Travel Back In Time With Khaki Tours’ Heritage Walks

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khaki tours heritage walks mumbai

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME WITH KHAKI TOURS’ HERITAGE WALKS

Khaki Tours organizes heritage walks and rides across the city. Hunting grounds in Parel, a stepwell wide enough for horses, Mumbai’s first tram, bubonic plague… A trip with Khaki Tours makes history come alive and will leave you more knowledgeable about the city and even slightly awestruck. In addition to the Parel tour, you can explore Banganga, Gamdevi and Bhuleshwar on foot and Fort, Byculla and Bandra in a jeep.

Acharya Donde Marg, Parel, Mumbai 400 012

READ SADIYA UPADE’S STORY

It’s 1874. Mumbai’s first tram has just pulled away from Parel TT towards Colaba. As the horse-drawn carriage trudges ahead, a turn of the head reveals a stepwell, wide enough to accommodate the horses. Remember, it is the age of nobility. Little wonder then that the news of Prince Albert’s arrival a year later has Bombay abuzz, especially the Governor’s House in Parel, which will be hosting the royal party. One of the seven islands, Parel is simultaneously prepping to take the Prince to Pune, and a railway station is being expressly built. As are roads, which will henceforth be called the Kingsway.

Paral as it is colloquially known has been the benefactor of British rule, partly due to Golanji hill, an area that’s rife for hunting. But its steady rise has now been halted by the spread of bubonic plague. What was once the Governor’s House has turned the plague research laboratory, headed by Acacio Viegas and Waldemar Haffkine. With much effort, the duo has succeeded, but Parel has lost favour with the Britishers.

But by now so has England with the natives. There are uprisings taking place throughout the country. Inspired by Gandhiji’s calls for Swadeshi, Babu Genu, a cotton mill worker, lays down his life. Years down the line, a school teacher is instrumental in the formation of the Marathi-speaking state and is crowned the first mayor. The 2km stretch, once called Queensway, has turned Acharya Dhonde Marg. A bust of Genu stands tall on it, opposite the KEM hospital.

Today, of course, the trams have vanished, and so has the stepwell. A bank stands where the latter was, amid dingy shops and faded shop hoardings. Golanji hill is just an array of old houses slowly being turned into high rises. There is so much history here, yet I was unaware of it until I went on a heritage walk with Khaki Tours. As we climbed the stairs for the end of the trip, we came face to face with a piece of history, dating even further back that hides in plain sight. In awe, we kept staring at this 3m monolithic statue of Lord Shiva, unable to move our feet.

 
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