Mumbai Local

Sardar Gruha, Tilak’s Mumbai home, gets Governor’s aid promise

On the way to the chaotic Crawford Market, a quaint building on your left could be easily overlooked, but for a gleaming bust of freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

This is the iconic Sardar Gruha, where Tilak resided in Flat 198 on the fourth floor during his visits to Mumbai. This was where he spent the last years of his life. The Marathi daily Kesari , founded by Tilak, now operates a regional branch of its advertising office from the flat.

The cloth vendors on the ground floor appear unconcerned with the building’s historical value. As on ascends the ornately-carved wooden staircase, the toll taken by time is evident: the wood has softened, developing cracks and fissures, and the banisters are being held together with nylon rope.

It housed many families during Tilak’s time, but real estate development in the area has resulted in flats being rented out as offices. Now, only a few families have stayed on, and many are unaware of Tilak’s legacy, despite a large painting of him outside the Kesari office.

B.M. Shinde, a resident for over 15 years, 70, says he is aware of Tilak’s connection to the building, “I didn’t know he died here. We simply don’t find the time these days to enquire about such things.”

Monday marked Tilak’s 96th death anniversary, but the neglect of Sardar Gruha is evident. Vijaya Gopal Kamat, 68, a resident who has lived all her life in the building, said its leaky pipes are causing severe damage to the walls and urgent repair is needed.

Sardar Gruha’s restoration received a push on Monday evening when Governor Ch.Vidyasagar Rao said he will make attempts to bring much-needed recognition to not just the building, but also the city’s historic political destinations, Azad Maidan and August Kranti Maidan, as national monuments.

“How can we keep these places in such bad condition? They should be places of inspiration,” he said after releasing India @ 70 - Revival of India’s Freedom Movement Heritage , a report by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Mumbai and Ratan J. Batliboi Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (RJBCPL) at the Raj Bhavan. The report seeks a time-bound plan for the makeover of places of historic value in Mumbai that had played a critical role in the freedom struggle.

Mr. Rao said he would ask Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to look into this, and write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. He also appealed to people to take up the issue with their elected representatives.

The writer is an intern at The Hindu

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 11:42:31 PM |

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