More than 150 years ago, one of the city’s first sea links — the Mahim Causeway — was built by weaving together the islands of Mumbai with the mainland, and a six-feet-high commemorative stone was laid during the construction.
The stone, dated 1846, is still there, but finding it is a challenge. The stone lies in a corner of a footpath in Mahim, vandalised and neglected, behind layers of posters of movie advertisements and political banners.
City historians have now urged the heritage committee to include the 164-year-old structure in the heritage list and initiate conservation measures urgently.
"This is a very important piece of history. It is like a living page from the city’s history and it should be given all the necessary protection," said Vikas Dilawari, conservation architect and member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC).
"The existence of this priceless plaque was known, but like so much city heritage, it was unfortunately forgotten. The re-discovery of the plaque is important. I am sure the MHCC will take cognisance of this valuable artifact and include it in the heritage list," said city historian Sharada Dwivedi.
The Mahim Causeway was built after 15 people drowned when their boat capsized during their daily commute between Mahim and Bandora (as Bandra was known then), which was a swampy patch.
When the British showed reluctance to fund the project, Lady Jeejeebhoy, wife of the first Indian baronet, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, donated the entire construction cost of around Rs 1,75,000 on the condition that the British would not charge a toll for its use or disturb the Koli community who lived in the area. The Causeway was built between 1842 and 1846.
The Bombay District Gazetteer states that in the 19th century, three causeways were constructed: The first joined Sion with Kurla, the second joined Mahim with Bandra, and the third joined Kurla with Chembur.