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Discover Mumbai - The SeriesViews: 226
Feb 18, 2004 6:17 pm re: re: re: Discover Mumbai - The Series - About Colaba!!! (part 1)

Kreative Quest
Thankyou Fu Lalit for the honor of taking this series further and I would like to share some info abt COLABA..... the jaan of MUMBAI!!!

At the southern tip of Bombay is Colaba . It was called the Old Woman's island, before the seven islands were united to form Bombay. Beginning from Regal Cinema, Colaba Causeway is the tourist hub which runs parallel to the Gateway of India. Sidewalk stalls selling fake jewellery, Tee shirts, cheap leather goods and knick-knacks; Bohemian cafes and budget hotels dot this area.

Further down, the stone-and-plaster Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking runs the 2000 strong fleet of Bombay's BEST buses. Adjacent to it is Cusrow Baug -- the Parsi colony where residential accomodation is strictly reserved for members of the community.

Although Gerald Aungier took possession of Colaba and Old Woman's Island in 1675, the development of these areas took a long time. In 1743, Colaba was leased to a Richard Broughton at Rs. 200 per annum; a lease that was renewed in 1764. The area was well-known for the variety of fishes in the nearby waters. The "bombil" (Bombay Duck), rawas, halwa, turtles, crabs, prawns and lobsters, could all be found here. By 1796 Colaba became a cantonment for troops. In Upper Colaba, the southern end of the island, a meteorological observatory was established in 1826. This was on the eastern side of the island. In the same year, a mental asylum was constructed on the western side.

With the completion of the Colaba Causeway in 1838, these remaining two islands were joined to the others. The price of land escalated and Colaba became the centre of commerce with the opening of the Cotton Exchange at Cotton Green in 1844. The Causeway was widened and strengthened in 1861 and again in 1863. It became a separate ward of the Municipality in 1872. Civil constructions in Colaba did not push out the troops. During this period, the Sick Bungalows, now known as INS Ashwini, were built.

~~~~Colaba Bazar~~~~

The Colaba market is immediately identifiable by the sharp smell of vegetables and fresh tropical vegetables. Packed to the hilt with people, cabs, beggars, vendors, the narrow pavements and the din make it almost impossible for you to walk along the road in a straight line.

Transport at this end of town was revolutionised by the introduction of horse-drawn tram-cars in 1873 by Stearns and Kitteredge, who had their offices on the west side of the Causeway where the Electric House now stands. The Prong's lighthouse, at the southern tip of the island, was constructed in 1875.

Also in the same year, the eponymous Sassoon Docks were built on reclaimed land by David Sassoon and the BB & CI Railways established their terminus in Colaba. These developments pushed the indigenous Kolis to the edges of the island, near the Sassoon Docks and to the west. About 90,000 square yards of land were reclaimed on the western shore of Colaba by the City Improvement Trust. The work was opposed by eminent citizens like Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, on the grounds that such a large area of land coming on the market would depress prices. The work was nevertheless carried out and completed in 1905. Land prices did not plummet.

A seafront road along with a raised sea-side promenade (the Parade, named after T. W. Cuffe of the Trust) was completed the following year.

~~~~Sassoon Dock~~~~

Residents of Colaba are familiar with the fishy smell of Sassoon docks which assaults their senses daily. By early morning, most of the little fishing boats are already docked, their bright flags flapping in the breeze. The auction of the day's catch takes place early in the morning around 5:30 am. Bargaining is noisy and mandatory.

~~~~Afghan Church~~~~

The army cantonment is half a kilometre south of Sassoon Dock. As you move in this direction along the Lower Colaba Road, you reach a basalt church with a lofty limestone spire.

This is the church of St. John, the Evangelist, consecrated in 1858, to "honour those who fell by sickness or by sword in the campaign of Sind and Afghanistan." In the earlier days, the Afghan Church, as it came to be called after the First Afghan War of 1838, used to garner a sizeable number of British officers for the Sunday morning sermon.

Work on the Church was completed in 1847 and it was consecrated in 1858. Work on the steeple was concluded in 1865.

~~~~Colaba Fishing Village~~~~

From the Afghan Church, the fishing village is about a kilometre away. You will pass the Dhobi ghat of Colaba and the skyscrapers of Cuffe Parade on the way. Your destination, Koliwada, is at the end of the road, opposite Badhwar Park (a large Railway staff colony).

The fishing village, is akin to the one at Worli seaface. Rows of small houses, stocked with refrigerators and TVs typify this settlement, apart from the PCO booths and the tiny boats beached at the shore towards the north.

I will take the series further by adding on a bit abt the landmarks in COLABA.....


Fa Ruchi.

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