Tag Archives: Matunga

Aurora, Matunga

13 December, 2018
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Facades: Aurora (1942)

Vincent Road, King’s Circle, Matunga.

When Aurora was declared open on 12th March 1942, Matunga’s South Indian residents were relieved. They already had their cultural sabhas and gymkhana but were lacking a cinema. Resident Iyers and Iyengars would have to go to Dadar’s Broadway cinema on Sundays for special screenings of Tamil talkies. So, when Aurora’s doors were first thrown open (thanks to our B. D. Bharucha), Matunga’s residents had even less reason to leave their suburban sanctuary.

i. A Deco Wonderland

Aurora was a stately Art Deco cinema in the Deco wonderland of Matunga. Here in two- storeyed Deco structures like Kanti Mahal at Tejookaya Park, South Indian migrants to the city, experienced the novelty of living in flats, with the toilet attached!

The migrants quickly made Matunga their own South Indian suburb, far away from chaotic and cosmopolitan South Bombay. They established typing and shorthand institutes, messes and restaurants like Sharda Bhavan near Matunga Railway Station.

ii. Udipi + Irani

Have a filter coffee at Sharda Bhavan, which has all the charms of an Udipi restaurant and Irani café and hark back to the 1930s, when its founder Mr. Raghavendra Rao made his way from Udipi to Bombay.

iii. The Bombay Canteen

Drawing on Matunga’s original South Indian flavours of coconut and puli (tamarind), the team at The Bombay Canteen has created a cocktail with housemade coconut syrup and green tea infused tamarind juice. They named it Sikandar, after the spectacular historical picture that was screened at Aurora when it first opened. 

A Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay is a daring collaboration between The Bombay Canteen, Please See and Bombaywalla Historical Works.🍹

This Monday, The Bombay Canteen was crowned India’s Best Restaurant at the Condé Nast Traveller & Himalayan Sparkling Top Restaurant Awards 2018. Whoopee, Whoopee Whoopee!!

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Matunga or Matheran?

12 November, 2016
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Motifs: Ganesh Baug

Plan 214, Matunga.

The locality of Matunga and the hill station of Matheran seem to have more than a bunch of cheeky monkeys in common.

As historian Nikhil Rao has shown, the migrants from South India who quickly populated the newly developed suburb of Matunga in the 1930s imagined Matunga as something of an island through which they could manage the ‘terrifying heterogeneity’ of the wider city. They set up a variety of recreational establishments in the locality such as meeting halls, gymkhanas and messes. As the first batch of residents, they felt Matunga offered an ‘uncontaminated’ environment, in which they could maintain their caste while simultaneously exploring their new status as ‘middle class’.

By the 1860s Bombay’s native elites were busy building and buying bungalows and setting up hotels in Matheran; promoting the hill station as the closest retreat to beat the Bombay heat. Honeymooners were also being wooed into visiting the ‘romantic sanitarium’. In April 1862, Dr Bhawoo Dajee spent a few days in Matheran with his friend Mungoldas Nathobhoy, at the ‘beautiful bungalow’ Nathobhoy had recently bought from Commodore Wellesley.

The inhabitants of both Matunga and Matheran imagined their permanent and seasonal homes as sanctuaries from the bustle of Bombay city life.

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Ladies & solid foods

7 January, 2014
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Furniture: Koolar & Co. (1932)

Furniture: Koolar & Co. (1932)

Noor Mahal, King’s Circle, Matunga East (presently junction of Ambedkar Road and Hormusji Adenwalla Road).

Ladies and solid foods were introduced into restaurants in Bombay at roughly the same time in the late 1800’s. Prior to their inclusion, native women were cooped up at home and hardly partook of the city’s vibrant public culture and an array of cold drinks- lemonade, ices, soda water- dominated the menus of refreshment rooms across the city.

Ms Bombaywalla was dismissed so quickly by the proprietor of Koolar & Co., she thinks it will be another century before a lady and her camera are welcomed into cafes.

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