Kalbadevi Road in Mumbai: Cloth market on this road played a part in Swadeshi movement

Apart from the Hindu and Jain temples located on the road, the stretch is also famous for steel utensil shops and the Swadeshi market, which played an important role during the Swadeshi movement.

THE KALBADEVI Road that stretches from Pydhonie police station to the landmark Metro Cinema, now Metro INOX Cinemas, is lined with several beautiful temples, including the Kalbadevi Mandir that gives the road its name.

Apart from the Hindu and Jain temples located on the road, the stretch is also famous for steel utensil shops and the Swadeshi market, which played an important role during the Swadeshi movement. What also links the road to the Indian freedom struggle is the fact that the Chapekar brothers (Damodar, Balkrishna and Vasudeo Chapekar) and Babu Genu, who laid down his life during the Swadeshi movement, often came to a temple in the area before starting rallies asking the British to leave the country, local residents say.

As one starts from the Pydhonie police station, there is the Adeshvarji Jain temple followed by the well-known Godiji Parshwanath temple named after Parshwanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar. Further down in the Kansara chawl area, employees at several steel utensil shops are out-shouting each other, trying to woo customers.

Ram Lal, a shopowner, says, “Earlier, these were chawls belonging to the Kansara community. The community, mostly found in Gujarat and Maharashtra, traditionally made utensils and bells. Naturally, this area became a wholesale market for steel utensils even after they left.”

Next to the utensil market are shops selling jewellery, then comes the Swadeshi market – one of the oldest cloth markets in the city. Govind Sheth, a shopowner at the market characterised by narrow passages, says, “The market has over 400 shops. Back in the day, it was called the Gokuldas Morarji market and later called the Swadeshi market for the part it played in the Swadeshi movement.”

“While there were residential apartments on the top floor, old timers says there were horse stables below before it became a cloth market,” Sheth adds.

Slightly ahead is the Kalbadevi temple. Vishwanath Damodar (55), who was associated with the temple trust for 32 years and undertook research on the temple and the locality, said the temple has been relocated thrice over the centuries. “A few centuries back, the temple was at Mahim from where it was moved to Azad Maidan. As the Britishers wanted to acquire land at the spot, the temple was moved here nearly 200 years back. The temple was then handed over to Raghunath Joshi and now the seventh generation of the family looks after it,” Damodar told The Indian Express.

He added that, while researching, he found that the Chapekar brothers would start rallies after visiting the Ramwadi Ram Mandir located on the road. “Even Babu Genu, a Swadeshi protester who came in the path of a truck carrying foreign goods, would come to the same temple,” Damodar said. There is a plaque paying tribute to the Mumbai hero. As the road reaches its southern end, comes the Edward theatre that has seen better days.

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