Inside the heart of Mumbai

Updated: Oct 22, 2019, 09:30 IST | Debjani Paul | Mumbai

A walking tour will reveal unique stories and rare anecdotes from the corners of Mahim and Dadar

Light of Bharat, Dadar
Light of Bharat, Dadar

We've all studied history in school, learning about larger-than-life figures like Shivaji and Gandhi. But how many of us know the story of our own home, Mumbai? In the everyday chaos, we blindly rush past the buildings and alleyways that hide so many of the city's oldest secrets.

"When we talk about history, we mostly refer to famous figures. Reading is a dying habit, and with it, local knowledge too is fading. Heritage walks are one way to pass on the unique oral history of Mumbai," says Ketan Vaidya, founder of Musafir Walks, which will host its very first historical walk in Mahim and Dadar on Saturday.

Mahim Dargah

The walk begins at the Mahim fishing colony, where accompanying senior journalists and oral historians will offer a background of the kingdom of King Bimbadev. From there, participants will head to Mahim Dargah for a very unusual guided tour. "It won't just be a spiritual visit; we will also discuss the relationship the Dargah has shared with the police over the centuries. It is said that the peer used to help the police solve cases. At first, the local Bhandari community, also called the Bhandari militia used to be the police, which changed to the British police and then to our modern cops today. Over the years, although the police have changed, the relationship hasn't altered much.

Mahim halwa

Vaidya, a former TV journalist, who until recently was city editor for a national newspaper, says his love for Mumbai was born out of all the legwork he did at his old job. "As a journalist, you tend to read and know more about your city. But some things you learn by interacting with people while walking around for stories," he says, adding that Mahim was an obvious first choice because he calls it home.

The guided trail will also stop at the 200-year-old Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwai, where the Mahim halwa was first sold. "It's interesting to see how there are many versions of it across the country, but this is where it originated, and six generations on, the family continues to make it," says Vaidya.

From there, the group will board cabs to Dadar, where they will visit Shivaji Park for some political and cricketing history. They will head on to the Portuguese church (Our Lady of Salvation Church), "which has been standing there for 100 years or so, but has a history going back 400 years."

The tour will finally end with caramel custard and kepsa biryani at the famous Irani cafe, Light of Bharat. "Three generations of the Thackeray family have eaten there, and Bal Thackeray's father, Prabodhankar Thackeray actually christened the eatery," reveals Vaidya.

ON October 26, 8.30 am to 12.30pm
MEETING POINT Gate of fishermen's colony (opposite St Michael's Church), Mahim West.

COST Rs 500 (including taxi transfer and refreshments at Irani café)

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