Almost all the old cities of our country have been witnesses to various civilizations, cultures and epochs. The cities might get a modern makeover now but on delving a little deeper, one may be able to witness societies, structures and cultures that have stood the test of time.
One such place is the Matharpacady “village”. Located in the Mazgaon area of Mumbai, Matharpacady is regarded as one of Mumbai’s few “heritage precincts”. Nobody knows when Mazgaon came into existence – but the “mangoes of Maza Gong” do get a reference in Thomas Moore’s epic poem, ‘Lallah Rookh’, written in 1817. Coming to the culture of the place, this quaint little village at the heart of a modern and metropolitan city like Mumbai has native Marathi speaking inhabitants, mostly of Roman Catholic ethnicity. This is believed to be one of the oldest areas of Mumbai since the inception of the city, when it was a Portuguese colony. Hence, though they speak Marathi, most of the residents (especially the old people) are well versed in Portuguese as well.
But there may be numerous similar areas in a bustling city like Mumbai, so what is so special in Matharpacady? The specialty of Matharpacady is that it has held on to its heritage with elan for centuries. Despite it being right at the heart of Mumbai, there has not been any new building erected, diminishing the old ones. Don’t be surprised if you spot an age-old, huge well – the rarest of its kind in posh South Mumbai – while roaming around the Matharpacady area. Venture around in the Dockyard area, and you shall spot another well of its kind – all of them here in Mumbai.
It won’t be wrong to term Matharpacady as a unique, self-contained village within a bustling city. Once famous for its mango trees (which would bear fruits twice a year), Matharpacady is known for its archaic altars and vivid Protuguese-styled houses, with their characteristic tiled roofs and verandas. The Gunpowder lane, the Sales Tax office and the Megaton Court are all prominent features of this “village”.
Talking about the rich cultural heritage of the village, one needs to visit the ancient Chinese temple here to understand how happily closely knit communities used to reside in this area once. And come December, the place decks up in vibrant hues to usher in the New Year. So, on your next trip to Mumbai, take a day off from fun and/or work and give some time to exploring the wondrous village that Matharpacady is.