The city of Mumbai never fails to surprise. It is easy for a new comer to be dazzled by the sheer energy and exuberance of the city, but there are surprises for even those who’ve spent their lifetimes in it. Despite being known for its vast colonial heritage, Mumbai’s spirit is deeply ingrained in Indian values. ‘Banganga’ situated in southern Mumbai is a living testimony to this fact.
To insusceptible tourist, Walkeshwar may seem like a typical uptown neighborhood in south Mumbai. However the ancient Banganga tank reminds us of times when Mumbai was the chosen hermitage of sage Gautama, one of the most revered saints of sanatan culture. It is this ‘ashrama’ which is believed to be visited by number of epic heroes and mythological characters.
As per legends, Laxman the younger brother of Lord Ram has been credited for shooting an arrow to break a natural spring at Banganga site in order to quench Lord Ram’s thirst. According to some accounts of Gaud Saraswat Brahmanas, It was Lord Parshuram who’s blow drew sweet water out of saline coastal land of Mumbai .Walkeshwar has been the seat of vedantic thinkers in the past, whose description of the supreme reality is as scientific as its rationale. Whatever be the reason, the deep connection of this site with Uttar Mimansa school of thoughts is clearly evident by the presence of numerous samadhi (memorials) of adwaita sages in the vicinity
Their also once stood a grand Shiva temple here by the name of ‘Walkeshwara’ (Lord of the Sands). however the structure in itself couldn’t survive the test of time, Portuguese colonizers demolished the Walkeshwara temple in an attempt to subjugate the natives and disconnect them from the glories of their past. However what they couldn’t demolish was the unfailable spirit of Mumbai. Banganga of today sprang out from its own ruins like a phoenix that rises from its own ashes.
Mumbai is often believed to be city that was established by western colonizers with little or no connection with India’s cultural and spiritual heritage. However structures like Banganga will time and again remind us of the resilient spirit of our country and reinforce the ‘never say die’ spirit of us Mumbaikar