It was the golden hour before sunset a couple of weeks back and I was on a walk with my friend Rama on Mount Mary Road. We were generally chatting about that and this and as we approached the steps that leads one down to Hill Road, I noticed a half-buried stone plaque/marker on one side of the steps. A closer look revealed this:
Wow ! A 135-year old marker? And Bandra as Bandora? I was immediately intrigued and once I reached home turned to my good friend Google for helping me find out more about this slice of history.
And here is what I discovered 🙂
The steps had a name: “Degrados de Bomonjee” or “Bomonjee’s Steps“, which were built by Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (Bomonjee’s son?) in 1879 to link Mount Mary Road and Hill Road. It is believed Jamsetjee wanted a daughter and prayed at Mount Mary Church for one. His wish was fulfilled and he built the steps on his daughter’s 8th birthday as an offer of thanksgiving.
This is not all that I found. Last Saturday, I was back in the area, this time in the morning, to explore the various churches in the area. And as I approached Bomonjee’s Steps, I saw another stone plaque that I had missed the last time around. See the photograph below.
The arrows point to the stone plaques. The one on the right is the plaque I had seen before, and the one on the left was this:
So there was a plaque that identified it as “Bomonjee’s Steps” and also that it was intended for public use. I wondered what else was written on the plaques, but now lay buried under the road.
Herein lies my frustration at the way so many things work around us. In the case of these steps, the municipal corporation saw it important to leave the stone plaques in place, but not so important that they should be visible as the marker they were obviously meant to be. And why blame only the authorities? What about the people who lived there and passed the plaques every day when they used the steps? Why hadn’t they tried to take care of their own local history?
There are actually two flights of steps connecting Hill Road and Mount Mary Road. The one on the right is Bomonjee’s Steps and the other one must have been a later addition — these steps are easier to climb and must have been built during a road widening process.
The next time you’re in Bandra, do make a little time to go and see Bomonjee’s steps and the plaques. At the rate the roads are being repaired or rather the height raised, it won’t be there for much longer. The plaques that is, not the steps. 😦
Mumbai Lens is a photographic series which, as the name suggests, is Mumbai-centric and is an attempt to capture the various moods of the city through my camera lens. You can read more posts from this series here.