The Forgotten Sound of Music at Bandstand

13 Jun

My home is on the thirteenth floor tucked away, in the heartland of British architectural legacies left behind in South Mumbai. When I wake up in the morning, I often look outside the window to behold a variety of vistas spread before me. Right from big and small ships docked in the sea to the Taj Hotel standing tall under the sun in all its glory, to waves splashing on the rocks at the root of Gateway of India. Besides these things there is a much ignored wide stretch of green land, known to few as the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial park. If you happen to ask a passerby for directions to Rajiv Gandhi Memorial park, there is a slim chance that the person will be able to help. The residents of this area know and love this little park as “Cooperage Bandstand Park”

The bandstand park is famous amongst the tiny tots as the “horse-park” because, apart from having swings, it’s one of the few parks in the whole of the city offering a place to practice horse riding. It has a circular track especially meant for kids to ride horses. Any person who has grown up in this area will have fond memories of riding horses in this park, and of the excitement they felt when riding one for the first time. Bandstand park is not only famous with the kids though, it’s also famous with the fitness fanatics because of a nice jogging track and the elderly for whom it is a preferred destination to catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Apart from being a fun place, the cooperage park offers some solace and respite from the city noise, especially for those wanting to delve deeper into their books. It has a study center which provides a quiet reading atmosphere to students who come here to study from all over town. You will be hard-pressed to get sitting space here during exam time as students sit and study late in the night here. For those who wish to carry the greenery home, it has a small nursery that has plants ranging from cacti to blossoming rose shrubs.

However, there is more to cooperage Bandstand Park than meets the eye. Looking at this park you would hardly suspect that it has such a splendid history behind it. This park was built by the British during the years when Maharishi Karve Road was known as Queen’s road and the sea that now is confined to the Marine Drive borders flowed freely right up to the area surrounding this park. Many would be intrigued to know that there was no Oval Maidan or Marine Drive back then. This park used to be at the sea shore where one could sit listening to the silent sound of splashing waves. It was here that the British often had gala parties and every Saturday evening British bands would perform on their orchestra, while the rich and famous sat around, listening. Almost a century later when the sea has been pushed far, far away by the reclaimed area, over which the oval and the whole of back bay area has been built, BMC is trying to continue the legacy. The BMC band plays here every Saturday evening and it’s not hard to imagine yourself being pulled away in time to the yester years amongst the rich and famous listening to the mingling British music and the sea waves, on a Saturday evening in this park.

The park’s history is not its only surprise.This park boasts of another fine peculiarity. The Western India Automobile Association of India (WIAA) takes care of a certain portion of this park and they educate young children in their own unique way about traffic rules. They have set up a small cycling track with signs similar to those on roads, traffic lights and zebra crossings so that children learn to understand and obey traffic rules. Parents wishing to make their children responsible citizens must not miss this park.

Weekends are a busy time at this park. Families come from far off in cars to cool off their heels here because this park has a little something to offer everyone. It’s hard to miss this park while walking from Colaba to Mantralay, and would make a great stop over after visiting causeway, to rest tired feet for a while. However most of the people who frequent this park hardly know about its history. For if you can imagine yourself getting out of an old horse carriage and stepping into a British musical gala as you walk through this gate, you will feel like you’re walking back in time. And that’s when it will really pay off to visit the surprise package called Cooperage Bandstand Park.

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3 Responses to “The Forgotten Sound of Music at Bandstand”

  1. Zeenia June 13, 2010 at 8:59 PM #

    Thanks Anshita!! Lots of fond memories with bandstand…even though i was not from the area, I remember going there with my mom and siblings and having a great time. The horse ride being my favorite, and then eating chickpeas and wanting to buy the bubbles..Picking up those yellow flowers(i still dont remember the name)and running around like a wild child everywhere, and knew where to meet my mom…and now since u mentioned about the band playing, I remember we were there once. Wow i have just relived those funfilled carefree days…
    btw i dint know there was no oval maidan at that time!!!

  2. Mayank June 16, 2010 at 2:32 AM #

    Hey Anshita…thanks for making me aware of one of heritage of India. Now I cannot resist visiting this park once. You have enlightened the readers with every aspect of the park. Its worth reading again. I think whats more important nowdays is making people understand importance of parks. Expanding metro cities dont spare such locations, killing beautiful aspects related to such hidden heritages.

    Keep up the good work

  3. protik June 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM #

    Holy crap you wrote this in 2010. Don’t ask me how I landed up here, I’m not really sure.

    Good post though 🙂 Would have said keep it up, but seems sort of redundant now ! 😛

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