Those not in the know would find it hard to believe that an 18th century neighbourhood of wooden cottages and winding lanes has survived to this date in the heart of a bustling commercial district in South Mumbai.
Khotachiwadi was originally home to over five dozen bungalows with visible Portuguese influences. The houses are characterised by their wooden construction, deep verandahs and balconies, external staircases, wooden screens, mosaic floors and decorative eaves – all liberally covered in swathes of colours. Even though just about a third of the houses survive today, a walk down the lane can instantly take you back in time, at least a few hundred years.
The neighbourhood survives, even if only by tenterhooks, thanks to the activism and awareness initiatives of a handful of local residents and some conservation bodies.
In the midst of redevelopment a city tends to lose a part of its history and specimens of architecture from an era gone by; and sadly a community also loses a way of living that had evolved over generations.
Text and Photos by Kunal Bhatia