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Dadar Parsi Colony

Photos: Inside Dadar Parsi Colony, Mumbai's first planned settlement

Large gardens, beautiful homes and tree-lined streets in the heart of a bustling metropolis

In a city craving for open spaces, the Dadar Parsi Colony comes across as a happy exception. With tree-lined avenues, picturesque cul-de-sacs set around five gardens, the Dadar Parsi Colony is a real estate goldmine. Contrary to popular belief, the Dadar Parsi Colony is also home to non-Parsi people. The original plan has a majority of plots reserved for members of the Parsi community and a few for non-Parsi residents.

So what was this plan? After the crippling Bombay Plague of 1890s, the government realised it was important to expand the city beyond the cramped quarters in the south that had developed haphazardly since the city’s establishment. It was thus that the Bombay City Improvement Trust was formed and accommodation for 60,000 people was to be created in the Dadar-Matunga area with a plan to accommodate as many people in Sion-Matunga. Another 85,000 people were to be accommodated in the Sewri-Wadala area.

The plan laid emphasis on proper sanitation and no building was to be taller than three stories. There was to be sufficient open spaces between the buildings and the land was to be proportionately used for residences, commercial establishments and institutional constructions. Space was also made for parks and gardens and streets were laid out so people could walk comfortably even as vehicles passed by without hurting the passers-by.

As much as 440 acres of land was procured and leased to the government for selling and co-operative housing societies were formed to make sure the newly developed land was utilised properly. The Parsi colony and its neighbouring Hindu Colony this came to be developed in the 1920s with tramways extending all the way from south Mumbai to here and a railway bridge was constructed connecting the western and eastern sides of Dadar that were divided by a railway line.

Eventually several educational institutions also made their way to this new suburb (that’s now at the heart of the city) including the elite VJTI as well as the Wadia Vachha (now known as JB Vachha) High School and the Poddar College of Commerce and Ruia College of Arts and Science (the last of the two came up in Hindu Colony but a mere five-minute walk from Dadar Parsi Colony.

By all estimates, the Dadar Parsi Colony is home to about 15,000 Parsis making it the largest concentration of the community in the world.