Girgaon Glimpses : Kotachiwadi

Face to Face

Pachva Gulli Right koh !” (fifth lane to the right), the paan-wallah said to me has he buttered his limpid green betel leave with chuna (Edible lime) . Heeding his advices, I walked down the buzzing streets of Girgaon passing decrepit yet beautiful Bombaiya buildings, all built in the 1920s and the 1930s the odd ones in the 1900s or 1940s. With their soiled exteriors and cracking interiors they stood there seeing entire through decades through, making me wonder what sights each of them must have born witness too. To my left a steady torrent flow traffic moved , chaotic yet disciplined just in case a mamu [Bombay slang : traffic-cop] lurked at the next corner or at the next intersection. B.E.S.T bus number 88 in her giant red solid iron avatar flashing SRK’s latest lux ad as she pushed her way through the narrow street followed by some yellow & blacks. I peared into each gulli as I passed hoping to see something new and differrent, I would find women hanging out clothes to dry or an elderly bespectacled gentlemen on his old creaky chair watching the world go by as he read his afternoon newspaper. Casual sights for the casual eye.

Girgaon is an interesting part of Mumbai’s social fabric, part of the old urbanised Bombay so to speak. Interestingly like Old Pune is divided into Peths (burrows), Girgaon is divided into Wadis. These sub-divisional hamlets are signs of local urban Indian town planning.

Wadi’s, or hamlets are distinguished by low rise and high density housing with unique architectural and cultural nuances. Most wadis are organized on the basis of religion or caste. Bhangwadi, Popatwadi, Dabholkarwadi and Khotachiwadi are some of the wadis scattered over Mumbai. Though a part of the urban juggernaut their progress seems to have been on another trajectory. They still retain much of their traditional architecture that informs daily life patterns.
[source : Khotachiwadi.org]

IMG_6485
[Girgaon Road, Mumbai]

This brings me to my destination, one such wadi, Khotachiwadi. I turn right into narrow lanes that marked khotachiwadi and I’m in another world and this time I mean it quiet literally. There is an almost spell bounding change in my environment. From the clutter of multi-storied buildings and the distant shadows of skyscrapers, I now find myself in a goan village, with the architecture and buildings to suit.

Khotachiwadi, typical of any wadi is organized along religion and caste with two communities dominating - the Pathare Prabhu and East Indian Christians. Each has marked Khotachiwadi with their distinct architectural style, festivals,colours and dress.
[source : Khotachiwadi.org]

IMG_6490

I wandered about it’s narrow lanes, exploring what I could and getting a sense of this amazing place. It was too bad I couldn’t make it to the Khotachiwadi festival [read about it here & here & here], not to mention all the glorious food I missed.
Taking everything in, I talk to Charni Road station a few minutes walk nearby. I snack on very Mumbaisque kheema pau (curried mince) and some garam chai before I catch the 6:32 Vihar fast [train] home.

Cycle Sees Red




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20 comments:

Geetanjali said...

I'm still amazed at how much Wikipedia has to offer...and at your enterprising nature that takes you everywhere! :-)

aparna said...

the first picture made me claustrophobic, like the building s were closing up on me. wat if there was an earthquake how wud it collapse???absolutely loved the picture of the house painted yellow.they actually painted it yellow . and to add it all it looks pretty good.
how did u manage to sqeeze ur way into 6.32 virar??????
becoming a mumbaikar eh?????cz virar locals at peak hours test ones surviving skills.and i mean literally. if u live thru it then u can survive anything.

niki yokota said...

nice shots akshay!! love these vivid yellow & red colors pix(*^o^*)

arzan said...

brings back good memories. did a few case studies there in architecture school and love the place.

thanks for the pics and the text.

charu said...

lovelt post and pics, Akshay (as always!:)) were the colors really so bright or do they just seem brighter through your camera eyes?

Suhail said...

If you liked Kotachiwadi, you should now definitely try Sitafalwadi (ensconed somewhere in the under-belly of posh Mazgaon, Mascarenhas Rd) - total Goan feel including uncles sounding Fernandez and D'Souza, and definitely the old stately Kalbadevi, Pydhonie. There are many such areas in Bombay, especially old south Bombay..just ask around, and don't be afraid of meandering off the beaten path.

Btw, where from? And are you totally into photography now(that zig-zag road shot was cool)? Or still figuring out? I have more than a passing interest in it(hv been calling myself amateur for the last 1.5 yrs). You can write to me:kazionline ATCH GHEEMAIL DAWT KAWM. You are bookmarked.

blur said...

bright colors have always had a way with me and the pics are beautiful :)

TTG said...

Great pics as usual. You have been tagged. Come see me.

Viewer said...

Hey I like the bright vibrant colors u have captured :) to good... eye catchy !!!!!!

gawker said...

Superb pictures. I had an aunt who lived in Girgaon like 25 years ago. She had this huge old apartment with all kinds of creepy rooms and hidden nooks. It was good fun. Especially for playing hide n seek.

PK said...

Superb pictures. I can appriciate the problem.Khotachi wadi is soo.. narrow,it's difficult to get entire bldg. in one frame.You could navigate through the labyrinthine maze? amazing!.Pity, you missed excellent Malwani sea food at Anantashram-located 100ft.from the entrance(1st Picture).-PK

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

loved the bicycle against the red wall and the yellow building!

Anonymous said...

Amazing post and exceptional pictures providing a glimpse of old Mumbai. Unfortunately this destined to be wiped of the face of the city very soon with multistorey residential complexes taking their place.

irisomnibus said...

hey man , this stuff is great , its time i undertook more trips into the heart of bangalore.. never know what i might find there... great photos.. though some feel too bright to rely on them to wander those streets in my head.

Anonymous said...

Cool pix gr8!!! i simply love staying in khotachi wadi..i borne and brought up in khotachi wadi i played almost each n every part of khotachi wadi in my childhood!! its simply superb

Divyesh. said...

Kotachiwadi is one place where I wish I'd grown up, not the Mumbai aspect of it, but the PATHARE PRABHU ASPECT TO It.. well, i am around that place lots of times almost.. gr8 pics.

AmolNavalkar said...

My mother parents used to live in Kotachiwadi. They were the Kothares, Pathare Prabhus and were popular.

Amol Navalkar
New York

gaurav said...

is there any CKP group or sanstha ...in girgaum area...any one knows such sanstha of old times...which still exists?

gaurav,dombivli

devashree said...

hello,
i am a final yr. student of architecture doin research on khotachiwadi, girgaum, mumbai. my basic intention is to analyse the village. i hav some drawings of the community bt i need to get the plans( ground flr, 1st flr, roof) of each house of the wadi 4 doin d same. i cud do the documentation myself bt if d drawings r already prepared, i wud save a lot of time and cud directly focus on analysis which is my basic intention. if ne1 cud temme ne source by which i cud get the drawings, it wud b very helpful 4 me. if the drawings r used in my thesis then d credits would be given to the source.
thanks

rakhi said...

akshay, u r amazing, it feels very rejuvenating to go back into memories.although from dahisar, my college waS WILSON..... MY parents from girgao, my best buddies r from girgaon, i have a special attachment with this place, and i m in love with girgao... i used to pray to god , it rains so heavily so that trains services get messed up so that i can spend my time in girgao..... tarag baag cha paani puri waali, to wada pav wala.... amazing.misal paav, piyush...... te raatri che outings..... paavsaat bhijne..... ganpati che te pavitra divas.... i loved that all.... ram mandir.... mind blowing... sunshine bakery..garam garam andyaa chi bhurjii.... central cinema.... i love this place.... i have spent lifes most wonderful moment in this place.... i miss mumbai.... miss mumbaikars, virar locals, traffic jam,love it all.....

thanx,

rakhi