Shivaji Park originated in 1925 by the Bombay Municipal Corporation, amid British Rule. It was known then as the Mahim Park until 1927, when it was renamed after the 17th century king of the region, Shivaji, at the behest of a municipal councilor, Avantika Gohkale. The Shivaji Park Gymkhana, then known as the Dadar Hindu Gymkhana, opened its first Tennis court on the grounds in 1927 and inaugurated its pavilion in November 1931.
Besides being a venue for gatherings of freedom fighters in British India, after independence in 1947, Shivaji Park was the focal point of the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalval (the struggle for a consolidated Maharashtra) that led to the present Indian state of Maharashtra being formed in 1960. During this period, the legendary writer, journalist, playwright, poet and social leader Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atre led this movement, addressing crowds of hundreds of thousands at this ground, earning him the title of the ‘Lord of Shivaji Park’.
Shivaji Park has been integral to the political gatherings of the local political party Shiv Sena, and has witnessed numerous other political rallies. In May 2010, the Bombay High Court declared the ground a silence zone after local residents filed a public interest litigation suit in September 2009, complaining about the noise pollution in the area on account of political rallies and gatherings.
The late Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray had been holding gatherings and rallies at this iconic Shivaji Park. Even Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated in a massive manner to which people from various States in Maharashtra come and congregate at this Shivaji Park. Balasaheb Thackeray used to hold Dusshera Rally here which now is being done by his son Uddhav Thackeray.
Notably, in 1966 the Dusshera Rally hosted by Balasaheb Thackeray played a crucial role in establishing the Shiv Sena and shaped the party’s future in Mumbai and Maharashtra as a whole. Its success made it an annual tradition for the party.
The Shivaji Park marked many landmarks for the Sena through the years.
The year 2010, saw the launch of the youth wing, Yuva Sena on October 17, under the leadership of then 20-year-old Aaditya Thackeray, grandson of Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray.
It was in the year 2019 that Aaditya Thackeray from the Thackeray clan contested an election, and got elected as an MLA from the Worli assembly constituency.
Shiv Sainiks referred to Shivaji Park as Shivteerth. This was the place where the Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray was cremated in 2012 with full state honours. And this was the place where Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray took oath as Chief Minister in 2019.
Shiv Sena has been organising the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park annually. But in 2020, when it was conducted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, it was held in Shanmukhananda hall in Sion, to limit the crowd amid the pandemic, even though some restrictions were lifted by the state government.
The significance of Shivaji Park is that Sena leaders, party workers and supporters from across Maharashtra travel to Mumbai annually to attend rallies and Jayanti of
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. People in thousands travel to Mumbai from various States of Maharashtra for it.
Notably, the Dussehra Melava 2022 at Shivaji Park, is a 12-year saga of legal battles.
Shivaji Park Grounds is also termed as the cradle of Indian cricket. It is home to eight prestigious cricket clubs that are proud of producing a few of the best international Indian cricketers. Among the most celebrated cricketers are Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Vijay Manjrekar, and Ramakant Desai
Who were trained at this very Shivaji Park Grounds. Many Ranji Trophy Tournaments have been held here.
Today, the park boasts a modern Gymkhana, a Ganpati Mandir, a small children’s park besides the statue of
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and Balasaheb Thackeray
News Input : K.V.Raman