Laxmi Nivas, one of the last remaining storied bungalows in south Mumbai’s tony Nepean Sea Road, that had served as a secret hideout for freedom fighters in the ’40s, has been put up on the block. The Kapadia family, that owns the property, is currently in the market to sell the legacy bungalow after owning it for the over a century.
The sea-view bungalow, steeped in history , was home to Ram Manohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Achyut Patwardhan and Aruna Asaf Ali during the peak of Quit India movement in the ’40s, and it was also the broadcasting centre for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Radio during this period.
With a built-up area of around 20,000 sq ft, the bungalow is spread over nearly half an acre of land parcel diagonally opposite the Russian consulate on old Nepean Sea Road.The Kapadia family had bought the three-storied bungalow from a Parsee family for about `1.20 lakh in 1917. Currently , the land parcel has a development potential of around 45,000 sq ft built-up area.
The matriarch of the family , Usha Banerjee, who was a 12-year-old then, fondly recalls her interaction with the freedom fighters who had stayed back at the bungalow under their pseudo names.
“We, as kids, did not know who these people were. It was only when I saw Lohiaji writing with a pen that had his name engraved on it, that I asked him about his identity and then learnt from my father about them,” Banerjee told ET while confirming that the bungalow is indeed being sold.
Between 1942 and 1945, Laxmi Nivas was one of the safe houses used by the freedom fighters to evade the British.
“Jawaharlal Nehru had also visited our house on a few occasions to hold meetings with them (freedom fighters) here. Jaiprakash Narayan corresponded with Gandhiji through letters while staying in our house,” Banerjee said while recalling that her father, a textile mer chant, also used to deliver these letters stealthily.
“Real estate assets of this stature do not come into the market often and it is already generating good interest,” said Nikhil Bhatia, MD Capital Markets at CBRE India, the transaction advisor.
Nepean Sea Road, in the pre-Independence days, used to house palaces of most princely states including Bikaner Palace, Kutch Castle and Wakaner House and was also home to many high-ranking British officers.
Over the past few years, several bungalows in South Mumbai’s plush localities of Carmichael Road, Altamount Road, Nepean Sea Road and Malabar Hill have given way to luxury skyscrapers. Several industrialists and the superrich have either been buying or scouting for bungalows for their personal use here.
In 2015, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla emerged as the highest bidder for the sea-facing, 30,000-sq-ft, Jatia House, in Malabar Hill. The Aditya Birla Group chairman paid ` 425 crore for the property, making it the most expensive bungalow deal ever in India then, surpassing the 2012, ` 400 crore, Maheshwari House transaction.
Soon after, Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Poonawalla Group, emerged as the highest bidder for the US consulate’s Lincoln House at Breach Candy for ` 750 crore, making this the costliest transaction for the house.
In 2014, the Godrej family had acquired Mehrangir, the house of Homi Bhabha, father of India’s nuclear programme, in Malabar Hill for 372 crore.
Source: ET Realty