A walk through our Parish
St. Andrew Church is spectacularly located at Bandra, on the western coastline of Mumbai, overlooking the Arabian Sea, in a “nook” where the coast curves into a rocky beach to form a mini bay. More than 4 centuries ago, the church was built in Bandera (Vandre) of the island of Salcette. At the time, Bandera was made up of 24 rustic fishing and farming villages, separated by vast tracts of cultivated land, mango and coconut groves.
Today, St. Andrew’s Parish encompasses some of Mumbai’s prime realty. It runs south along BJ Road, down the Band Stand Promenade to the Portuguese Fort, literally “Land’s End”. Parallel to this, the Parish goes past the famous Mehboob Studio and winds its way up Mount Mary Road to the iconic Basilica.
North, it runs along the picturesque fishing village of Chimbai, where even today, the boats go out to sea, and the catch is sold by the Koli women in baskets along the road. A little further, the Parish turns into Jogger’s Park, Otter’s Club and down Carter Road up to the Police Chowki.
The area between Perry/Turner Road and Hill Road up to Manuel Gonsalves Marg is within the Parish ambit. All the streets here are named after Saints – Paul, Andrew, Dominic, Cyril, Leo, etc. Beginning in the 1960’s, most of the beautiful bungalows have given way to high-rise apartment blocks. Yet the ethos of the place stays intact, and on a quiet late evening, you can hear the tinkle of piano keys, as you walk down a tree-lined street.
This area also is home to St Andrew’s School, St. Andrew’s College and state-of-art Auditorium. The Christmas Midnight Mass in the humongous school grounds attracts thousands of every faith. Old timers remember – and may have been born in – Dr. D’Silva’s “Silverene” Nursing Home on St. Andrew Road. This is now the 232-bed, multi speciality, NABH and ISO certified Holy Family Hospital managed by the Ursuline nuns. Closer to the Church, is Apostolic Carmel High School & Jr. College for girls.
The Bandra Gymkhana, the famous colonial East Indian club, built in 1935, and the posh and modern DPRC Salcette Club, just off Perry Road, also come within Parish limits.
Parallel to Hill Road, on its southern side, is the pride of the Parish – the Gaothan of Ranwar. All heritage walks of Mumbai include a historic trip through Ranwar. Although here and there, are signs of the concrete jungle, most of Ranwar is in a “those-were-the-days” time-warp, its narrow streets lined with houses whose wooden stairs and mangalore roofs tell a nostalgic tale. Sadly crumbling … but hanging in there.