28 August 2011

Kotachiwadi - thwarting its destiny?


Khotachiwadi is a heritage village in GirgaonMumbaiIndia. Houses built are made from the old-Portuguese style architecture.
It was founded in the late 18th century by Khot,a Pathare prabhu, who sold plots of land to local East Indian families. There used to be 65 of these houses, now reduced to 28 as old buildings are being pulled down to make way for new skyscrapers




It was just another usual Sunday morning. Myself and Indro (my photographer buddy), drove down south Mumbai for the customary photostroll. Indro had  been to this one before, and he thought I might like it. By 6 45 am we were at walking distance. We parked the car and walked. We walked as people woke up, a few breakfast stalls selling Idlee, Poha and hot tea. Others splashed water in front of the shops, preparing for another day of business.

I usually read a bit about the place prior to shooting, its a ritual almost. This time, I could see only some photographs. I was expecting to see a small Portuguese village - colorful houses, wall murals, nice jovial people or so I thought. I knew Kotachiwadi, had been declared a heritage village to protect it. I was quiet eager to get some nice vibrant shots.

We spent about 1.5 hours there, no its not as if there was a lot of shoot. We waited for sun to come up, also waited for people to get onto the streets. It was not really what I expected. The place was really small, just about one street with these quaint villas, colorfully painted, almost each of them with a second floor and a lovely wooden staircase going up. But the street almost ended instantly, and it merged into ugly high rises under construction and some chawls. I went up and down the street atleast 4-5 times, searching if I had missed a turn here or there. But no that was it, just about 15 odd houses, some of them crumbling.  I came back relieved to have seen it and bit sad. I have chosen not to have any color shots - black and white reflects my mood, the way it felt.











In 1999, Lamba (a conservatin architect) , and Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, produced the ‘Conservation Guidelines for Khotachiwadi’, for the Mumbai Metropolitan Authority. Till date, not a single guideline has been implemented. Impoverished residents are now selling their homes to builders. “What will follow,” say architects, “is wanton, insensitive development” (Picture postcard destiny?)


Kotachiwadi, and its residents seem to be loosing the battle. There are tall buildings being built all around. It will only be matter of time when the residents, will choose practicality and money over traditions. Or will the collective will of those who care be enough to thwart the destiny? 



21 comments:

magiceye said...

beautiful tribute to this heritage...

mayankpandey said...

thanks my friend. :-) Small and humble contribution.

Zephyr said...

the last photo ironically offset the earlier ones, which are evocative and eerily beautiful. That is the story of development and money power sadly.

Krunal Palande said...

a wonderful series, those old houses takes you back to a time when Mumbai was everything only beyond Dadar. Very Nostalgic.

Krunal Palande said...

and you are welcome to use some of my pics for your blog 'Mumbai Cutting' with due credit of course. Just let me know the images you'd using.

Thanks

Sujatha said...

omg...this is where i was born n grew up!!! the pictures brought loads of memories! for a moment i felt i know all those houses but on second thought may be not. because i lived there from '77 to almost '90. that's a cool 20 plus years back.  will cherish the photos nevertheless. thanks for this post. 

Magali said...

So lovely. The fact that it's B&W makes it even more beautiful.

PK Talli said...

you captured the mood so well... :)

mayankpandey said...

Hi Sujatha - wondering how you reached this post! This place wouldnt have changed too much but for sure lost many houses. So some of this sure must be just as you would have seen it 20 yrs back. Here is hoping it stays this way. Glad you liked the photos.

mayankpandey said...

PK Talli, are you aka Chintan? :-)

mayankpandey said...

Am I being the typical pessimist! Well there is a bit of pessimism in me about this place. Eerily that high rise was also the place i spent maximum time, watching the workers there. 

joshi daniel said...

loved the old feel that you captured!

mayankpandey said...

Daniel - thanks a lot.

PURBA RAY said...

Disgusting isn't it? All we care about is money, heritage can go to hell ! Wiiliam Dalrymple had famously commented that we Indians are in a hurry to move on and don't treasure our history.

Lovely captures and good you kept it in B&W.

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Purba. It is indeed a tough fight and its hard to blame the residents if they choose to give up and move on.

Sujatha said...

i came here thru bloggers FB page

Sudhagee said...

Loved your photoessay. And loved the fact that the pictures were in black and white.

mayankpandey said...

Thank you. Am glad you liked them.

Anonymous said...

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Kaushal said...

Wow can't believe such a quaint area exists in Mumbai.  Too bad that like everything else it too may pass.  Mood well captured - these photos may be very valuable 10 years from now:-)

mayankpandey said...

thanks.

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