One of Thane’s oldest

One of Thane?s oldest landmarks, the Cawasji Patell Agiary, completed 225 years this week.

The simple structure near Court Naka that houses the fire temple is hidden behind high walls and foliage.

But worshippers request you to ignore the unpretentious building. ?The agiary is not an imposing structure. But the sentiments it evokes are important, because for over 200 years, it anchored a community to this city,? says Rustom Cursetji, president of the Thana Parsi Zoroastrian Anjuman.

The first Parsi to come to Thane was probably Cawasji Patell (C P Tank is named after him) of Suvali village who was appointed the Patel of Thane in the early 18th century. He founded the agiary and the Tower of Silence. Others followed him.

?Since there were no roads connecting Thane to Mumbai, they came by boat to Kalwa Bunder,? said Noshir Kotwal, a former bank employee who now works as a part-time priest at the agiary.

There are an estimated 1,200 Parsis in Thane, a number that is now stable after declining for decades. But no descendents of the Patell family live in Thane.

The community may form a miniscule part of the million-plus population of Thane. But the city is full of institutions that have Parsi connections like the municipal Wadia dispensary, the Khan Bahadur Divecha town hall, Taraporewala garden and the J J School where Bal Gangadhar Tilak is reported to have studied for a few years.

But despite its old and happy history in Thane, some members of the community said they feel helpless about the encroachments on the agiary property by local politicians.

A house that was used by fire temple servants and pallbearers from the Tower of Silence is still under litigation after it was illegally encroached upon.

To mark the anniversary, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) is reinstalling a stone tablet marking the road?s name as Agiary Lane. The old marker was destroyed when the road was widened.

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