Khotachi Wadi- A Portuguese style heritage village in the heart of Mumbai
If you have ever wondered what Mumbai was like before it grew into this bustling metropolis, then visit Khotachi Wadi. This old Portuguese style heritage village is remnant of a time gone by.
Khotachi Wadi, was Gaothan (coastal village). Khot, a Pathare Prabhu (Hindu Brahmin) sold plots of his land to East Indian Christians. This community were the initial residents of this village which was aptly named Khotachi Wadi (the village of Khot). As Mumbai (Bombay then) developed in the 1940s and 1950s, many communities migrated to Mumbai in search of business opportunities. Some moved into Khotachi Wadi and soon the community was a diverse mix of East Indian Christians, Sindhis, Goans, Marwaris and Gujaratis, some of which still reside here today.
We walked through the by lanes off Jaganath Shankar Seth Road, leaving behind the chaos of Girgaum and enter the quaint world of Khotachi Wadi. The narrow winding lanes (no cars can pass through) were flanked by colourful houses, that had large balconies (a luxury in Mumbai) and prominent staircases on the exterior. The walls on the street had unique street art and the street corners were beautifully landscaped.
We walked past renowned fashion designer and a Khotachi Wadi activist, James Ferreria’s house. He is one of the most famous residents of Khotachi Wadi. He has been born and brought up and still lives in these dreamy lanes.
We were told that are three landmarks in this Wadi; the Church, the Club and the Wafer Shop.
We entered Khotach Wadi and the first structure we saw was the Church. Which was built as a gesture of gratitude for protecting the residents during the plague that infected the city in the 19th Century. The Church was rebuilt in 1964.
Diagonally opposite the Church was the Girgaum Catholic Club. This was established in 1894. To this day youngsters ‘hang out’ at this club, play cards, plan and organize activities.
We walked further into the Wadi admiring the architecture, and towards the end of our walk we reached Ideal Wafer house. This over 70years old store was in the heart of Khotach Wadi and to get to there we did have to ask for directions. The shop sold, Indian farsan (dry snacks) mostly spicy and fired. And of course a variety of wafers; fancy some lime or tomato wafers. All their food is prepared in their kitchen adjoining the store into which we took a quick peek and bought some munchies.
With camera full of pictures and our little bags of snacks we navigated out of Khotachi Wadi back to the cacophony of Girgaum, taking with us the colours and serenity of this delightful village.