Promenade in Portuguese Quarter 1 ~ Kotachiwadi


When Italian explorer Christopher Columbus quested for the west bound maritime route to India for spice trade, he found the islands in 1492 which he thought was India, but they were, in fact, the Caribbean islands, later called West Indies.

So where is East India?

For the same spice trade purpose, the Dutch arrived in Indonesian Islands by east bound maritime route, then the British, the French, the Portuguese and there existed even East India Company of Northern European countries.

East Indian Companies' trade covered not only India but all these Southeast Asian countries as far as to China.

When I heard of "East Inidian" in Mumbai for the first time, I thought that they were Indians from eastern part of the country such as Bengal, Bihar etc.

No, they are not.

Just step into one of the lanes from nearby busy Girgaon road full of traffic in centre of South Mumbai, where, instead of persistent klaxon's (or horn?) noise, you can hear the children, sounds of daily life, even cats and birds.

A real heritage village life in the heart of metropolis --- Kotachiwadi.

Kotachiwadi resists from rapid transformation of the city, where we see more and more modern buildings and skycrapers. A hiding charm of this "Wadi" (Hamlet/colony) with a dozen of remaining eighteenth century's Portuguese style wooden houses is conserved by efforts of Mumbaikers being conscious of its value --- and is designated a heritage precinct since 1995.

This land called Kotachiwadi was sold to East Indian families in eighteenth century, and has always been belonging to them since that time.

They were not Indians came from eastern part of the country.

East Indians were, or they are, the local families with Christian faith since the city was constituted by seven original islands (and further in the north to Vasai, Thane etc in North Konkan area).

These original habitants, evangilised to Christianity by one of Jesus Christ's apostles Saint Bartholomiew then later baptised as Roman Catholics by the Portuguese in Bombay and its surroundings, took name of East Indian in 1887 under British rule, in order to distinguish them from new Chistian comers to Bombay from other part of India such as Goa and Manglore.

I had a walk in Kotachiwadi one afternoon, watched old buildings, its wooden balconies, beautifully designed window structures, East Indian habitants passing by, children playing in the lanes, appreciated this peaceful village atmosphere.

At the corner of the lane to Girgaon road, I found a Gujarati sweets shop which sold various Falsans and colorful milky sweets, so delicious !

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