Byculla: An old Mumbai neighbourhood reclaims its elite roots


We look at why Byculla, which was once home to Mumbai’s elite, is once again attracting premium real estate developments

A bustling township near Mumbai’s eastern coastline; a region with a rich history; a confluence of religions and cultures; and now, a sought-after residential destination – Byculla is many things at once. It is also undergoing a transformation. This timeless region of old Mumbai is embracing urban renewal, to reclaim its rightful status on the city’s map. Aided by excellent connectivity and a host of massive infrastructure projects, Byculla is rapidly building bridges between its centuries-old heritage and the modern milieu.

 

Byculla: An old Mumbai neighbourhood reclaims its elite roots

 

Byculla: Once home to Mumbai’s elite

Formerly a part of Mazgaon (one of Mumbai’s seven original islands), Byculla has linked south Mumbai with other parts of the city for over 200 years. Its prized location once made it the home of many of Mumbai’s elite, including European settlers and the business community comprising Parsis, Bohras and even Armenians. The mushrooming of textile mills in the 19th century also helped Byculla flourish economically. Over time, mill closures and other reasons, resulted in many affluent families and businesses moving out of the region.

See also: Byculla: The jewel of south Mumbai

While Byculla was always popular for its verdant 60-acre Rani Baug botanical garden (today called Jijamata Udyan) that houses the city’s first museum (Dr Bhau Daji Lad) and an iconic zoo, it remained a relatively untouched residential neighbourhood for a long time. Things changed drastically a few years ago, following the launch of the Eastern Freeway road and Phase 2 of the Mumbai Monorail, both of which have transformed connectivity to Byculla.

Byculla is now acknowledged as a gateway to commercial and tourist hotspots like Fort, Cuffe Parade and Colaba and important business and leisure districts like Worli, Lower Parel and the Bandra-Kurla Complex. The announcement of new infrastructure projects, such as the trans-harbour road linking Sewri and Navi Mumbai, a seven-kilometre long ‘Marine Drive 2.0’ between Mazgaon Docks and Wadala and the proposed Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro, have boosted Byculla’s real estate appeal significantly.

In addition, its proximity to the eastern harbour allows for fantastic views of the Arabian Sea. This has been instrumental in the springing up of upscale residential developments.

 

Infra developments in Byculla: Balancing heritage and urban renewal

Often, when cities undergo urban renewal, traces of their past – bazars, cafés, museums and parks – fade into the shadows of gleaming skyscrapers. By contrast, Byculla retains its old Mumbai feel. Its history is preserved, even today, in its Portuguese, Gothic and Greco-Roman architecture. Glimpses of its genteel past are still visible to the discerning eye, in its Irani cafés, its Parsi, Hindu and Jewish enclaves and its by-lanes.

Some of Byculla’s best-preserved heritage include its railway station (which is India’s oldest surviving station), the 158-year-old Rani Baug (the city’s oldest public garden), and the British-era S-bridge, once considered an architectural marvel. The harmonious coexistence of several cultures – Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism- has also left its architectural imprint on Byculla in the form of the Magen David synagogue, Mankeshwar temple, Hasnabad mausoleum (dubbed Mumbai’s Taj Mahal) and the Gloria Church, among other structures.

Check out price trends in Byculla

 

What makes Byculla a hotspot for premium real estate?

At the same time, Byculla is a modern residential hub with several hospitals, schools and upscale restaurants. Bridges and flyovers connect the region seamlessly to other parts of Mumbai. With several new infrastructure projects in the pipeline, the city’s well-heeled are also flocking back, to buy properties in Byculla. Low-rise structures are making way for modern gated communities and high-rise luxury developments are changing the region’s skyline forever.

For home-buyers, Byculla’s return to its elite roots is a cause for celebration. After all, it presents a rare chance to acquire a slice of south Mumbai’s bejewelled past, while enjoying all the benefits of a premium residential neighbourhood, near the Arabian Sea.

(The writer is president, sales and marketing, Piramal Realty)

 

FAQ

Is Byculla a part of south Mumbai?

Yes, Byculla is a part of south Mumbai.

How old is Byculla station?

Byculla station was opened in 1853 and rebuilt in 1857.

What are the property rates in Byculla?

As per listings on Housing.com, the average property price in Byculla is Rs 27,716 per sq ft, with properties available from Rs 13,538 per sq ft to Rs 67,567 per sq ft.

 

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