Bhendi Bazaar

History of Bhendi Bazaar

Bhendi Bazaar’s history is inextricably linked with that of this dynamic city.

Bhendi Bazaar’s anecdote is one of the many stories contributing to the epic saga of Mumbai becoming the economic capital of India.

Originally, Bhendi Bazaar was part of the inner-city areas developed by the British to meet the housing needs of the workforce supporting trade and commerce activities in the harbour of Old Bombay, as Mumbai was known then. Its proximity to the Crawford marketplace generated high interest among traders to reside in the nearby localities.

The colloquial pronunciation of “Behind the Bazaar” (Crawford Market) became Bhendi Bazaar. Businessmen from various communities, such as Dawoodi Bohra, Memons, Gujaratis, Sindhis, Parsis, Katchis, etc., recognizing the strategic location, moved into Bhendi Bazaar, selling diverse items ranging from hardware and foam to clothing and antiques. People from across the city visited Bhendi Bazaar and the small markets nearby, including the Chor Bazaar (a weekly flea market), to buy and trade precious items.

Houses in Bhendi Bazaar were developed in a chawl or dormitory fashion, initially designed to accommodate single men who migrated to the coastal city for livelihood. Over time, entire families started moving into these chawls. The forced closeness resulted in a distinct culture that organically bonded over living almost in each other’s lives. These bonds of friendship, family, and devotion to Bombay created lifelong emotional memories in these neighbourhoods.

Crumbling infrastructure

Despite the bustling and lively ambience of this neighbourhood, Bhendi Bazaar remained one of the most underdeveloped and neglected parts of the city.

The area was serviced by infrastructure that was nearly a hundred and fifty years old, lacking footpaths, parking and wide enough roads for cars.

Additionally, there was no formal waste disposal system, and residents had access to water for only a few hours each day.

Many buildings constructed with wood and brick were severely affected by structural weaknesses and deterioration over time. Outdated sanitation and inadequate fire safety measures left the residents vulnerable to natural and man-made crises. Visitors were greeted by piles of rubbish and scurrying rodents, painting a stark picture of the neighbourhood’s decline. What was once a glorious neighbourhood started succumbing to decay until the wheels of transformation began in 2009.

“I have seen this project being born, progress and transform Bhendi Bazaar. This is not just for Mumbai. Not just for India. This is a statement to the entire world on how one can declutter a concrete jungle and transform it into a liveable atmosphere. This project is a landmark for urban transition.”
– Amin Patel, Member of Legislative Assembly (Mumbadevi).

The Bazaar

One of the oldest native markets of Mumbai.

Bhendi Bazaar is a bustling hub that draws shoppers from all corners of the city due to its unique offerings and comprehensive range of goods catering to urban residents and traders. The bazaar is particularly renowned for its ethnic food delicacies, exquisite antiques, and cultural items. Over time, distinct markets have organically developed, each specialising in a different range of products, including foam, leather, clothing, religious items, hardware, antiques, and various services.

The iconic Raudat Tahera and Saifee Masjid in Bhendi Bazaar attract religious tourists from around the world to Mumbai. Due to infrastructural decline, the neighbourhood and its markets saw minimal investment and started stagnating, leading to a gradual outflow of capital to more competitive areas in South Bombay.

People of Bhendi Bazaar

A melting pot of traditions and entrepreneurial spirit.

Deeply rooted in their faiths and traditions, the people of Bhendi Bazaar have their respective places of worship and engage in various socio-cultural activities. However, this diversity has never disrupted the harmony of the neighbourhood. Most of the residents are followers of Islam, with the Dawoodi Bohras comprising a significant portion of the population.

The people here are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, inventiveness, resourcefulness, and resilience, and they cherish the neighbourhood for meeting their diverse needs. However, as families expanded, the cramped, matchbox-sized homes barely offered habitable space. Women, children, and especially the elderly found the shared bathrooms a health hazard. The absence of elevators posed a significant challenge for the elderly and disabled. Moreover, the tiny rooms lacked adequate light and ventilation, making living conditions increasingly dire.

Abdul Hussain

Usman bhai

A. K. Zainuddin & Co

Mansoor Mithaiwala

Haji Mohammed Zaheer

Fakhruddin Mithaiwala