Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mumbai Names 4

Another long gap and I am continuing my series on Mumbai names. The history behind the origin of the names of various Mumbai localites. Check out my earlier posts on Mumbai Names 1 , Mumbai Names 2 and Mumbai Names 3.

Antop Hill

In S.T. Sheppard’s book on Bombay place and street names, Rao Bahadur P B Joshi, a city historian says that Antop Hill derived the name from the name of the Hindu or Portuguese owner or proprietor of this hill. It may have been Antoine or Antoba. Thus the hill was Antob’s hill and must have been corrupted to Antop Hill. The Hill was surrounded by salt pans and currently a locality with a lot of construction of building complexes.


This is a corruption of an old name of this locality in Girgaum. Umbar in Marathi is the name for the fig tree and Ali is a lane, so the original area was called Umbrali/Umbarali. It is said that as Ambra in the Sanskrit word for mango, the natives might have changed it to Ambrali or Ambroli. Today, the only relevance to this name is found in Ambroli Church at the corner of Wilson Street near C.P. Tank.


Bhoi’s were one of the recognized castes in Raja Bhimdev’s (A.D. 1300)kingdom. They were palanquin bearers and thus the legacy of their name has been left behind in the locality in which they made their home. Bhoiwada is located in Dadar (East), nearer to Parel.


A lane near my house, knowing what it means in Marathi, I always thought that this lane was named in recent times. But just like today even 100 years ago this lane used to be filled with ‘chikhal’ which is ‘mud’ in Marathi during any heavy rainfall. This was because the storm water drainage here was defective. Chikhalwadi is now called Tukaram Javji Marg and is the lane adjacent to Bhatia hospital and joins Sleater road near Grant Road railway station.

Chira Bazaar

I always wondered why this locality was called Chira Bazaar. S.T. Sheppard enlightened me. Chira in Marathi means flat stones or flagstones (Remember Wada Chirebandi). Thus this area was paved with flat slabs of these stones and was thus called Chira Bazaar. Chira Bazaar is located near Thakurdwar and is populated by jewellery stores.


Dongar in Marathi is hill. Unfortunately, the hill did not survive but the name did. Also mentioned as Dungaree or Dungrey in 17th century English writing, Dongri had a fort which was blown up in 1769 to make way for the new Fort St George. The hill too was leveled as it was considered a menace to the Fort of Bombay in the hands of the enemy. Dongri is located near Umarkhadi.

Kala Chowki

The name came about because of the Police Chowki which is situated at the east end of the road. As this Chowki (Police stations) was dammered (black tar put on it) from the outside, it looked black and thus was called Kala Chowki. This police station still stands in the same place. Kala Chowki is very near Cotton Green station on the harbour line.


This area was named after Madan or Madovo, a well known Mohammedan from Allahabad who settled here for two generations and owned land. Madan was of the ‘julhar’ or the weaver caste and was a weaver by profession. Madanpura is located near Agripada.


This is a generic name for the door of an idol or here a temple. Thakur – Dwar (door) The Thakurdwar temple here is dedicated to Rama and was built before 1836. Thakurdwar is located near Charni Road station.

Nikadwari Lane

This lane is called Nikadwari lane as in the olden days was lined with plants of Nirgundi or Nikadwari (botanical name: vitex negundo) These plants are used for fumigation. This lane is in Girgaum off Khadilkar Road.

Cheetah Camp

This was told to me by my friend CSM-Fanaa who found it out from James who lives in Cheetah Camp near Trombay. No, there were no cheetahs living here but this area are must have been named due to the many crematoriums that existed and still exist in this area. Chitah means pyre in Marathi. It used to be a marshy land before and the people who occupied Cheetah Camp were oustees from the BARC area which was cleared to accommodate BARC personnel.


csm said...

sa - well done indeed.
about time.
guess sonia kicked you into action:-)

Anonymous said...

Most people will not know this and take it for granted as if it was ( the name) for ever. Great site and compilation. will be following.