I am an avid reader and as a kid there was one story that particularly aroused my interests. The book in question was Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carrol. We all know about this book right? An adventure of a little girl who on a boring day follows a rabbit through a hole and lands up in a different world of fantasies.
Published in 1865, the timeless classic still has a mass fan following among the kids and adults. The way the story narration proceeds makes this an endearing story of all times.
My Alice in Wonderland Moment
It all began when I was researching for my next blog post. I was going through the Lonely Planet Travel Guide, when I came across an entry about Khotachi Wadi (Khot’s Village). This was designated as a heritage village, but I had not heard of this place.
A google search revealed that this was a old settlement build in the 18th century. The pictures were so endearing, that I decided to pay a visit at the next available opportunity. The opportunity came 3 months later when I had an off from work. It was 26th January 2020, when India was celebrating its Republic Day. After the flag hoisting ceremony in my area, I set off to locate this place of bygone era.
Khotachi Wadi is located in the Girgaum Chowpatty area. You can get down at Marine Lines or Charni Road and take a cab from the western side. If you decide to walk, then you need to reach Girgaum Chowpatty first. There you’ll find a statue of constable Tukaram Ombale who lost his life while capturing Ajmal Kasab alive when 2008 Mumbai terror attacks took place.
Prerna Sthal (A place of Inspiration) – A tribute to the brave heart constable, Tukaram Ombale, who sacrificed his life while capturing Ajmal Kasab during the infamous 26/11 terror attacks of Mumbai. This was the spot where he laid down his life.
Once you are here, cross the road to the opposite end (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road I guess was the name. Its the road right opposite the statue). Keep walking and you’ll soon come across the railway bridge (Kennedy Bridge). Cross this bridge and keep moving until you come to an intersection. Keep on the right hand side of the road and look straight ahead. You will find a board to JSS Road (Jagannath Shankar Seth Road). Enter this lane and take a right and continue walking. Don’t make any turns. Its a straight walk. After about 5 mins, you’ll come to another intersection with St Theresa’s church to your right. Continue walking straight ahead and in another 5 mins you’ll be at your destination. There is a board mentioning the lane name. This board is quite easy to miss so don’t be too fast
Khotachi Wadi – A glimpse in to the bygone era.
Khotachi Wadi was founded in the late 18th century by Khot, a Pathare prabhu (one of the Hindu communities in Mumbai) 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. Houses are made of wood, with a large open front verandah, a back courtyard and an external staircase to access the top bedroom. Houses generally conform to the old-Portuguese style architecture.
Once you enter the lane, a sense of tranquil engulfs you. I now completely understand how Alice must have felt slipping through the rabbit hole and waking up to a different world together. Mind you, this is one of the most busiest areas of Mumbai, with vehicles zipping past on the main road. But once you are in, you find peace all round.
It was around 4 pm when I visited. Since it was a Sunday, the lanes were practically empty making for a leisure stroll. Needless to say it was a magical journey. With houses at both ends of the lane, you would feel as if you have come to a different world altogether.
Its so sad that these heritage structures are fast being pulled down to make way for sky scrapers. Out of the total 68, this is all that remains. And who knows, we might loose the remaining ones too to make way for the modernisation of the city (as I write this metro line construction is going on in full swing near by.)
Do visit this place before it vanishes altogether. Leave your comments and feedbacks on this post
Until next time – Good bye and have a nice day.