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Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – Mumbai – City – NEWS – The Times of India


Magathane Caves

Magathane Caves

Two years ago, a historian, while researching traditional Indian methods of water harvesting, stumbled upon a series of ancient Buddhist caves in Borivli, which its custodians scarcely knew or cared about.

Initially, she was scared that the historical caves would crumble under the weight of the slum colonies that encroached upon them, but now she fears that the construction works being conducted on an adjacent plot might bring the structures down. (via Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – The Times of India).

Old Mumbai mills are valuable - but not the Buddhist caves

Old Mumbai mills are valuable - but not the Buddhist caves

While India has managed to obtain funding for ‘saving’ the gargoyle-infested colonial railway structures from UNESCO, breast beating activists have managed to increase awareness of structures funded by colonial loot and drug trade (of opium).

In all this, two things are forgotten.

One – Colonial versions show the start of Mumbai’s history when the Portuguese gave Mumbai as dowry to the British in 1661 – including a Government of Maharashtra website.

If there was no Mumbai before the British, where did these Buddhist caves (at Magathane, Kanheri, etc.) come from? Or did I miss the ‘fact’ that British first came to India in the 2nd century, made these Buddhist caves – and came back again to India in the 17th century, built these Gothic Victorian structures, and went away – which we ‘uncultured’ Indians are trying to save?

Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?

Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?

Two – The liberal establishment in India is worried about all the colonial ‘heritage’ and structures. Old Mumbai mills are included – but not the even more ancient Buddhist structures.

The Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, while decrying the attempts by the Indian neo-Colonial Rulers, to ‘save’ Mumbai’s colonial past, makes no mention of these Buddhist caves. While Kipling’s bungalow is a ‘hallowed’ institution, these Buddhist caves are dying of ‘active neglect’.

  1. Pravin
    July 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    technically, magathane is not in the island city of mumbai -which is something the british did create ,mainly by reclamation.
    magathane,kanheri is in borivali -30k from the island city.
    incidentally, i live not too far from kanheri -you are right it is in shambles .

  2. July 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Pravin – Since you see ‘technical’ merit in the colonial arrogation of Indian history, let me give you further ‘technical’ information.

    1. Borivali is very much a part of the Mumbai land mass – and not a part of the mainland India. Pls. use a simple tool like Google Maps to check this out.

    And anyway, the British decided that Mumbai started at Churchgate /CST – which makes for your point that Borivali is 30 km from that centre. But if you look at Mumbai’s centre of gravity, it is Andheri.

    2. And it is Andheri that has the Mahakali Caves – which is also a part of these same Buddhist cave complexes of spread over 1200 sites (Magathane, Jogeshwari, Kanheri, Kondivite, Soppara, Kondawane et al).

    I hope you will NOT exclude Andheri from Mumbai.

    3. The shipping and ship building centres on the Western Coast (at Soppara, etc). were famous for more than a 1000 years.

    4. What the British did was ‘land grab’ – and use part of the loot proceeds to create these ‘Gothic Victorian’ colonial monsters, which most of the Brown Sahibs, the modern ‘chatterati’ seem to be so obsessed about.

    5. I didn’t hear a single voice raised about the Buddhist complexes – while some dumb colonial buildings were romanticized.

  3. Pravin
    July 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Andheri wasnt part of british mumbai. the land mass you see now didnt exist as one entity until the 7 islands and mahim were joined by reclamation. andheri was wilderness as much as 40 -50 years back. tigers roamed andheri in 1940s.

    british mumbai was pretty much limited to the island city -at the most till mahim/dadar.

    vasai ,sopara are ofcourse historic regions -but they arent part of mumbai. it is in thane.borivali is literally just a couple of km away from thane district .

    historian/conservationista sharada dwivedi who is part of the chaterati is also worked up about the magathane caves,btw, to her credit.

  4. July 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Pravin – I think there is : –

    1. Difference between history and administration.

    2. Indian history, of which Mumbai is a small and integral part goes much before the British wore clothes, had a bath and brushed their teeth.

    3. The division of geography into separate administrative units, is NOT what I am talking about, which you seem to be confusing history with.

    Coming to your specific inputs to the debate …

    Andheri wasnt part of british mumbai.

    The ‘British’ Mumbai that you allude to, was a small part of a larger economic area along the Western coast.

    Of course, colonial historians (and their followers) would like to arrogate all credit to themselves – and their narrative (which you seem to be subscribing to) paints an ignorant, backward Indian, dragged into a modern age by the Great White Master.

    the land mass you see now didnt exist as one entity until the 7 islands and mahim were joined by reclamation.

    Are you saying that because of a distance of a few metres, (maybe a 100-200 metres), Mumbai’s history starts as a clean slate – separate and different from Indian history and culture?

    Are you saying that these 100-200 metres insulates Mumbai’s history – from the greater Indian history?

    andheri was wilderness as much as 40 -50 years back. tigers roamed andheri in 1940s.

    It is an entirely Western concept that man and beast cannot live together. All Indian cities had wild animals at their periphery till the last century. Till the Great White Master (and his successor, the Great Brown Master) decided that we must become ‘modern’!

    british mumbai was pretty much limited to the island city -at the most till mahim/dadar.

    Which was promptly was afflicted by the bubonic plague.

    vasai ,sopara are ofcourse historic regions -but they arent part of mumbai. it is in thane.borivali is literally just a couple of km away from thane district .

    Are you talking of history or segregation of administrative units? BTW, the British first started in Vasai, and needed greater protection for their pirate ships, – which is when they moved to South Mumbai to an area no called Fort.

    historian/conservationista sharada dwivedi who is part of the chaterati is also worked up about the magathane caves,btw, to her credit.

    I see great efforts to save the ugly gargoyles of CST – but have seen little efforts to save the beautiful 1st-6th century Buddhist caves. Logically speaking, oldest monuments should get first attention, relevance should determine conservation – all of which seem to be getting the short shrift.

    So much for her efforts!!

  5. Anuraag Sanghi
    July 23, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Pravin –

    On hindsight, I think what you seem to be saying is that

    1. South Mumbai is the real Mumbai – and North Mumbai is anyway not Mumbai.

    2. It follows – that all these chatterati, conservationistas, are from South Mumbai – and are bothered about the ‘history’ and ‘heritage’ of the ‘original’ Mumbai.

    3. As for ‘North’ Mumbai, they can take their ‘history’ and …

    4. Hence, The Mahim Fort gets great coverage, the gargoyles of CST get protection. Anyway, ‘North’ Mumbai history is not your history?

    Right!?

    I get it now. Slow, aren’t I?

  6. samadhyayi
    December 5, 2010 at 5:14 am

    why no article on rajiv dixit. is this strategic silence. if they have killed him. i guess the time for hiding has passed away.

  7. samadhyayi
    December 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

    and i want some articles on the following. please

    what good things and bad things did the following do to india.
    nehru, indira, narshimha rao.
    did the cia kill lal bahadur shastri, why if true
    did the cia kill homi jahangirbhabha and vikram sarabhai

  8. samadhyayi
    December 5, 2010 at 5:22 am

    have u heard this ever
    “….Loud mouthed cow-lovers bragging about how clever they were and how they, too, were going to be a great power in the world. …..”

  9. samadhyayi
    December 5, 2010 at 5:25 am

    what do u think of the interview of Robert Trumbull Crowley
    (1924 – 2000) where he says shastri and bhaba were killed by cia. is it fabricated fiction or truth. u are somone who can spot the inconsistencies if it is fiction for the interview mentions many other things as well.

  10. samadhyayi
    December 5, 2010 at 5:28 am

    and also do u think that theosophists were spies of the british.
    and do u think aleister crowley was a spywho spoiled india’s yugantar plot.

  11. December 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    aleister crowley was a spy who spoiled india’s yugantar plot.

    You will have to tell us something about this!

  12. December 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    the interview of Robert Trumbull Crowley

    Can you give a link to this.

  13. samadhyayi
    December 6, 2010 at 6:05 am

    http://bharatbarad.wordpress.com/homi-bhabha/

    http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/7583

    these two links contain a part of the interview. the interviewer wrote a book. he had even interviewed that german guy what was his name. who was trapped in russian jails for ever.

  14. samadhyayi
    December 6, 2010 at 6:21 am

    i think the interviewer was gregory douglass. he wrote book
    the cia covenant:nazis in washington. he claims to have interviewed gestapo chief hienrich mueller as well.

  15. samadhyayi
    December 6, 2010 at 6:57 am

    video on aleister crowley. his involvement in yugantar plot is rare to find on net.

  1. July 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

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