Few pockets remain in Mumbai which preserve the native customs of the city before it became the urban behemoth that it is today. Worli Koliwada populated by the Kolis, the original inhabitants of our city, is one such isolated pocket. Rich in age-old customs and traditions that are still preserved and nurtured by the Kolis, the heritage walk on 14th January 2023 with the German consulate gave the visitors an insight into the life within the Worli Koliwada.
The consulate team consisted of twelve members who were guided throughout the Koliwada by a five member G5A team. The participants started assembling at the Sea Corner Hotel from 8.00 am, which was the meeting place for all. The walk started at 8.30 am when the full consulate team had arrived. The first stop was Cleveland Jetty. The G5A team started by explaining the significance of Worli island in the early modern history of Mumbai city, the details of the jetty, and the coast guard office. The team also explained the architectural interventions that G5A is planning to implement at the jetty.
The next destination was the famous Golfadevi Temple where the team was joined by the local resident, Mrs. Preeti Shivdikar. G5A team started by informing the consulate team about the history and significance of the shrine in the daily life of the native inhabitants. Preeti then further explained the cultural and religious importance of the deity for the Kolis of Worli and the annual Jatra or fair which is celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm. Preeti narrated the information in Marathi which the G5A team translated into English for the benefit of the visitors.
Next on the itinerary was the dargah situated in the Koliwada. The consulate team was informed about the history and uniqueness of the dargah which is the only Muslim shrine in the locality and which venerates two women saints instead of men, which is also why women are allowed into the central shrine unlike other dargahs.
The group then proceeded towards Tip jetty while halting at Vetal temple and the Velankani Chappel. At the Vetal temple, G5A team shared with the guests the history and categorization of the deities within the temple, and interesting folk anecdotes associated with the shrine. While at the Velankani chappel they were informed about the significance of the shrine for the catholic inhabitants and how the Jesus image is housed in a traditional Koli fishing boat, which highlights the overlapping of Koli culture over all local things.
The group then headed to the iconic Worli fort where the G5A team started by informing the guests about the background in which the British moved their base from Surat to Bombay islands and how the Worli fort was one of the earliest fortifications erected by them in their new base. The guests were further informed about the fort architecture, how it was a part of the larger defence mechanism on the Mahim bay, and its military history. The G5A team also explained the details of the fort restoration project which it is currently implementing on the site.
The group then proceeded to the house of a local resident, Mr. Bhagyesh Bhaye for breakfast and refreshments. The consulate team was welcomed by the Bhaye’s with Tilgul and Halvyache dane (sugar pops) as it was the Makar Sankranti season. The guests were then served a traditional Maharashtrian platter consisting of Dadpe Pohe, Amboli-chutney, and Puranpoli, which they relished! Throughout this, there was a lively conversation between the consulate team and the Bhaye’s about the local lifestyle, their diet, social customs etc. The team departed from the Bhaye residence with contented bellies and minds.
The concluding destination of the walk was the Chededev Temple. There, the visitors were briefed about the importance of the temple in the local religious landscape as being part of the sacred triumvirate including Golfadevi and Vetal temple. The consulate team departed from this last stop after sharing their positive feedback about the walking tour of Worli Koliwada
The map depicts the Worli Koliwada gaothan, and each of the numbers represent the key landmarks of the precinct that were visited.
Testimonial from the German consulate:
“Thank you from the whole team, including our Deputy Consul General Marja to G5A Foundation for realizing such an interesting and insightful tour! Everyone enjoyed it alot!”
- Deborah Von Frankenberg; Cultural Officer- German Consulate, Mumbai