Monday, October 19, 2015

Mumbai’s Khotachi wadi: A Taste of History

The idea of having tea in a private home in Mumbai really didn’t excite us that much. In our minds there were far too many things to see during our short time in the city to ‘waste’ time sipping tea.

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Built between 1884 -93, and home to the municipal govt. offices
Mumbai was a two-day port of call for our cruise ship Oceania’s Nautica as we sailed from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey. We’d opted to fill our first day taking the ship’s eight-hour “Old Bombay” tour to get a taste of the city’s history – not tea.  And as it turned out we got both!

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Food vendor - Mumbai, India
However, when the tour bus deposited us on a congested city street in a bustling retail area where  vendors lined the sidewalks in front of storefronts offering a variety of goods, we saw nothing that looked residential. 

Then our guide set off down a  small nearby lane with her flock, as I thought of us, in tow.  A short walk later we found ourselves in the midst of Mumbai history: Khotachi wadi, one of the city’s few remaining Heritage areas.

While ‘wadi’ in Arabian countries means a dry valley or ravine as in ‘Wadi Rum’ here it means a small community area; one that is said to be associated with farming.  Other Mumbai Heritage wadis include: Fanas (‘jackfruit’) Wadi, Ambra (mango) Wadi and Khet (farm) Wadi.

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Khotachi wadi, left, city of Mumbai view on the right
Tea, it turned out, was being served at the home of James Ferreira, well-known Indian fashion designer whose creations are sold in boutiques throughout the country and worn by Bollywood stars and rich and famous international visitors.

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James Ferreira, well-known Indian fashion designer

Mr. Ferreira, who greeted our group while his assistants refilled our beverage cups and goodie plates,  both lives and has his design studio in the two-story wood-frame structure. It is his family home; one of the original 65 homes in this once-Portuguese enclave. Now, one of the 28 remaining in this compact Heritage area.

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James Ferreira's home, "The Scout" trying out the front porch rocking chair
We were invited to tour both his home and upstairs studio which like the neighboring homes are  wood-frame structures, Indo-Portuguese style with airy verandas and open balconies.  He opens his home to countless groups of visitors to help educate them about the importance of retaining what is left of this small bit of Mumbai history.  He is active in the URBZ, a group working to preserve Heritage Districts within metro areas – and strongly opposing takeovers by developers.

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Cruisers watch a sari demonstration in the James Ferreira design studio
Following a demonstration on the art of wearing a sari, there was time to shop from racks of garments in his studio – but after two weeks of cruise-food it was obvious that most of us weren’t quite built for his luscious creations that are described  as a ‘blend of Western silhouettes with Indian crafts and techniques’.

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Khotachi wadi - a step into history
We are the first to admit we aren’t fans of organized tour groups – we would much rather research a place and set out on our own. But on a cruise with as many new places as we visited on this Magic Carpet Ride through the Far and Middle East, we found that taking organized tours were a great way to get a quick orientation of an area. Often times seeing places we wouldn't have found on our own And, in this case, a most memorable taste of history.

We were off to Oman and othe ports of call in the Middle East after leaving Mumbai and that meant we were heading to a HTA, Heavy Threat Area – something cruise lines take most seriously.

Preparing for danger was a new and different experience, we’ll tell you about it in a future post. Until you return, happy and safe travels to you and yours~

Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday




Khotachiwadi map

38 comments:

  1. We don't like group tours much either but I'm thinking that a visit to Mr.Ferreira's was probably a highlight of your time in Mumbai and gave you a glimpse into a bygone era of one of the city's more privileged families. Your photos of Khotachi wadi and the city skyline highlights the great contrast between the old and new.

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    1. Thanks much for stopping by Anita; glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. Tea in Mr. Ferreira's home was a nice glimpse into a part of Mumbai many don't see. Another reminder to be wary of preconceptions and not rule out events or sights too quickly. Your photos are great.

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    1. Thanks much Donna. I think you would have loved the place.

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  3. What an incredible "home visit"! I often like them because they offer a glimpse in to the culture you wouldn't ordinarily see. This one was very unique and special!

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    1. Exactly right, Irene! We'd have never had that experience had we set out on our own.

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  4. I have never been to these heritage areas, so this post has been an eye opener to me.
    Great pics.

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    1. Thank you Indrani, so glad you enjoyed this one!

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  5. Although not into group tours either I would imagine them to be a good, and quicker, way to see more in a place where you'll not be long.

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    1. Yes, I am still not advocating group tours, but this one was worth its price. Thanks for stopping by Gaelyn.

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  6. We are not much of a fan of group tours either BUT they are a great way to meet people, see a snapshot, and perhaps see things you might not have on your own. It sounds like you had a fascinating visit to Mumbai. Happy travels.

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    1. This one did make me rethink group tours as we learned so much - of course, we lucked out and had a fabulous tour guide as well.

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  7. What a shame if the Wadi area was taken over by developers. Thanks for this glimpse into this historic neighborhood.

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  8. How wonderful to see the historic area and learn about the history.

    The words Heavy Threat Area would be a little scary!

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    1. It was a totally wonderful and unexpected treat! Thanks for stopping by today - sorry I am a bit late in responding!

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  9. I have never been to Mumbai, but I've always pictured it as being very crowded. Your photos make it look almost peaceful. I'm not a fan of guided tours either, but I do think you get to do some things that are hard to set up on your own.

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    1. I am not sure that I would describe Mumbai as 'peaceful' - it took a bit of jostling with each photo to try and get a shot without heads and bodies in it. Thanks for the visit Corinne!

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  10. How lovely, Jackie! With so little time, I probably would thought the same thing but I'm glad you went. Now I can add that to my list of not-to-be-missed experiences whenever I get to Mumbai. Enjoy the rest of your trip, looking forward to experiencing the Middle East thru your eyes.

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    1. Oh Marcia, finally your comments stayed on the blog! So happy to see you here. And I do think you'd love Mumbai, we'd like to return (but prepare yourself for the cost and red tape of the India visa - yikes, on both accounts).

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  11. Hello, it does look like a nice guided tour of Mumbai. The view of the city is much different than I imagined. The tea and visit to the home was lovely too. Thanks for sharing your trip! Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

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    1. Always nice to see your comments here Eileen. Thanks for taking the time to stop by! See you soon at 'your place'!

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  12. I never used to be a fan of organized tours either and when I'm in my home country (US) I still usually prefer to go out on my own. When traveling in foreign countries I have found some tours to be a much more enriched and special experience than I probably would have been able to put together myself.

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    1. We'll still strike out on our own as a preferred means of travel but once in awhile it is nice to hit a good one of an organized tour. Nice to see your comment here Vicki, hope you'll be back!

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  13. When I used to travel with my parents, we always did organized tours (well, the one and only time we went overseas). When I myself had kids, we started doing more independent travel because we figured the people on the group tour didn't want to listen to my kid all the time. Anyways, I've come to prefer it. I like that you had a chance to visit someone's house, although it sounds anything but typical. With an interesting in heritage preservation, I can understand why he'd open his doors to strangers. I also didn't realize that the Portuguese had a presence in India. I cannot wait to hear about prepping for the High Threat Area, although you obviously came through all right, thank goodness.

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    1. Hi Michele, just went to your FB page to tell you that this little comment box has been missing at the bottom of your posts when I read them - obviously others have been able to comment but I couldn't get the little box to show. I've been there reading, just unable to comment. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. I love the architecture of the church on the first photo.

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    1. I also thought it looked like a church, but it turns out to be the municipal building! Pretty amazing, isn't it? Thanks much for the vista - hope to see you again soon.

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  15. Love the 'tea' visit adn it does look like a fascinating place to see

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    1. Margaret, it was an amazing stop - and tea was great! Thanks for the comment! Have a great week ahead.

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  16. Mumbai is one of my favourite places in India and there is so much to see. I was never on a tour trip but was lucky enough to be invited by people I met on the streets or in shops. Such a unique country. Happy that you enjoyed your stay.

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    1. We'd love to return to Mumbai and I am now even more surprised than before we visited at how many travelers who'd been there told us to skip it and visit other cities instead. What didn't they get about this wonderful place?

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  17. Lovely shots. And sipping tea is never a waste! ;-)

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    1. No sipping tea is a wonderful experience but when you have only 8 hours and a huge city to see, it does put the pressure on to 'get going'! We will simply have to return for a longer visit - and sip a bit more tea.

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  18. Unlike you Jackie, this tea granny would have had her hand up for sipping tea anywhere. :-) Not a conventional tea room but fun to try different things and one more life experience to remember.

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    1. Oh Judith, I thought of you and all your lovely blogs about tea and your beautiful china and thought, "hmmm, Judith will take note of this gal's response to tea" and actually I love nothing better than a bit of tea but I was feeling a bit 'driven' to see it all and do it all and I couldn't imagine stopping for both tea and lunch and as it turned out, both were fabulous experiences reminding me again that I need to slow down, I move too fast!

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