One Of India’s Most Famous Beaches Renamed

Girgaum Chowpatty is one of the oldest and most famous beaches in Mumbai, India. Now, this beach is getting a new name – Swaraj Bhoomi. The previous name, Chowpatty, is actually considered generic in the Mumbai region, and two other beaches, Dadar and Juhu, also bear that name.

The name change was decided by the BJP led state government in compliance with a request from the Lokmanya Tilak Gaurav Samiti group.

The location where Lokmanya Tilak was cremated, as well as the spot that is now a garden, will be renamed Swaraj Bhoomi. Tilak is considered by the Indian people as a pioneer in the belief of self-rule over British rule. Born Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, he was honorably given the title “Lokmanya” meaning ‘accepted by the people.’ A monument was requested for the spot of Tikak’s cremation, but that was not approved, as it was believed there would be difficulty in receiving environmental clearance to do so.

Tilak died at his home, Sardar Griha, on August 1, 1920. The last rites for the activist were conducted at Girgaum Chowpatty beach, where a bronze statue was also erected in tribute.

Reports state that initially, it was confusing whether or not the name change would apply to just the garden or the entire area. However, an official from the chief minister’s office established that it included the entire area of the former Chowpatty beach.

Journalists reported that people living in the area were not happy about the change of names since the beach had been called Chowpatty for more than thirty years. As such, area citizens will most likely continue using the old name; the official name change, on the other hand, will be implemented as a public relations measure.

Gaurav Samiti had first requested the name change a year ago, when the group first approached, what was at that time, a Congress NCP government. However, they didn’t receive any answer.

Regardless, Devendra Fadnavis, then the president of the BJP and now the chief minister, was a supporter of the request. According to Fadnavis, the request represented Tilak’s quote, which states that freedom was their (Indians) birthright. The city historian, Rafique Baghdadi, also added that he believed that there was no problem with connecting the beach’s name to the history of the area because Tilak had made many contributions there.