(From left) Rihen Ajmera, founder of Awestrich, and Siddhartha Fondekar at Jugonnath Sunkersett Chowk in Grant Road
If you walk under the French Bridge in the bustling Gamdevi neighbourhood, on your right, you will come across Sharda Mandir High School. The school stands on the ground that used to be the home of Rukhmabai Raut. Hers is a story of sheer determination. Born in 1864, she was married off to Dadaji Bhikaji, when she was all of 11. In the years following her marriage, she lived in her parental home to complete her studies. In 1884, when she refused to consummate her marriage, her husband filed a case for restitution of conjugal rights under British law. Rukhmabai stood her ground and initiated one of the most publicised legal cases in 19th-century India, which even led to the passing of Age Of Consent Act. And that’s not where the story ends. She went on to study medicine in England and earned the honour of becoming India’s first practising lady doctor.
Dr Annie Besant
This Friday, participate in a two-hour walk to unearth stories of gritty individuals like Rukhmabai, who have played an integral role in bringing about social reforms in Mumbai.
Titled Parivartak Walk, it has been organised by Awestrich — a five-month-old city-based platform that allows you to meet people, explore places and share stories — as part of the Heritage Week.
Sharda Mandir High School near French Bridge in Gamdevi. It stands where Rukhmabai Raut’s home was located
“Generally, the Indian social reform movement is associated with great reformers from Bengal, such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. But there were many in Maharashtra, and in Mumbai, who challenged existing backward practices at every step. The idea is to connect with their stories and understand the relevance even today. For instance, my mother, who is a widow, raised me all by herself. That wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for these individuals,” shares 25-year-old Siddhartha Fondekar, an MA in psychology, who will conduct this walk.
Learn how Dr Annie Besant is associated with Blavatsky Lodge in Grant Road
The walk starts from Nana Chowk and covers the narrow bylanes of Gamdevi and Girgaum, ending at Charni Road Station. Fondekar says, “We will cover roughly 15 spots, including Blavatsky Lodge that is associated with social activist Dr Annie Besant, along with certain roads named after social reformers.” Post its debut this week, the walking experience will be held every Sunday at 8 am.
ON: April 21, 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm
MEETING POINT: Nana Chowk.
LOG ON TO; goo.gl/1uTDkj
ENTRY: Rs 100
What’s in store?
Explore Vithalbhai Patel Marg, named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s lesser-known brother.
Discover the birthplace of the first woman in shipping.
Learn about Jugonnath Sunkersett Chowk at Grant Road, which is named after a philanthropist who contributed funds for a Sanskrit library in Girgaum and was nstrumental in bringing the railways to India.