Looks like you had an interesting time. Next time round show the spiffy “redeveloped” bldgs. And the best veg market in Bombay

  • The article reminded me of my grandmother who is now no more.I studied at shishuvihar pre primary school and stayed with grandparents.I still remember the tree lined roads,and the Irani restaurant near our house.

  • I would like to join you on your next walk-about. Please let me know when this may happen again. Have a suggestion on the route: start at Sharda Bhavan after coffee, walk past SIWS pre-primary school Just 5 mins away where it started in the 1940s, take the by-lanes to Deodhar Road,Koolar, College Rd to the former Prithviraj Kapoor residence, UDCT and past Khalsa to King’s Circle, down Bhau Daji Rd,, around BIT buildings, Shankara Matham, Bhajana Samaj, Matunga Market and lunch at Rama Nayak.

  • Bhavin, it was fun doing the walk with you!

  • Neelakantan wrote:

    Loved it. I still go around some of these with nostalgia. I was born here and live here too. Would love to join you in your next walk

  • Jayshri Mehta wrote:

    I would love to join you in your next walk,Let me know if possible.

  • Pushpendra Shah wrote:

    Bhavin, I was in Mumbai, just returned yesterday. I lost a couple of days on my travels, otherwise I would have contacted you… I spent some time in with a niece of mine who decided I should do a morning walk with her to see the – I guess she meant the Bollywood actors. I saw the gates, and the walls, and at a couple of spots, I left my calling cards to say that I had called – I am still waiting for those personalities to call me back… I went on the promenade where there were many people doing their morning thing, including yoga. Have enjoyed your piece on this Matunga walk – esp where you take a break to revitalise !

  • Pushpendra Shah wrote:

    Spent time in Bend-Raha aka, Bandra…

  • your article is building so much urge in me that i want to revisit matunga and see thru your views.

  • Srinivasan wrote:

    Thanks for the great writeup. It brings back a lot of memories. Drop me a line if you’d like to catch up sometime!

  • I was brought up at kings circle after I was born and so all childhood memories are linked to matunga, dadar, sion. great job. may like to join you young guys sometime.

  • A.R.Sridhar wrote:

    I just stumbled into this site today. Being born and brought up in Mumbai it was a joy to read the article and reply posts.

    There are so many other things which were part of our life is Matunga — which I want to list for old timers’ recall and in the way of introducing later timers.

    Concerns, Society, Napoo Hall, Napoo Garden, Ruia Collete, Podar College, Matunga Gymkahana, Tennis Club, Sharda Bhawan, Kanara Stores, Mahalakshmi Stores, Brijwas, The Tea Shop (next to it – the name escapes me), Lalwani Stores, National Stores, Post Office, Giri Store, KTC, Sugar Cane Juice Stores, Flour Mills, Jaya Lakshmi Stores, Wedding Hall behind Nappoo Hall, Thygaraja Sabha, Bhajana Samaj, SIWS School, SIES School, Indan Gymkhana, Basket Ball Tournaments, Shanmukhananda Hall, Mahavir Book Stores, King Circle Garden and playng fo music one evenng each week etc…. I can go on but this should be adequate I suppose…

    It has been a long time but I still consider Matunga my home and I try to visit at least for some time when I visit India once a year. Live is U.S. and India address is chembur.

    Would love to stumble on people from my childhood days here some time in the coming days.

    Not sure how folks are active here.

    Sridhar.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Matunga’s pull is amazing. And it’s changing. So keep visiting each time and keep getting surprise.

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