“I need not dilate on the urgent necessity in the interest of our work of removing temples, where necessary, otherwise than by force. In laying out schemes I exclude every religious edifice that I can. But in the case of Hindoo temples it is not possible to exclude all, for they are sprinkled over the City like pepper out of a castor. And if our schemes are not to suffer, we must treat each case liberally”.
Proceedings of the Trustees for the Improvement of the City of Bombay, Special Meeting, 15 January 1907, T.R. 11
On this week’s festival of Maha Shivratri, devotees annually offer prayers in Mumbai’s oldest temple dedicated to Shiva, the Nageshwar Mandir at Sardar Vallabbhai Patel (SVP) Marg. Popularly known as the “Gol Deval”, few who circle around its swayambhu (self-manifested) ling are aware of how this “Round Temple” came to be in the middle of a busy main road. Known before 1955 as Sandhurst Road, this arterial avenue was named after the Governor who tackled the outbreak of bubonic plague in western India in 1896. Lord Sandhurst created the Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) in 1898 to immunise the city in the wake of the epidemic, arming it with draconian powers of acquisition, demolition and redevelopment, to unclog the city’s arteries and increase its circulation by redeveloping its slums, swamps and streets.
‘‘आपले काम सुरळीत पार पडायचे असेल, तर आवश्यक वाटेल तिथे आणि गरज भासल्यास बळाचा वापर करून मंदिरे हटविणे अत्यंत निकडीचे आहे. या आवश्यकतेवर मी आणखी उहापोह करण्याची गरज नाही. मी एखादी योजना आखताना कोणत्याही धार्मिक स्थळाची जागा त्यातून वगळतो. परंतु हिंदू मंदिरांच्या बाबतीत, सर्व स्थळे वगळणे शक्य नाही, कारण ती शहरभर गवतासारखी पसरलेली आहेत. आपल्या योजनांना बाधा यायला नको असेल, तर आपण यातील प्रत्येक स्थळाचा स्वतंत्रपणे विचार करायला हवा.’’
‘मुंबई शहर सुधारणा विश्वस्त संस्थे’च्या (द बॉम्बे सिटी इम्प्रुव्हमेंट ट्रस्ट) विशेष बैठकीच्या कामकाजातून, १५ जानेवारी १९०७, टी.आर.११.
सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल (एसव्हीपी) मार्गावरील नागेश्वर मंदिर हे मुंबईतील सर्वांत जुने शंकराचे देऊळ आहे. दर वर्षी महाशिवरात्रीच्या सप्ताहात भक्तमंडळी इथे येऊन प्रार्थना करतात. ‘गोल देऊळ’ या नावाने प्रसिद्ध असलेल्या या मंदिरात स्वयंभू शिवलिंगाभोवती प्रदक्षिणा घालणाऱ्या फारच थोड्या लोकांना हे मंदिर गर्दीच्या या मुख्य रस्त्यावर कसे उभे राहिले याची माहिती असेल. १९५५ पूर्वी सँडहर्स्ट रोड या नावाने हा वर्दळीचा रस्ता ओळखला जायचा. पश्चिम भारतात १८९६ साली आलेल्या प्लेगच्या साथीला सरकारच्या वतीने हाताळणाऱ्या गव्हर्नर सँडहर्स्टवरून हे नाव देण्यात आले होते. लॉर्ड सँडहर्स्ट यांनी या साथीच्या पार्श्वभूमीवर १८९८ साली शहराचे निर्जंतणुकीकरण करण्यासाठी बॉम्बे इम्प्रुव्हमेंट ट्रस्टची (बीआयटी) स्थापना केली. शहराच्या वाहतूक मार्गांमध्ये मोकळीक आणण्यासाठी व झोपडपट्ट्या, दलदलीची ठिकाणे, रस्ते यांचा पुनर्विकास करून हे मार्ग अधिक प्रवाही करण्यासाठी या विश्वस्त संस्थेला अधिग्रहण, पाडकाम व पुनर्विकासाचे राक्षसी अधिकार देण्यात आले.
This new book by American journalist and writer Daniel Brook is an essential addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in how cities like Mumbai both aspire and attempt to fulfill ambitions of becoming global and modern metropoles. An adventurous narrative of St Petersburg/Leningrad, Shanghai, Bombay/Mumbai and Dubai, embracing more than three hundred years of modern history, Future Cities is a refreshing comparitive account of global cities outside of their nation-states.
Brook romps through the take-off periods of St Petersburg in the 1700-1800s, Shanghai and Mumbai in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and Dubai in the late 20th century, comparing the growth of these custom-built “gateway cities” in Russia, China, India and the Middle East.
These “windows to the world” were purposely created to expose and reform their backward peasant and colonial populations to modernity and globalisation. By contrast with their inland bureaucratic capitals – Moscow, Delhi, and Beijing – these novelties contrived by reforming emperors, merchants, and imperialists created new settlements and lifestyles by importing and imitating the latest “Western” forms of architecture, industry and public life.
Long out of print and unavailable, this is an essential guide to the Maharashtra State Archives, one of India’s richest and best managed repositories of historical documents, located at Elphinstone College in Kala Ghoda. Enjoy and share widely!
ChaloBEST began in January 2011 as a studio-based learning experiment at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) to make public transportation data available over the web, SMS, smartphones, and print media using free and open source software, open geospatial and civic data, and crowd-sourcing by commuters.
Neera Adarkar, ed., The Chawls of Mumbai: Galleries of Life (Gurgaon: imprintOne, 2011)
Can built forms have their own subjectivity? Architects, geographers and urban planners would surely answer this question in the affirmative. By contrast, most historians and social scientists have long viewed all non-human artefacts as “socially constructed”, and the structure and agency of the physical environment has remained weakly conceptualised, even in urban studies.
Given the number of published works on the deindustrialisation of Mumbai and the decline of its textile industry – including an award-winning oral history of mill workersi co-authored by the editor of this new anthology on chawls – it is significant that the most ubiquitous form of working-class housing in the Mumbai had not yet been studied in any depth until nowii. Galleries of Life is a salutary exploration of the history, architecture, culture and politics of chawls which creatively examines the tension between historical nostalgia and contemporary urban change in Mumbai.
Buildings can nurture, constrain, limit and transform those who inhabit or pass through them. Generic typologies mass produced on an industrial scale – apartments, tenements, chawls, skyscrapers and slums – are generative of their peculiar milieus and practices. Like other forms of housing, Mumbai’s iconic chawls are basically physical containers which give shelter and provide shape to social reproduction. But urban housing and the built environment can “act back” on communities and society. Housing as social space can signify a bundle of rights and claims, a locus of legal and property relations, a stage for politics and performance, and a set of resources for survival and mobility.
Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier (New York: Penguin Press, 2011).
The past two decades have seen large cities in North America and Europe decisively rebound from a painful postwar history of technological change and spatial restructuring. Since the 1980s, urban centres throughout the developed world have been built new business districts and gentrified into consumer zones, as educated workers and families returned to cities hollowed out by decades of de-industrialisation, suburban flight, and social upheaval. Urban manufacturing hubs and ports whose fabric was shaped by the production and shipment of goods and commodities were left behind by finance, information and business services in a new global economy centered in cities such as New York, Chicago, London and Paris.
This post-industrial city has since become the archetype for mega-cities across the world, and Edward Glaeser’s The Triumph of the City is a tribute to the endurance of the age-old metropolis and the capacities of its citizens to rebuild spaces and reinvent economies. Weaving historical comparisons with policy discussions and the passion of a committed urbanist, the book is a foray by a respected academic economist into mass market non-fiction. Like Thomas Friedman’s writings on globalisation or Samuel Huntington’s on the clash between the West and Islam, Glaeser’s styles his theories into simple universals. Globalisation works hand-in-hand with urbanisation, therefore the world is “paved, not flat”. Civilisations don’t simply clash, but also exchange goods and transfer ideas through via cities which are “gateways between markets and cultures”.