Few things come for free in Mumbai these days. A glass of cold water, thankfully, is something you can still count on.
Since the city’s inception, wealthy traders showed their philanthropic side and left a personal impression on Mumbai's ever-mutating cityscape by building drinking water fountains – locally called
pyaus – for the public.
The city’s oldest
pyaus were built in the mercantile areas of south and central Mumbai to serve the animals and workers who facilitated business at the bazaars.
Built in 1876 in the busy Masjid Bunder area, Seth Keshavji Nayak’s contribution remains one of the city's oldest pyaus that is still functioning. Some ornate fountains from this era can still be found in the Fort area, Mohammed Ali Road, Reay Road, and Bandra, although they no longer quench anyone’s thirst.
In the city's modern suburbs, contemporary design trends have lent a quirky strangeness to philanthropy, where
pyaus compete for attention through the chaos in the shape of coconuts and giant flasks.