Fifteen years ago, Thane city limits ended at the periphery of Ghodbunder Road at Kapurbavdi Junction. At that time, it was difficult to imagine that the land occupied by a clutch of paddy fields and chemical companies around the highway to Gujarat would become the most sought after address not only in Thane, but also all the eastern suburbs.
About eight kilometres from Thane station, Ghodbunder Road, called ‘New Thane’ by many, has developed into an area studded with residential projects, townships providing luxury housing, commercial complexes, world-class hospitals like Jupiter and Hiranandani, international schools, four malls with multiplexes, restaurants, mega stores and a water park.
“It’s always better living in an area with all the amenities. You can get a larger house for a lower price and you are closer to nature. It only means commuting a bit more, but the tranquillity the area provides is worth it,” said Ashwini Joglekar (31), a resident of Vasant Leela township adjacent to the state highway. “Also, after work, I can pick up groceries from an array of shopping hubs close by.”
This explains why those who were unwilling to pay more than Rs 1,250 per sq ft in 1998 are happy to shell out Rs 6,000 per sq ft today.
“Rickshaws would refuse to ply to Ghodbunder Road… the only Hiranandani they knew was the one in Powai. Taking an overcrowded state transport bus — there was only one every half hour — was asking for too much,” said Sanjay Srivastaava (45), a general manager with German company MERK, who bought a flat at Canosa building, Hiranandani Estate, in 1999.
He came from Parel and preferred Ghodbunder Road to Mira Road for his family of four.
Things were different after the road was redone in 2005. It was concretised with high dividers and well lit. Most housing complexes now have their own buses plying every 10 to 15 minutes to Thane station. Rickshaws are more than pleased to get a fare that amounts to Rs 62 one way, and many others have bought their own transport to traverse the 15-km-long road.
Srivastaava now smiles when he recalls how, years ago, people would mock him by saying he had moved into a “jungle”.
Today, Hiranandani Estate, an all-inclusive township with a hospital, school, clubhouse, play area and tennis court, is only one among the seemingly innumerable projects taken up by well-known developers.
Neelkanth, Lodha, Sheth Developers, Cosmos… The list of realty majors that have made a beeline for Ghodbunder Road goes on and on. Most of them are building luxury townships.
“The idea is to compensate for the time people spend in travelling this far by giving them a good standard of living and all the required facilities. And people are ready to pay for that,” said Satish Navani, proprietor of Monish Properties, a real estate agency.