Malabar Hill

Malabar Hill
—  neighbourhood  —
Malabar Hill
Location of Malabar Hill
in Mumbai and India
Coordinates 18°57′00″N 72°47′42″E / 18.95°N 72.795°E / 18.95; 72.795Coordinates: 18°57′00″N 72°47′42″E / 18.95°N 72.795°E / 18.95; 72.795
Country India
State Maharashtra
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
Priyadarshini Park in Mumbai

Malabar Hill, a hillock in southern Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India is an extremely upmarket residential area, most known for the Walkeshwar Temple which houses the Banganga Tank. Situated at a height of 50 metres (approx. 165 feet), it is the highest point in South Mumbai.

History

The well known and prominent Keyi family of North Malabar in Kerala was founded by Chovvakkaran Moosa[citation needed] in the early 18th Century. He was a strong force in trade and commerce during that time, having powerful links with rulers, kings and countries. He started off his business with the Portuguese, the French, and the British. He owned a large part of Bombay including the area currently known as Malabar Hill and many parts in Chowpatti Beach area. Even today the family has some old shops and buildings in that area. When the British East India Company started creating problems for their business, they had to call a truce with them in order to survive. The Keyis tried everything from funding Tipu Sultan and Pazhassi Raja (the movie just released in India Pazhassi Raja even mentions that the king actually owed money to Chovvakkaran Moosa) in their war with the British at the time. When everything failed, they donated the entire area now known as Malabar Hill to the East India Company to maintain the Keyis' trading rights in the North Malabar area  . Hence the name, Malabar Hill for this Western India prime property.

Malabar Hill, Mumbai. 1850s

Malabar Hill is the location of the Walkeshwar Temple, founded by the Silhara kings. The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese, but rebuilt again in 1715 by Rama Kamath, and by 1860, 10 to 20 other temples were built in the region.[1]

Mountstuart Elphinstone built the first bungalow in Malabar Hill while he was Governor of Bombay, between 1819 and 1827. Following his example, the place soon became a posh locality, as it is today.[1]

Overview

Malabar Point, Bombay, 1865

The Banganga Tank, attached to the Walkeshwar Temple, is the oldest standing structure in Mumbai. Hindu mythology has it that Lord Rama, on his way to Sri Lanka to rescue his kidnapped wife, Sita, felt thirsty and stopped at the location of the Banganga Tank and shot an arrow into the ground. A water fountain erupted and Rama quenched his thirst. It is believed that the very same spring still fills the Banganga tank today. A Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankara, and the Parsi Tower of Silence are two other religious structures in this district. Malabar Hill is the location of the Hanging Gardens of Mumbai, Kamala Nehru Park, and Priyadarshini Park, which is adjacent to the Arabian Sea.

The Hanging Gardens at Malabar Hill (ca. 1905)

The Malabar Hill district is arguably the most exclusive residential area in Mumbai, and home to several business tycoons and film personalities. Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor and the bungalow "Varsha", which is the official residence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra are located here. Houses here are amongst the most expensive in the world. An unhindered view of Back Bay, with the Girgaum Chowpatti beach in the foreground, and the Nariman Point skyline in the background is one of the reasons for the sky-high real estate prices in this district (Rs. 60,000+, or US$ 1200+ per square foot). It is also home to famous Bollywood actors. Buses only started serving this area during WWII.

The former residence of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan is also present here, but is closed to public due to property disputes.[2]

Also of note in the Malabar Hill district, there is a cremation ground that sits near the sea which is home to the samadhi shrines of several famous Indian saints. Notably among them is the samadhi shrine of the guru of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who was Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, as well as the samadhi shrine of his devoted disciple Shri Ranjit Maharaj.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b British Library
  2. ^ Jinnah of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert]
  3. ^ Shri Ranjit Maharaj

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