RUNNNG along the western flank of central Mumbai, the Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Marg is dotted with major Mumbai landmarks, from Mahim Dargah to Shivaji Park to Siddivinayak Temple and the former Mayoral bungalow that will soon be converted into a memorial to the late Bal Thackeray. Named after revolutionary freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the road was renamed decades ago but continues to be known best by its colonial name — Cadell Road, after PR Cadell, former municipal commissioner of the erstwhile Bombay.
Cadell, who later went on to become chief secretary, is well known for having written a history of the Bombay Army.
Savarkar, who espoused complete Indian independence by revolutionary means, is also credited with coining the term ‘Hindutva’. Unknown to many, he lived just off Cadell Road in the 1940s, in what was previously a bungalow named Savarkar Sadan. The property still exists, tucked into a lane off Shivaji Park, with a small memorial to the revolutionary leader on the ground floor.
Ranjeet Savarkar, grand-nephew of Vinayak Savarkar, said Savarkar Sadan located on the NB Raut Marg that connects to the present day SVS Road was his home when he moved to Mumbai in 1938. ” The construction of the then a two storey building – an additional floor was added later – began in 1937 and my grandfather moved there in 1938. He resided there till 1966, when he passed away,” the grandson told The Indian Express.
He added, ” After his death, the Shiv Sena asked for the road to be named after him. The resolution was unanimously passed.”
Currently, only a section of Savarkar Sadan is owned by Savarkar’s daughter-in-law. ” A section on the ground floor of the building preserves some of the certificates he had received,” Ranjeet added.
According to records, before the road was named after Cadell, it was identified by a bazaar held in Mahim. In his book Bombay Place-Names and Street-Names, Samuel T Sheppard writes that the road was earlier called the ‘Mahim Bazaar Road’. The Corporation was asked in 1916 to change the name to Cadell Road, “in view of the many activities of Mr P R Cadell, C.I.E, ICS ( Municipal Commissioner 1910 -1916) and because the old name has become meaningless as the Bazaar is now of no consequence”, according to Sheppard. He adds, ‘It is not quite the case that the name had become meaningless for the Bazaar is still important. But the corporation in deciding on the change included in the proposed Cadell Road not only Mahim Bazaar Road but also Bhandarwada Road and Jambli Tank Road.”
City historian Deepak Rao said, “Cadell was the Municipal Commissioner who went on to become the chief secretary of Bombay. He was also a full colonel in the British army. He has written an important book on the history of the Bombay Army.” Rao added that while today the road has several landmarks, in the pre-Independence years it was poorly developed. “Siddhivinayak temple was a small temple back then. Shivaji Park itself was carved out in 1925. It was after 1935 – 1940 that small buildings started coming up in Dadar. Prior to that, the entire area had open rice fields. People hardly went there and hence the road was named after the Bazaar operating at Mahim.”
Today the road that starts from opposite the St Michael’s Church at Mahim and goes right up to Century Bazaar in Worli, where it joins the Dr Annie Besant Road. As one walks some distance from the old Cadell road, one comes across the Makhdoom Ali Mahimi Dargah better known as the Mahim Dargah that attracts devotees and tourists especially for their Thursday Qawwali.
Suhail Khandwani, managing trustee of the Mahim Dargah whose family has resided on Savarkar Road for decades, said, “Back in the day the Mahim fair that was held on the road was so famous that several top politicians and senior police officers would visit it.” He added, “In the past few years however, there is so much traffic here that it is not the same road it used to be. Several commercial offices have come here and as a result of his the vehicular traffic has worsened.”
Also along the road is the Samyukta Maharashtra Smriti Dalan, a memorial to the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement that led to the creation of the state of Maharashtra, with Bombay as capital. Some distance ahead is the west end of the famous Shivaji Park ground, known to have spawned international cricketers from Sachin Tendulkar to Vinod Kambli and which continues to be a major crucible for cricket. Opposite Shivaji Park is the former Mayor’s bungalow, a heritage site originally inhabited by a princess from Bikaner before the British used it to store official documents.
Also located here is the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, a famous hospitality educational institute and the Antonio D’Silva Technical school. Further down the road is the famous Siddhivinayak Temple that has everyone from politicians to film stars coming to seek the blessings of Lord
Ganesha especially before big ticket movie releases.