Insider’s guide to… Kalbadevi

  • As told to Nidhi Choksi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2016 15:16 IST
The Swadeshi Market ahead of the Kalbadevi Temple is one of the oldest cloth market in the city and was instrumental during the Swadeshi freedom struggle as it promoted the use of khadi. It now houses textile shops. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

It’s 9.30am when Anita Rane-Kothare takes us for a walk in Kalbadevi, from Metro Cinema to Bhuleshwar, Fort. The head of department of Ancient Indian Culture, St Xavier’s College, spent her childhood here. “I used to love walking around these narrow, interconnected lanes,” she says.

The area gets it name from a temple of goddess Kalbadevi. It is also believed that the temple was actually built in Mahim, but was relocated by the British government to lay a tramline in Mahim. The original structure was demolished and the government financed the construction of the present structure.

A hotspot for cloth trade in the early 1900s, Kalbadevi is today known for its vessels, trophies and cycles shops.

Did you know?

>> The area is has a mix of Gothic and Indian architecture. The buildings sport arched corridors and arches on the window frames. One can see flora and fauna native to the Indian subcontinent carved on the arches.

Jer Mahal, now a heritage site, was built in the 18th century, and is the oldest apartment building in the area. It has stain glass windows and it was meant for the rich locals. It marks the Indianisation of architecture. Now, it operates as a hotel for people to stay. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

>> The Kalbadevi stretch houses a number of old book shops for used and new books. For instance, the New and Secondhand Bookshop was founded in 1905 and was the oldest store in the area. Unfortunately, it no longer functions.

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Edward Cinema, a crumbling theatre in today’s time, was originally built for the locals while Metro cinema was meant for the upper class section of the society. It has a time ball (an obsolete time-signalling device that consists of a large, painted wooden or metal ball that would enable navigators aboard ships, offshore to verify the setting of their marine chronometers) on top to mark its presence. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

>> Picket Road, a street in the vicinity, was originally known as RS Sapre Road, and was named after the man who first opened a typing business here. Even today, one finds shops that house functioning typewriters. You can get a document typed in the old-school typewriter print.

The Ram Mandir, another temple in the vicinity, is witness to an important plot twist in the freedom struggle. It was in this temple that the Chapekar brothers — Damodar, Balkrishna and Vasudeo — the Indian revolutionaries who assassinated WC Rand, the British plague commissioner of Pune, took refuge in before the police arrensted them. The brothers were subsequently awarded the death penalty by the British Government. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

>> Dawa Bazar, located near Crawford Market, is a popular lane for wholesale homeopathic, allopathic, and ayurveda medicines, as well as medical equipment.

Also read: Insider’s guide to... St Xavier’s College

Bhangwadi, further ahead of the Round Building, sees Hindu architecture with an enormous elephant mounted at the entrance. It is possibly called so because of the Shiv temple built inside the settlement. The name could also have originated from bhang (opium) as the Parsis community resided in the wadi and traded in bhang or opium with China from here. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

>> The Tamba Katta lane in the area is popular for selling copper and steel vessels. Earlier, people would sell their old vessels in exchange of new ones. The lane also housed, what the residents called a Pydhonie well — which literally translates to washing ones feet. Travellers to Mumbai would wash their feet after a long day’s journey and then enter the city.

Cultural influences: The Dwarkadish Haveli is the oldest temple for Lord Krishna in south Mumbai. It was established in 1875 and sees stucco art in its architecture with terracotta and wooden sculptors added to the structure. The lady angels mounted on pillars inside shows the impact of Christian art on Hindu architecture. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

>> The Lawyer’s Chamber at RS Sapre Road earlier had lawyers residing due to the proximity of Small Causes Court and High Court. Now, it only houses offices.


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