Fanaswadi, one of the several wadis in Girgaum, is today surrounded by buildings and highrises. The wadis were hamlets within the city named after a community or a unique local feature. Fanaswadi is named after jackfruit (fanas in Marathi) as there used be a large number of jackfruit and mango trees in the area.
“Fanaswadi was part of one of the seven islands of the city. Until 40 years ago, there used to be jackfruits and mango trees in this area. So, it is named Fanaswadi. With gradual development, the trees vanished and chawls and small buildings came up in the area. Now, there is nothing left to identify it as Fanaswadi,” recollected Wairkar, 84 years old, a resident of Fanaswadi. He added that a few Marathi locals started working in mills and the Marwari community set up businesses.
“Earlier, the majority of people living in the area were the Koli community with its main business of fishing,” said Wairkar.
Also, Fanaswadi is known for the famous temple of Lord Venkateshwara, built in 1927, known as the ‘Little Tirupati’ by Shree Venkateshwara Devasthan.
“The temple is built in old architectural style. Those who can’t go to Tirupati come here to offer prayers and tonsure themselves. Though nowadays there are many replicas of Tirupati temple, it is the oldest replica anywhere in the country,” said Rajpal Singh, assistant manager of the temple, who has been working there for last 40 years.
The 18 chapters of Bhagwadgita are inscribed on the three sides of the wall around the main structure of the temple with photos of 108 deities put up on the walls.
Singh further said that the temple has an old water body.
“It is around 40 feet deep but still we never face any water shortage. We use water for puja, preparing prasad and for all other related activities. The water flow is still good,” he said adding that temple sees on an average 500 visitors every day.
Jagdish Gandhi, author of ‘A tale of three towns- Bhuleshwar, Girgaum and Walkeshwar’, said that Mumbai island as a whole is part of Konkan, which is known for jackfruits.
“The fanas is essentially a fruit in Konkan and Goa. Before the people immigrated to Mumbai, the local population had their own wadis dominated by Hindu and Christian Koli communities. In the early 20th century, there were migrants coming from all directions who started purchasing the lands. The locals started selling their lands and as a result nothing is left here as their own,” said Gandhi, who is also an environmentalist and heritage activist, and added that all gymkhanas used to be part of the seashore of Girguam till Mararshi Karve Road.