Shivaji Park is one of Mumbai’s most important open spaces and is situated in the central Dadar area of the city . Like the Azad Maidan and August Kranti Maidan (formerly Gowalia Tank Grounds), it is also of immense historical and cultural value because of the amount of political and social gatherings it has witnessed, both in pre- and post-independence Mumbai.
Its name is in homage to the legendary 15th century Hindu warrior king of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji, who created a powerful Maratha kingdom and was mainly responsible for crippling the autocratic rule of the Mughals across India by engaging them in numerous intense battles. An interesting fact to note is that this ground which was created in 1925 by the Bombay Municipal Corporation, has been so named in the days of British India. By naming it thus, the British authorities in Mumbai (then Bombay) acknowledged the greatness of Shivaji and the reverence his name commanded amongst the local Marathi population. Ironically, in his time Shivaji had also foreseen the ulterior motives of the British East India Company and challenged the growing British presence in India.
Besides being a venue for mammoth gatherings of freedom fighters in British India, after independence Shivaji Park has been the focal point of the ‘Samyukta Maharashtra Chalval’ (struggle for a consolidated Maharashtra) that led to the present Maharashtra state being formed in 1960. During this period, the legendary writer, journalist, playwright, poet and social leader Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atre led this movement with his mesmerizing speeches, addressing crowds of lakhs at this ground, earning him the distinct title of ‘Lord of Shivaji Park’. Also, on India’s victory over Pakistan in 1965 war, then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and defence minister Yeshwantrao Chawhan addressed a ‘Vijaysabha’ (victory gathering) at this very ground. Shivaji Park has also been integral to the political gatherings of the local party Shiv Sena, and has held numerous other political rallies…