Did you know Charni Road gets its name from the Hindi word for grazing — charna — after a tract of land here was allocated as pasture for cows? Or that the business hub of Nariman Point, built on reclaimed land, was named after Khurshed Nariman, former mayor and stalwart of the Indian National Congress?
These were among the fun facts revealed to a group of 15 early on Sunday morning, in course of a heritage bicycle tour conducted at the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Sponsored by Neighbourhood Hospitality, with Odati Adventures as travel partners, the event saw a lot of enthusiasm.
“Participants came in as early as 5am, even though registrations were supposed to begin at 6.30am,” said Kruti Garg, curator of the festival’s heritage walks section.
Starting from Woodside Inn, Colaba, the participants rode through quiet lanes in Fort, past a deserted Flora Fountain, and on to Nariman Point and Taj Mahal Palace, as dawn broke slowly.
Among the lucky 15 who were the first to register were friends-turned colleagues, Arin Basu, 30, and Amit Arora, 25, banking executives from Chattisgarh and Delhi respectively. Only a month old in the city, both said the tour was an eye-opener. “We use the station every day, but never knew its history,” said Basu. “We are an enlightened lot today.”
Internet marketer Mehul Shah, 26, travelled from Borivli to reach the venue at 5am. “If I hadn’t made it in time, I would never have learnt, for instance, that the red line at the base of the Asiatic Library steps is a datum line, which once marked mean sea flood levels as a reminder for other constructions in the area.”