An Urban Village in Mumbai – Worli Koliwada

Summer School 2017
Instructors: Kamalika Bose, Anuradha Parikh
24 July 2017

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Vibrant communities lie at the heart of dynamic and resilient neighborhoods and cities. Their history, stories, dreams and aspirations fuel the engines of urban transformation for a future that is sustainable – economically, environmentally, culturally and socially. Mumbai’s urban villages, or gaothans, are historically endowed with this rich social and cultural capital leading quiet yet disconcerted existences. Struggling to fit into the mosaic of the city’s contemporary urban culture, Worli Koliwada, one of the earliest fishing villages in Mumbai, is representative of this phenomenon.

This study is a culmination of a collaborative effort between G5A Foundation’s CityLAB initiative and participating students from CEPT University’s Summer School 2017. Working in groups, the students interacted closely with the local community to enable qualitative research and impressionistic mapping. Dove-tailing into G5A CityLAB’s ongoing work on developing a participative

and inclusive model for neighborhood governance, with a current focus on Solid Waste Management in the Worli Koliwada, the students additionally looked into aspects of the physical neighborhood, livelihoods, heritage, culture and memories – and their changing patterns with time. The work attains a broader relevance in wake of Mumbai’s towering aspirations and swift transformation into a global megapolis. However, such priorities dexterously implant global images of urbanity into the local landscape, while often casting aside any concern of context, culture and livability.

That the Worli Koliwada, by its strategic location, foregrounds this emergent skyline, is both ironic and opportune. This study is thus also an attempt and opportunity to refocus on the local – by minutely observing embedded histories, acknowledging the ordinary, and enabling an inclusive, bottom-up approach of working with community and culture.

Context Mapping

Illustrative Map

Continuity and Change Sections

1. Worli Fort

Towards the tip of the Koliwada and surrounded by fish drying yards, stands the historic Woeli Fort, an 18th century marker of Mumbai’s maritime past. The elevated site presides over the settlement that has assertively developed around it in the recent past.

2. Fish Market

A serpentine maze through colourful residences lead to a framed pavilion, in the heart of the settlement, which serves as fish market. A fairly recent addition is the covered shed structure that is active through the day. The Fish Market is surrounded by newly built structures that join the busy S K Bhaye Marg. The street further leads towards the sea passing through a mix of low-rise medieval residential structures.

3. Paapmochan Temple

This street sees a variety of buildings around the rebuilt and renovated Temple; from balcony-lined residencies to single-storied clay-roofed houses with verandahs in the immediate context. It is considered to be one of the oldest clusters at the settlement core.

4. Navneet Chowk

This street leads to the oldest housing cluster of low-rise, sloped roof, single storeyed structures in the inner core which are surrounding by reconstructed and/or redeveloped housing ypologies. As we move away from the core onto the main streets, one finds a rapid rate of change and transformation of house-form.

5. Waras Lane

Marking the southern boundary of the Worli Koliwada is dotted by a series of service shops on the lower level with living arrangements for the worker/owner on the upper attic representing a live-work typology. Waras Lane meets S K Bhaye road, the eastern arterial access at the Chededev temple, a significant community landmark, and continues towards an garbage-dumped shoreline. The western access of Golfadevi Road has transformed into high-rise residential typologies and culminates at the Indian Coast Guard headquarters.

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Worli Fort Story

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This illustration employs ghost stories that surround the facts and fables of the historic Worli Fort to highlight its forgotten history and significance today. The Fort ghost then becomes a metaphor for lost identities and alludes to the fading significance of the Worli Koliwada today, as Mumbai surges ahead on a path of massive urban transformation and global aspirations.  Will the Koli spirit live on only as memories and stories?

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Culture – Nature : An Integrated Life Cycle

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Culture and traditions are a community’s window of expression to the world. They help people mark significant occasions in life transitions, communal beliefs, practices ​and are linked to geographical and climatic conditions.

These concentric rings are a graphical representation of the festival and fishing cycles in the Worli Koliwada – which are the warp and weft of the Koli lifecycle.

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Framing Culture : (Multi)Place Readings

Set 1 – January to May

1A: Chededev temple – Pausch Purnima, B: Hanuman temple – community lunch, C: Paap Vimochan temple – Pausch Purnima, D: Church and surrounding area near Worli tip jetty – daily activity of fish drying, E: Worli tip jetty – Holi, F: Sai Baba Seva Mandal – Dahi Handi, G: Golfadevi temple – Golfadevi Jatra, H: Achanak Krida Mandal – Golfadevi Jatra

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The diverse celebrations of Koliwada has been captured through frames, each representing the major activity or festival at a particular time of the year. Having chosen eight important spaces, how they transform through the lens of time through the year has been depicted.

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Set 2 – June to July

2A: Daily aarti, B: Havan, C: Yoga class, D: Daily evening prayer, E: Boat repair, F: Medical camp, G: Drying chillies and paapad, H: Jahir Sabha

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Worli Koliwada Urban Livelihoods

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Koli Fisherwomen Story

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Distinctive attire, love for gold jewelry and outspoken attitude are the hallmark of Koli women who enjoy a dominant position in domestic and business matters alike. An equal partner in sharing roles in the fishing trade, their economic independence and hence empowerment is a fascinating social model. This illustration highlights the position of these hardworking women, their freedom of speech and action, stemming from a high social status in all spheres of life.

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The Fishing Ecosystem

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Non – Fishing Ecosystem

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Solid Waste Management story

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The illustration presents a satirical outlook at the problem of solid waste disposal and open defecation that is rampant in the Worli Koliwada. It highlights the humorous accounts of associations with respect to the defecation spots – almost making it a fun group activity! Garbage disposal spots that have conveniently cropped up along the Koliwada’s shoreline leading to environmental pollution and ​degradation is further reinforced.

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Mapping of existing Solid Waste Management

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Student Participants: Aarati Binayak, Aayushi Joshi, Anjali Katare, Anupama Warrier, Arkadipta Banerjee, Jacob Baby, Jane Thomas, Kamna Vyas, Manushi Sheth, Namrata Toraskar, Nilesh Prajapati, Rhujuta Jadhav, Shemal Pandya, Shriya Balakrishnan

Student Participants: Aarati Binayak, Aayushi Joshi, Anjali Katare, Anupama Warrier, Arkadipta Banerjee, Jacob Baby, Jane Thomas, Kamna Vyas, Manushi Sheth, Namrata Toraskar, Nilesh Prajapati, Rhujuta Jadhav, Shemal Pandya, Shriya Balakrishnan.