(P.s. – This is the second part of Mumbai Under The Covers)
Oh, How good it feels to be a local in a foreign location!
But have you ever been a newbie in your own city? Do you know how it feels to wander around in your city just like a tourist, Probably, A ‘No’, right? Well, I suppose these places have in fact been hindered to a tourists’ sight too!
Such was my experience when I typically wandered and loitered around the streets of my own city and was surprised to find what I found!
Scroll down below to ‘Unleash the hidden City Nomad in you’
Afghan Church – India’s First Gothic Church
As an inquisitive mind and an itchy feet ‘steps’ forth to enter the vicinity of the church, I sense a gothic vibe, as the church bell goes by, there is yet utter silence and all I can hear is just the wind caress my hair. In a minute or two a bus comes honking by the adjacent bus stand and as the bus passes away there is another moment of sheer tranquility.
I stroll past the gate and lurk around the plots of dry grass land and in my mind, I indeed spell out ‘Wow! What a beautiful masterpiece’! the Architecture amazes me and I long to have a glimpse of the interiors even more, as I head towards the main door the caretaker dodges me and instructs –“ap photo nahi le sakte” (You can’t take a photo), after spending a few minutes in convincing him; he finally allows me to capture the gothic masterpiece!
Next, let the pictures do the talking
As I bid farewell to this place, a heart in despair tries to convey, ‘Oh, why do we always fail to cherish our heritage properties and other reminiscences from the past?’
Facts from the Past-
- The Afghan Church (aka St. John the Evangelist Church) is a memorial to one of the British Imperialism’s disastrous campaigns to Afghanistan.
- It was during the First Anglo Afghan War -1838 that, an army of around 16,000 British men were annihilated by the Afghan warriors and only one survived, Dr. William Brydon. Since many of the soldiers who died there came from the East India Company’s Bombay Army, the church memorial was constructed in Mumbai (then, Bombay).
- The work on the Church had begun in 1847 and was completed in 1865.
- Architects – Henry Conybeare and Henry Butterfield
- It is considered to be the first Gothic Church of India.
- The cost incurred to construct this Church was Rs.74000 (then; 18th Century!)
- This Church also has memorials which are dedicated to officers who fell in the Second Afghan War (1879 -1880).
Banganga Tank –
A sweet water tank condensed close to the salty sea water origins!
Located in the interiors of the Banganga locality (close to the Walkeshwar area), at first I mistake a different way to reach out to the tank, yet upon confirming the route, a passerby then prompts me and points out the way down the stairs that end to the emerald green waters of the tank.
While the construction surrounding the tank lies poor and the waters to quite an extent contaminated, all I could spot were a series of temples by the steps of the tank, a troop of ducks dipping themselves in & out the water and a few inhabitants washing their clothes and utensils in the water thus, adding nothing much to the beauty of this place.
Unlike the scenic expectations we hope to have when we go on for exploring places, The Banganga Tank, surely holds a history and a legendary revelation that makes us visit this place at least once if not more.
Facts from the Past –
- This ancient tank dates back to 12th century and was constructed in 1127 A. D under the initiative of a minister of Silhara dynasty that ruled Mumbai from 9th to 13th century, Banganga tank and the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and was rebuilt in 1715.
- This structure is one of the holiest sites in Mumbai and one among the few surviving historical spots in the otherwise concrete jungle.
- The water in the tank is regarded as the subsidiary of Holy Ganges, it is considered sacred and is believed to have healing powers.
- The legend goes as such, the water in this tank first sprang up when Lord Rama shot an arrow while resting here during a mission to save his wife Sita from the Demon King Ravana’s abode in Lanka.
- As soon as the arrow was shot, water oozed out from the spot. The water in this tank is regarded as a subsidiary of River Ganges, which actually flows five thousand miles away.
- Thus, the tank derived its name Banganga from two words-Baan (arrow) and Ganga (River Ganges).
- Located just at a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the city, it is still overlooked by many tourists.
- The tank contains sweet water despite the fact being it is located near the sea.
*Essential Information –
- Afghan Church – Bus Nos – 1,103,106,123,125,137,139. Taxis can also take you there.
- Church Timings – (preferably after 4 pm)
- Banganga Tank – It is easily accessible by taxis.
In the journey of gathering some more newbie insights of my very own Mumbai City, I continue to explore and loiter around by the hindered lanes to fetch different stories covering every pocket of my Wanderer tales’ in Mumbai.