Sion. I hated my topic for Surface Exploration Project in Modern Archaeology. I was absolutely certain there won’t be anything unique or interesting about the sleepy town of Sion. And boy…how wrong was I!
My research project on Sion was a huge success and has been the turning point of my life. Quite literally. From getting my research published in Bombay Local History Society’s Journal to conducting a Heritage Walk for UNESCO, Sion has given me a lot of triumphs!
ये एक पोस्ट मेरे सायन के नाम…Here’s a sneak-peek into Sion!
Aagla station “Sheev” Pudhil station “Sheev” Next station “Sion”
This is what we normally hear in the local trains, but have we ever pondered as to why this place came to be known as “Sion” in English and “Sheev” in Marathi?
For a really good break from the daily routine, get off that local train and take a tour into the calm forts and the buzzing Bazaars of Sion, right in the heart of the Mumbai.
Sion is the last locality within the city limits of Mumbai. It, in the olden days, was a small hamlet inhabited only by the koli folks. Sion was in Marathi, the local language, called as “Sheev” meaning a boundary or the limit, Sion being the boundary between the two islands of Bombay and Salsette.
In 1534, the Portuguese forced Bahadur Shah, The Sultan of Gujarat out of Bombay. The Portuguese made grants of islands and villages of Bombay to the Franciscans and Jesuits. A Franciscans Priest then erected Our Lady of Good Counsel Church at Sion. It is also believed that this Church, situated near the Railway station was built and named after the “Mount Zion” in Jeruselum. Zion when Anglicized came to be known more popularly as “Sion”.
“Sion” in Hebrew also means “the highest point”, as there were many hills and hillocks in this area overlooking the island city of Bombay may be that is the reason this area came to be known as “Sion”.
Sion As We See It Today:
The whole area of Sion in the earlier century was a desolate waste of saltpans guarded by the bare hills of the Antop, Raoli, and Sion.Except for the original settlements of the Kolis and a few barracks the area was practically habitation free.
The year 1872 saw an immense Growth of Population and continuous building operations
Today the Sion section includes all the areas of the King’s Circle, of the main suburb and till the narrow strip of land on the side of the harbor branch of railways, south of the King’s Circle station till the Wadala station. The whole of Sion comprised of 4,261.08 acres.
It was included in the “F” ward under the new Municipality in 1865 along with Mahim, Varli and other adjacent areas.
The uniqueness of Sion:
- Sion has access to three Railway Stations that is a very unique feature in Mumbai. Sion, King’s Circle and Guru TekhBahadur Nagar stations on central and habour lines respectively.
- Sion being situated in the heart of Mumbai acts as an access point to the various suburbs of Mumbai, Kurla in the Central Suburbs, Bandra of the Western Suburbs and via Mankhurd into Navi Mumbai.
- Sion was planned under the Town Planning Act, 1966. Hence the Roads and the streets of Sion were numbered and not named. But in the last century, many roads were named.
Places of Historical Importance:
- Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, the early origins of this Church situated right next to the Sion Station are very obscure. However, it is one of the oldest places in Sion. Based on historical evidence we can date it back to the late 17th or early 18th century, but it may have been built in the earlier centuries.
- The Sion fort, situated on a conical hill and one of the three important forts of Bombay also held an important place during the Maratha period. The fort is classified as a national monument and is under the control of the Central The height of Sion Fort was 239ft.
- The Duncan Causeway was built to fill the breach between the Sion, the eastern limit of the Island of Bombay and the Island of Salsette Till 1979 the Road was called as Duncan Road, named after the Governor of Bombay who built it. Later it was renamed as NS Mankikar Marg. The Municipal Sewage Pumping Station, Sion( Udayachan Kendra ) is situated on this causeway.
- The world war garrison, octagonal in shape is still standing on this causeway right next to the Municipal Sewage Pumping Station, in what is now known as the Jadhav Wadi. It was a once a high structure as the locals say they could not touch its ceiling but now it is barely a 6ft in height. It had six to seven openings or posts to fire, as can be seen from inside.
- The Milestones, marking VII miles, VIII miles and IX miles from St. Thomas’s Church are to be found in Sion. These milestones are Grade I Heritage structures in Mumbai.
- The SionKoliwada/GTB Nagar: The koli’s of Sion are the original inhabitants of Sion. It was a small hamlet of Koli’s. Hence the place was called as Koliwada. After partition, many refugees from Sindh and Pakistan settled in these areas. Hence many Sindhi colonies came up. Due to which this area also came to be known as Guru Tekh Bahadur Nagar.
- The Rewa Fort is right next to Sion Station and also houses a Boys Hostel of the AyurvediyaPrasarakMandal and its Ayurvidayala. The fort also has a few houses of the native Kolis and some from Pathare-Prabhu community. It also has a Sanitarium built in the late 18th
- The Sion Hosptial was first known as the Dharavee Military Hospital during World War II. In 1953 the hospital got the new status of being a Teaching Hospital. The current Dean and the Head of the College is Dr. AvinashSupe. ( M.S., M.H.P.E. ).
- The famous Gandhi Market of Sion is perhaps Asia’s largest retail cloth market. It was started in 1949 by the displaced persons from Pakistan, Sindh, and Punjab after the partition. In 1960 the Municipal Corporation developed this into a pucca market. The current Market Inspector is Mr. G.S.Adrekar.
- The Shanmukhanand Sabha was established by a band of lovers of classical music and dance on 14th of April, 1944. The Shanmukhanand auditorium is the biggest and the most magnificent one in Bombay. It is the largest fully air-conditioned auditorium with the best and the latest acoustics. It has been renovated after the unfortunate fire incidence.
- The Archaeological Survey of India has its office functioning with effect from the 1st December 2004 in Sion.
PS: This is the synopsis of my research paper. To read the full paper click here. The images are from the Heritage Walk that I conduct in Sion. If you want to join me for one, just let me know and we will fix a date 🙂
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