ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anchoring the Past

A plan to resurrect Mumbai’s eastern docklands and maritime history would be incomplete without promoting the Marine Museum at Nhava.

Is it possible to conceive of Mumbai as a port city that is surrounded by water on three sides, whose maritime history goes back to 4,000 years? Until the inauguration of the Eastern Freeway – an elevated road that connects the eastern suburbs to the southern “town” passing through the Mumbai port and docklands – few of us would imagine that the eastern shore, comprising docklands and mudflats, was the “front bay” of Mumbai, facing the harbour. Popular imagination, as well as planning discourse, kept neglecting this vital piece of Mumbai’s urban rejuvenation. It is this neglect that shrouds the existence of the Marine Museum in the island of Nhava, just off the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) or Nhava Sheva port, currently Mumbai’s mainland port.

The Marine Museum, reportedly India’s oldest, is housed in the campus of Training Ship Rahaman, a national-level training institute for naval cadets, located close to Navi Mumbai. It was set up in 1912 by Sir Mohamed Yusuf, one of the pioneers of Indian shipping, when he decided to shift his marine school from Worli to the island of Nhava. The museum building was the former residence of Bomanjee Hormusjee Wadia, a scion of the Wadia family, who were considered the “master ship builders” of India. The two-storey Gothic style building is perhaps older than some of the collection it houses; records from the marine training school’s journal show the building in existence even as early as 1883.

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