The nearly 2-km stretch that runs parallel to the Arabian Sea from St Andrew’s Church to Land’s End and hosts the residences of superstars Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan is popularly known as Bandra Bandstand. Rarely, the name of Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, a 19th century philanthropist, is associated with it.
“It was Jeejeebhoy who then at his own expense constructed what we today call the Bandra Bandstand. The road’s official name is Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Road to this date,” said Arvind Ganacharya, a former history professor at Mumbai University.
The promenade came to be called bandstand as there was a spot along the stretch where bands played to entertain people. The spot today has been taken over by a diverse crowd, from college students and joggers to fans of Bollywood actors who live along the stretch and people keen to see the sun set.
Jeejeebhoy, who had founded several educational institutes in what was then Bombay, had been granted seven villages between Jogeshwari and Borivali in addition to the Bandra Land’s End, a strip jutting into the Arabian Sea with the Bandra Fort at its tip. The fort, built by the Portuguese in 1640, was known as Castella de Aguada (fort of the waterfront) and was meant to be a watchtower overlooking Mahim bay and the sea.
“Earlier, the road was home to big bungalows of Parsis. Several Europeans, especially from the military, also stayed here along with Goans who migrated here in the 19th century. For the entertainment of the Europeans, there was a bandstand with a canopy. Here, bands including members from the European military played music in the evening. Several Goans also joined in. It was quite a sight with Parsis, Europeans and Goans who would come out to see the band play,” Ganacharya said.
While bands no longer play along the bandstand, the road continues to attract people, who want to catch a glimpse of Salman Khan, who lives in Galaxy Apartments, right at the beginning of the road, or Shah Rukh Khan, whose bungalow Mannat is also located along the stretch.
Padma Devi Shah, owner of a flower stall near Land’s End, said, “Usually, right after the release of a Shah Rukh Khan movie, people crowd around his house, yelling and shouting. Shah Rukh Khan is known to come out and wave to the crowds. Getting a first-hand account of the frenzy, one realises how much people idolise Bollywood stars.”
Dr Joan Dias, whose family has lived in the Bandra area, said, “Some years back, the promenade was done up well by architect P K Das. Now there are jogging tracks, places to sit. In good old Bandra, there were rocks along the shore that were quite an attraction for people, especially couples.”
Further down the promenade, J P Gupta, owner of Camp Juice Centre, there for about 35 years, said, “This is a very happening part of the city. Our business never really suffers. It rarely even fluctuates. College and school students frequent the area, students from colleges like Rizvi and St Andrews. I’ve had Salman Khan send his people to get juice from our stall.”
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