Evidence of a Heritage
under Siege

HR

Xavier House, one of the older buildings in the heart of Ranwar, photographed here as it stood up until around 1999. The present structure was built in 1841. (The carved wooden plaque above, was embedded in the wall over the main entrance of the house. The IHS symbollises ‘Christ’ and below it, the three nails used to crucify Christ, pierce His heart symbolically).

 

This rambling, spacious bungalow was typical of the buildings in villages like Ranwar. It had a quaint veranda, with two plain teak benches and wrought iron railings, where passers by used to drop in to chat during the day or evening. The rooms were large and airy and the high wooden ceiling, held a loft that extended through the building. There was a wide garden to the east and a sprawling compound behind the bungalow with two large outhouses, a huge, gnarled tamarind tree, over a hundred years old, an equally tall jambool tree and several coconut palms.

 

The property was sold to a developer and the original building was demolished at the start of the new millennium.

 

A photograph shows the partly demolished building with the rooms exposed. The walls were constructed using bricks and white limestone ladhis that were typical of the area. The loft floor and the roof were constructed using solid teak beams that withstood the ravages of time and termites but finally gave way to development in the form of a multistoryed concrete and steel behemoth.

 

Despite its inappropriate location in a gaothan and heritage area the multi-unit apartment stands as stark evidence of the pressures which villages like Ranwar, Pali, Sherly and Rajan are subject to. The sewer lines, laid in the 1920s were never intended for the huge number of housing units that now have sprung up, with the result that the drains perennially clog and back up. The narrow lanes cannot handle the vastly increased through-traffic and the parking spaces required to accommodate resident vehicles, so that the quiet street, reflecting widespread changes in Bandra, is a chaotic, noisy thoroughfare with traffic jams occurring at bottlenecks, several times each day.