I’m a Mumbai girl. Even though having being born in Delhi, spent a few years in the coal mining town of Asansol, Mumbai became my home since I was in school. From schooling to college, work and now motherhood, Mumbai has been more than just a city for me.
During my young college days, usually after class or on weekends, I remember spending numerous weekend afternoons taking a stroll at the Colaba Causeway, taking a post-lunch leisurely walk while window-shopping for curios with friends. Then there were days we spent hours at the Jehangir Art Gallery and digging into some piping hot mutton kheema and roti at Café Samovar (which sadly has shut its doors) and browsing through music collections at Rhythm House, followed by movies at Sterling Cinema, Regal or Eros.
Then how could I forget the numerous walks from Churchgate station, walking along Oval Maidan to Dhanraj Mahal for my French language lessons at Alliance Française – I’ve had some wonderful memories of a city I’ve grown up in.
Having studied in a South Mumbai college, and during my initial working days, I’ve spent many leisurely moments walking through the lanes of Colaba, Nariman Point and more – where Mumbai showed me how its history proudly stood the test of time with modernity encroaching into its space.
Thankfully independent bodies such as the Kala Ghoda Association have taken the pains to restore the rich historical heritage of our city and share the knowledge and pride of the city with its people and for tourists alike. I have been to heritage walks in Goa which shows that the popular tourist destination has much more to offer than just its beaches and party spots. The same goes for every city and if we as citizens and as parents can show our future generations about the city, they’re going to grow up respecting their heritage even more.
After a span of several years, my 4-year-old daughter and I got a chance to explore the rich heritage of our city on a Heritage Bus Tour at the Kala Godha Festival 2017. As the bus drove around the picturesque spots of South Mumbai, with Parveen Mistry, a Government Certified Tour Guide she shared interesting snippets about the heritage buildings that we as Mumbaikers sometimes just drive past by seldom thinking about the history that they stand for.
During the bus ride, even I shared my little snippets of memories of college and work days with my daughter who was super excited as she tried to imagine me walking on Marine Drive with a college haversack thrown on my back while enjoying an ice cream on my way to Churchgate station.
A story of a city that started out with a name after Mumba Devi to Bom Bahia (during the Portuguese rule which meant ‘the good bay’) to Bombay (during the British rule) and finally back to its roots – Mumbai in 1995 – the city quietly will showoff its heritage to those who come there.
The breezy evening bus ride took us down the memory lane (quite literally) through the streets of South Mumbai showing off the glorious architecture and history of The Taj Palace Hotel, to Gateway of India. To Dhanraj Mahal, Royal Alfred Sailors Home, National Gallery of Modern Art to Oval Maidan and many other iconic spots.
The next time you’re in Mumbai, apart from the usual beaches, party hubs and malls, why don’t you hop on a bus ride that will make you proud of your country’s rich history and its inspirational people who have left a mark of their own and found their way into our chapters of history. Next time you’re in Mumbai do sign up for a Heritage Walk in the city.
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