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Mumbai's Rough-Hewn Legacy April 4, 2007
text and photographs by Samir S. Patel

Ancient caves are part of the fabric of life in a megacity's suburban slums.


A group of Franciscan monks established a church above Mandapeshwar in 1544, and the cave became the church's crypt. The church collapsed into ruins after 1739, but the local Catholic population continued to use the cave as a chapel, clumsily destroying one of its sculptural panels to make this cross. Hindu figures are still visible in the corners above it. In 1888, another church was built nearby, where it operates a high school, orphanage, and management institute. The church claims ownership of the cave, even though it is under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Because of pending legal action to determine the cave's caretaker, the ASI is unable to demarcate, survey, protect, or conserve the site, as they say they plan to do at Jogeshwari.  Next >>

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Samir S. Patel is an associate editor at ARCHAEOLOGY.

© 2007 by the Archaeological Institute of America