The area around Banganga is probably one of the oldest living areas of present day Mumbai and not surprisingly, holds a special charm. The Banganga Tank, is a rectangular tank – a typical temple tank like many across India. It is fairly large in size and has temples all around it. The tank itself must have been treated like a temple, which is evident from the Deepstambhas (lampposts) that you can see at the entry points. The stairs all around lead into the water and to the ducks playing in the water. You can see buildings of various heights reflected in the water here: primarily, the temple and their shikharas, then houses of the people who live around here and then the tall buildings. The waters of the tank reflect the riot of images that is so typical of Mumbai – where generations, styles, eras, and different strata of society come together, as if bound by the very water of the tank.
Often called the mini-Banaras of Mumbai, this freshwater tank, along with the neighbouring Walkeshwar temple, was built in AD 1127 by Lakshman Prabhu, a Goud Saraswat Brahmin minister in the court of the Silhara dynasty of Thane. The site holds immense mythological significance among the Hindus. Legend has it that when Lord Ram and Lakshman were on their way to find Sita, they stopped here at the ashram of Rishi Gautam. To quench their thirst, Rama shot an arrow in the earth, releasing Ganga (holy water), which was underground. Additionally, Lakshman used to travel every day to Kashi to fetch the Shivalinga that Ram used to worship for his daily Puja. One day, Lakshman did not return in time and Ram, using the sand available here created a Linga and worshipped it. The Shivalinga came to be known as ‘Valu-ka-Ishwar’ meaning ‘God made of Sand’ and over a period of time the term got distorted to Walkeshwar. There are several ‘mutts’ like Kashi Mutt, Kaiwalye Mutt, and Kawle Mutt located in this area. A temple dedicated to Parshuram is another attraction here, though I must warn you that architecturally all temples are quite ordinary.
Banganga is meant to be free for all to visit. Everyday noise and stress can take a backseat here. The place definitely has a certain calm about it. Besides, wouldn’t Banganga be an amazing sight to view, considering most of us are living in concrete jungles these days? Plus, photography lovers can expect to get some stunning shots here. So when you’re in Mumbai, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Banganga tank – a little piece of history and culture surrounded by high-rise luxury apartments, all in Mumbai’s exclusive Malabar Hill area.