The city that never sleeps is teeming with tourist locations that most Mumbaikars have already visited. There are many, however, that forget tourists, even city dwellers are unaware of. Thankfully, Khaki Tours is working on amending that. Bharat Gothoskar, founder of Khaki Tours shares a list of the top four lesser-known attractions in Mumbai that deserve their own tour.
The White God of Bombay Green
Top marks to you if you knew that Horniman Circle Garden is the last remnant of land known as the Bombay Green, which surrounded Bombay Castle. At the center of the green was a cupola under which stood the first-ever British statue in Mumbai, that of Lord Cornwallis. The coolies who worked there had only seen statues or idols of gods. And it wasn’t long before they began worshipping this effigy as the white god. During the 1960s, the statute, which stood inside the Horniman Circle Garden was vandalised and subsequently shifted to the Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla. Even though just the plinth of the statue remains, you can still sight offerings to the ‘white god’.
Bandra’s Freshwater Springs
Located at Bandstand in Bandra, the Bandra Fort’s Portuguese name is Castella de Aguada, meaning the fort at the water point. This water point refers to freshwater springs on Bandra’s shoreline which were used back then by Portuguese ships to replenish drinking water. Even today, a spring still trickles very close to the rocks of Bandstand. It’s now primarily used by dhobis to wash clothes.
The Origin Story of Bollywood’s Holi bashes
Think Holi and images of Bollywood Holi bashes thrown by the Kapoors, the Bachchans and other film industry bigwigs come to mind. But did you know how these colourful parties came to be? Let’s rewind back to Mumbai in the 1920s. The Banganga Tank (pictured above) at Walkeshwar was, and is, Mumbai’s most sacred pilgrimage spot. Many communities built dharamshalas around it for pilgrims. One such dharamshala was built by the Punjabi community, in particular, shopkeepers from Amritsar. These were also used by Punjabi immigrants to Mumbai who came to find work in the nascent film industry during the ’20s. Their Holi celebrations were full of colour, music and thandai and became the genesis of Bollywood Holi bashes.
The God Formed by Solidified Lava
Not many know this but the island of Mumbai was created by a volcanic explosion that took place 66 million years ago. Remnants of the explosion exist around us in the form of solidified lava. For instance, the cuboidal basalt rocks that dot our coast, Andheri’s Gilbert Hill, pillow lava at Parel Hill and more. Among these remnants is a deity in Byculla called Ghodapdeo. The idol is formed of a giant outpouring of solidified lava that is said to have been worshipped since primitive times and is worshipped by Mumbaikars even today.
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Image courtesy Khaki Tours