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!

13 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.

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