For many it is literally, the dark Western suburb notorious for traffic. For others, it is home sweet home
The suburb has always been on the ‘It’ map because of posh places like Lokhandwala, Versova and Yari Road that exist within its limits. But now with the Mumbai Metro connecting the suburb from West to East as well as to its Eastern suburb sibling Ghatkopar, the place has climbed up on the real estate map.
Gilbert Hill stands as a testimony to what Andheri used to be in the lap of nature. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
With a population of around 1,500,000; Andheri is Mumbai’s biggest suburb. Resident Antony Pereira from Marol says, “The Andheri I grew up in during the 1950s and 60s was more like a village.
The Mumbai Metro has helped Andheri and Ghatkopar be better linked. Pic/Nimesh Dave
There were few people and it was like we were one big family. We enjoyed quality of life. The crowded and disconnected suburb that Andheri has grown to be today is something I do not connect to.”
The gap between the two ends of Andheri is slowly and steadily reducing
Agreeing with him, Nanda Panikal, JB Nagar resident says, “From our house we could see the Sahar-Santacruz airports clearly. As a child, I remember that I used to love seeing planes land and take off after school.
As Andheri developed, the buildings have kept getting taller, which has lead to trees being cut down. The trees under which I played as a child have all been cut which makes me sad. Andheri has become more crowded and in a sense the place has lost its beauty and splendor as a nature haven that it was 40 years ago.”
“The fields and creeks have all disappeared to give way to better roads and infrastructure but we have more pollution and never ending traffic jams. The Mumbai Metro is a big blessing, but our roads the less spoken, the better as the entire city dreads Andheri roads and the jams, here,” adds Pereira.
Hospitality professional and Chakala resident Grace Pavaskar says, “The marshy spaces once known as grazing lands in Andheri have now become iconic corporate and residential structures. Andheri has turned into a plush modernised suburb and become the financial and commercial hub of the city.
But this has also meant more pollution and loss of green spaces.” For Versova resident and law student Ankitha Iyer, Lokhandwala is the most happening place when it comes to malls, pubs, cafes and eateries. She says, “One place that is still the same in Andheri is Juhu Beach except that there is tighter security there now than before.
I feel that Andheri is one of the best places to live in Mumbai after South Bombay. The crowd though is very difficult to wade through. Getting off an Andheri local or getting into trains at peak hours is nothing short of war. The traffic is another painful tale with it being practically impossible to reach anywhere in Andheri within 15 minutes unless you decide to go walking.”
“Gibert Hill is perhaps the only natural structure that still remains an icon in Andheri, besides Juhu Beach. Concrete buildings all over are more iconic to people in Andheri than nature’s gifts which is unfortunate. This situation makes me really sad,” says Pereira.
“I feel Andheri will be one of the most sought places with respect to residential apartments in the next few years. With the coming of the metro, real estate prices are going to soar. Andheri will be the city hub in the next 10 years. Living in Andheri will be an envious thing like how living in SoBo and Bandra is now,” feels Iyer.
For Panikal, Andheri has gradually changed and developed but she also sees it becoming a grand suburb in the future. She says, “I see Andheri becoming what Connaught Place is to New Delhi. It will be a beautiful prime property, which is a cosmopolitan centre with people of different cultures and economic backgrounds living here.”
Andheri in Pavaskar’s view has accepted changes as they have come, she says, “It is developing into a posh and plush suburb. In the coming years, if the road and traffic situation improves, living in Andheri will be a status symbol for residents.”
“As a cauldron of different people and cultures, Andheri is developing well. Commercial enterprise and multinational companies plus unreasonable, expensive housing are making Andheri soar on the real estate map. With everything available in Andheri, there is no need to go to Crawford Market or other SoBo markets. But Andheri is already overcrowded. I see it getting worse,” ends Pereira.
It is a bag of mixed emotions when it comes to this Western suburb mayhem and malls, traffic snarls and sought after stature, Andheri is a love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore it suburb.
This is the sixth part of our weekly series on different areas in Mumbai, through the lens of the locals