India: Bungalows of Bandra - Bombay's Vanishing Heritage

Early 20th century bungalows in Bandra, one of the suburbs of Bombay (Mumbai).

Why visit? 
With the land prices in Bombay reaching stratospheric levels, these low-rise bungalows are slowly disappearing. The land they stand on is simply too valuable!

In Bandra, one of the Western Suburbs of Bombay. Map.

IN THE EARLY 20th century Bandra was a little village, about 15km north of Bombay. Although settled since the 16th century by the Portuguese (who built the first church and a fort) and before that by the native Koli people, this was a quiet village far outside the city where relatively affluent civil servants came to retire and live in comfortable bungalows and small houses. 

Fast forward to the 21st century. Bandra has become part of the city of Bombay (Mumbai), and has become one of the most desirable places to live for affluent Indians and well-to-do expatriates. The landscape of Bandra is changing as the low-rise buildings are being torn down to be replaced by high-rise apartment blocks...
Bandra today... the few low-rises will probably disappear in the next few years...
This is understandable given the value of the land and the money to be made but the result is that Bandra has been transformed from a rustic village to an area of eternal traffic jams and round-the-clock noisy construction...

Many of the old bungalows (the term is used loosely in India to refer to a single-family home, even if it has multiple stories) have already disappeared and those that remain are dwarfed by the glass-and-concrete tower blocks of today.

The bungalows reflect the various architectural styles in fashion in the early 20th century- from rustic mock-'ye olde English' cottages to cool Art Deco. 
This beautiful but dilapidated villa takes pride of place on a junction near St Andrew's church and Bandstand. 
One of my favourites. it's well-maintained with lots of detailed carving and wood trimmings. Perry Rd with Leo Rd. 
This one on busy Hill Rd features a large neo-classical pediment and typical 'Bombay Gothic' windows. 
A prime example of Art Deco elegance on Perry Rd, near St. Leo Rd.
Another favourite with a beautiful porch on Mt Carmel Rd. 
Bandra is traditionally a Catholic area. Many of the old Bandra families have Portuguese-sounding last names and English first names. This is also reflected in some of the buildings' names as well as the many crucifixes placed in the neighbourhood. 
The Ave Maria bungalow
Mendonca features a belated Christmas star and a little Maria grotto.  
St Sebastian who, as usual, looks like a gay pin-up. 
A Crucifix near Pali Market witnesses the area's Christian heritage. 
Not all the inhabitants were Christian though. 
This house belonged to a Muslim family... indicated by the inscription on the roof and the green colour. 
Although I can't know for sure, but it looks like this may have belonged to a Jewish family. Hill Rd opposite Mehboob Studios. 
Many of the houses feature beautiful stained glass windows and delicate ironwork. 

Unscrupulous developers try to buy these bungalows in order to use the land to build another tower... there are many legal disputes. As a result, some bungalows feature signs asserting the owner's rights and permanent guards. 
The sign say 'This Property is not for Sale'. The guard didn't like my picture-taking. 
Many of the buildings date from the 1920's en 30's when Art Deco was very much en vogue. There are some beautiful examples that have survived from that era. 
The high rises are crowding in!
Cool Art Deco lines one on Perry Rd. 
No 18 Mt Carmel rd. 
And lastly, a few other prime examples on Perry Rd: 
Peace Haven is often used to shoot movies. 
An eclectic European-style building. 
Another gem on Perry Rd. 
This one is carefully hidden on St Anne's Rd, on the backside of St Anne's Church.
And lastly, admire the creative metal grille of this door!
One of our readers, Neil Pereira, sent us this picture of his family home, Clamar Cottage, near Pali Naka, and built in the late '40s, early '50s. 

Getting there:
Bandra can be reached by train or car from South Bombay. 

The bungalows are spread on numerous roads. Check the following roads, but do wander into side streets to make your own discoveries. Perry Rd has some fabulous buildings. Streets leading off from here that are worth a look are St Alexious Rd, St Andrew's Rd, and St Leo Rd, as well as St Dominic Rd. (Now is a good chance to brush up on your knowledge of Catholic Saints.)

Then move down south, Mt Carmel Rd, and the area around Rebello Rd and St Sebastian Rd. 

Useful links:
Hindustan Times: The burden of history
Bombay Architecture Blog

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