Girgaon back road, c. 1905
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Girgaon (lit. hill village) gets its name from being located at the foot of Malabar Hill in South Mumbai. The culture in Girgaon is diverse and varied. Like most areas of cosmopolitan Mumbai, residents span diverse languages, religions, traditions, festivals, and attire. Girgaon occupies prime residential real estate due to increasing demand just because of its prominent location in South Mumbai. Of the seven original islands of Mumbai city, Girgaon alone has the distinction of being located at the base of hills (Malabar Hills). The Sanskrit term "Giri" stands for hills, whereas the Sanskrit word "gram" denotes a village. Thus, it originally meant a village at the foothill of mountains. A birds' eye view from the top of the vegetation clad Malabar Hills will justify this etymological finding.
Khetwadi, originally an area with a sparse population living off agriculture and plantations, developed in the mid-19th century with the widening of Parel road and the Girgaon road [then called the Breach Candy Road]. In 1839, Grant Road was completed, leading to a large migration of people into this area. Girgaon got its own station much later Charni Road which was opened in the year 1867. Today it has become a hub for diamond traders and wholesalers of almost all the traditional businesses.
There are a large number of temples in this area. The most well-known is Thakurdwar, built by the ascetic Atmaram Baba, who died in 1838. The Kalbadevi temple, dedicated to Kali, was moved to its present site from its original location in Mahim during the rule of the Gujrati sultans. The Dadi Seth Agiary was built in 1783, the Hormusji wadia Fire temple in 1839.
Situated at the south end of Mumbai, Girgaon is now turning into one of the demanding residential and commercial places due to its geographical location.
Each area of Girgaon follows its own customs. Communities like the Marathi-speakers, Gujarati, Konkani, Jains, Marwaris, Christians, and Hindus follow their own customs and rituals. They celebrate different festivals, follow different customs for birth, marriage, death, and other important events. Therefore, while it is easy to sense that Girgaon is different from other societies, it is very difficult to define conclusively what is essentially Girgaon or to see how such a diversity of peoples and cultures can be related to one another.
This is also the area in which Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in great style. The area is filled with crowds when the Ganesh Visarjan is carried out. It is not only about Ganesh Chaturthi. Girgaon also celebrates other festivals with equal zest whether Diwali, Gokulashtami or Makar Sankranti.
Girgaon is further subdivided in small neighborhoods locally called as 'wadis'. There are many such wadis in Girgaon namely- Bhatwadi, Jitekar wadi, Gaiwadi, Kandewadi, Bhutachi wadi, Urankar wadi, Fanas waadi, Pimpal wadi etc. One of these- the Khotachi wadi is very famous for its Portuguese style wooden architecture. It is mainly inhibited by Catholics and Maharashtrian Hindus. These houses are now largely being pulled down to make way for sky scrapers and now number less than half of what it was originally. Nevertheless foreign tourists still throng these narrow lanes of Khotachi wadi as it is one of the very few heritage villages remaining within south Mumbai. Heritage walks are often conducted here by locals and history lovers. Largely, Girgaon also includes the outer areas around it, like Sikka nagar, some parts of Khetwadi,Prarthana samaj, Opera house, C.P. tank, areas around Charni road station and Girgaon chowpatty.
Thakurdwar area in Girgaon is also home to the India tower- the proposed highest building in India. Girgaon has a sizable Parsi population and their religious structures known as Agyaries and Atash Behrams are dotted in and around Giragon. Large parts in Girgaon are also under the Muslim and Christian graveyards and Hindu crematorium near Charni road station and S.K. Patil Udyan popularly known as Japanese garden.
Girgaum is full of old eateries and restaurants frequented by families in Mumbai for generations. Although everyone has their own favorite place for misal and farsan here are three restaurants that encapsulate the variety of cuisine available in the area.
Panishkar: With its original branch in Dadar, locals of Girgaum consider Panshikar one of the best sweet shops in the area. It serves a wide variety of delicious Maharashtrian sweets. The adjoining restaurant also serves up some traditional Marathi dishes like farali missal, sabudana wada and kokam sharbat.
Nityanand Fast Food: serves awesome vegetarian food at reasonable prices. Its authentic paav bhaaji is liked by one and all in Girgaum.
Satkar: at Thakurdwar junction serves varieties of thalis and is famous for its non veg thali. It serves you delicious chicken, mutton, fish and veg thalis which gives you mouth watering experience.
Ideal Mithai: This sweet shop is famous for its potato chiwda, which it calls Ideal Chiwda, and an assortment of Gujarati savoury snacks called farsan.
Golden Star Thali: This old thali place, in Girgaum-Chowpatty, serves authentic Gujarati and Rajasthani food made in ghee.
Anant Ashram an 85-year-old humble eatery or bhojanalaya, was once considered the best place to get Malwani, Maharashtrian and Gomantak food. Apparently you could not have considered yourself a Mumbaiker if you had not eaten there. It recently closed down because of family disputes but still does take-out orders. Residents of Khotachiwadi, who have been eating there for generations, say the neighborhood will not be the same without it.
Samarth Bhojanalaya is famous for its inexpensive but incredible range of authentic Malwani and Marathi food. The place is quite small and seats only a dozen customers at a time. But tables turn quickly as food is served fast and people don’t come here to lounge or talk, they come to eat.
Kolhapuri Chiwda, B. Tambe, Vinay lunch home, Kshudha Shanti are other famous eateries in Girgaon serving Maharashtrian food.
Ganeshotsav is one of the most livingly celebrated Festival in Girgaon. Ganesh Idols like Girgaoncha Maharaja, Girgaocha Raja, are well known for being Ganeshotsav Mandals (Lord Ganesh festival local Group).Despite of various mandals here in girgaum, there's a historic place of Keshavji Naik Chawl where Lokmanya Tilak started First Ganesh Festival in 2013 it will complete its 121 years of celebration, also there is Jitekarwadi Famous for there idols made using unusual materials like soil and fiber, that includes idols made of Dry fruits, marbles, rice grain, etc.