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Powai: A home by the lake

Audrey and Pravin Karkada had been looking for their dream home for two years. They finally found a 3 BHK six months ago and are doing up the interiors so they can move in with their two children, Chris (7) and Josh (3), later this month. The location: Powai. Lina Choudhury-Mahajan reports.

mumbai Updated: Oct 21, 2009 01:09 IST
Lina Choudhury-Mahajan

Audrey and Pravin Karkada had been looking for their dream home for two years. They finally found a 3 BHK six months ago and are doing up the interiors so they can move in with their two children, Chris (7) and Josh (3), later this month. The location: Powai.

“We thought it’s great as it has everything, from schools to shopping and restaurants. The houses are well laid-out, too. We are especially relieved as our son’s school, Bombay Scottish, is a hop, skip and jump away,” said Pravin, who currently lives in a 2 BHK apartment in Marol.

Like the Karkadas, the number of families shifting to Powai is on the rise. And it’s not just because of the real estate that’s booming close to Powai Lake.

Though it’s been growing for a while, thanks to the Hiranandani Gardens township which came up in the early 1980s, Powai has emerged as a hub of sorts for the business process outsourcing industry, complete with supermarkets and food chains.

This has spurred developers to build townships in the area. Mayfair Builders recently came up with two projects on the Powai extension road and Raheja built a township adjacent to Powai, which is still growing.

“Powai has changed so much. It has evolved even more over the last two years, with lots of cafes and restaurants,” said C Gomes, a resident.

In the span of a few months, eateries like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mainland China and Aromas, as well as stores like Crossword and Lifestyle, have all set up shop in Powai. This, in addition to supermarkets like D-Mart, Haiko and Galleria, a shopping centre that also has restaurants like Mocha and Kareem’s.

Jayant Mhaiskar heads Ideal Hospitality, which has partnered with Aromas, the Australian coffee boutique firm that opened in Powai recently. He said: “We looked at several locations, including Bandra, but found Powai had everything we needed. It has a good mix of families, businesses and expatriates — just the clientele we are looking for. Powai is a plush, growing township and we thought it would be perfect to launch our international coffee chain there.”

Already, 400 people walk into the outlet every day, and there are even more on the weekends.

However, with development have come traffic jams and pedestrian congestion. Try making your way through Powai on between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm and chances are that you will take at least half-an-hour to make it across. “It’s impossible to reach any of these shops or parks, let alone the hospital in the evenings. Everything is jam packed,” said Anil Vasavadha, a long-time resident of Powai who has seen the area grow from acres of foliage to the commercial-residential hub it now is. Added Elsie Gabriel, a resident who heads the Young Environmentalist Programme Trust, an NGO in Powai, “Powai is saturated now. The commercialisation and building should stop before it gets suffocating.”

At last count, there were at least six new shops and offices set to open in Powai.

Not a village anymore

Chandivali, located between Saki Naka and Powai, was considered a village till two decades ago. Today, it’s a burgeoning annex of Powai.

Famous for the Chandivali Studio, it is home to several expat families. Builders are vying for space to build luxury homes, what with real estate prices touching Rs 7,000 per sq ft.

“There are shops coming up around us and it is very convenient as it is located just 10 minutes away from Powai’s shopping complexes,” said Cecil Pillai, an expat who recently moved to Saki Vihar Road. One reason why Chandivali is in focus is that it is located just half-an-hour’s drive from the airport.

‘We have all that we need’

When Elsie Gabriel moved to Powai 10 years ago, it was “a self-contained area with wide open spaces”. “We shifted here from Lokhandwala Complex as it was a safe, protected environment with all amenities close by. In the last few years, it has grown substantially,” said Gabriel. The malls and shops, she pointed out, are conveniently located as are schools which her children aged 15 and 7 attend.

Audrey and Pravin Karkada agree. Like most parents, the Karkadas’ priority was finding a good school close by even if they had to shift homes for it. “We’re glad Bombay Scottish is close to our new home. Of course, Powai seems to have everything else too,” said Audrey (35), who is looking to put her second son, aged three, in the same school.

“We looked at many houses, and finally found this one that had everything we wanted — it was spacious, it had shops and supermarkets close by and is equidistant from Mulund and Marol, where my parents and in-laws live,” said Audrey.