Powai (Marathi: पवई) // is a suburban neighborhood located in the north-east of Mumbai, India. It is situated on the banks of Powai Lake, and is bounded by the hills of Vikhroli Parksite to the south-east, Chandivali to the south-west, the L.B.S. Marg (old Mumbai-Agra road) to the north-east and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to the north beyond the lake. The Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares linking the western and eastern suburbs, passes through Powai, and the place also hosts thousands of devotees every year during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival for the visarjan processions. Powai is served by Mumbai's only airport, located 5 km away; and by the Vikhroli and Kanjur Marg railway stations on the Central line.
Originally a central village, Powai has grown prolifically and exponentially in recent years to become one of Mumbai's most upmarket commercial and residential hubs. The Hiranandani Gardens, an integrated residential township, is one among the many residential complexes located here along with a number of luxury hotels, mega stores and the offices of several commercial institutions, such as Nomura, CRISIL, Deloitte, Bayer among others. Larsen and Toubro, one of India's oldest multinational conglomerates, has a manufacturing plant at Powai. The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, established in 1958 and currently the second oldest campus of the Indian Institutes of Technology as well as the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, established in 1963 are both located here, as is a campus of the Bombay Scottish School, Mumbai. Powai is also home to residential complexes of the Income Tax department, Customs and NTPC, as well as those of ex-servicemen.
As a result of the mixture of various communities living together, the suburb has one of the city's most cosmopolitan and modernized cultures. The place has a vibrant night-life, and shoots for several Bollywood as well as Hollywood movies, such as Kalyug, Ghajini, Slumdog Millionaire etc. have taken place here. The Hiranandani Gardens are also known for their neo classical architectural style, and the area boasts of having some of the tallest residential buildings in suburban Mumbai.
The word Powai is thought to have possibly been derived from the word Poumw, a corrupted form of Pouma which means Padma in Sanskrit. This is due to the fact that the Padmavati Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Padmavati and situated on the bank of the Powai lake inside IIT Bombay, dates back to the 10th century AD as per the Archeological Survey of India . The present location of Powai Lake is believed to have been the original Powai Valley—a central village, with several clusters of huts each having its own well. It was named after Framaji Kavasji Powai Estate, which was given to one Dr Scott in 1799 on payment of yearly rent of Rs 3,200. After Dr Scott’s death in 1816, Powai was taken back by the government in 1826 and leased once again to Framaji Kavasji, a Parsi merchant. The authorities during the British regime intended to augment the water supply to Bombay City by creating a lake, and in 1890 Powai Lake was built by the British at an initial cost of Rs 6.5 lakh. At the time, Powai lake supplied two million gallons of water to Bombay. However, the nearby Vihar Lake became a more viable option due to the fact that the authorities found that the waters of the Powai lake polluted and unfit for drinking. Various studies were conducted which repeatedly confirmed these findings till finally the project was abandoned. Powai Lake was then leased out to the Western India Fishing Association, a quasi government organization who used it for both fish culture and angling. In 1943, four years before India's independence, the freedom fighter Chandrabhan Sharma arrived in Mumbai and happened to lease and subsequently buy Powai Estate from Sir Yusuf, the then owner, for a paltry sum. At that time, Powai comprised five villages: Saki, Kopri, Tirandaz, Powai and Paspauli. In the late 1950s, a portion of Powai was given to the government to set up an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The Prime Minister,Jawaharlal Nehru, personally visited the area and during a meeting, Chandrabhan Sharma motivated him to give the land free of cost for this purpose. Simultaneously, a young engineer from Denmark, Søren Kristian Toubro had obtained a major contract in Mumbai. As a result, vast tracts of land were leased to him by Mr. Sharma to set up what would become Larsen and Toubro. Powai's modernisation started with Mr. Sharma's construction business in 1975 under the flagship of GHP Corporation. Prashant Apts was the first modern building to come up in Powai, followed by the 13-floor Bhawani Tower. After 1985, the Hiranandani builders obtained permission from the government to convert this agricultural land to residential complex. They went on to purchase vast tracts of land between the Vikhroli hill & Powai lake and set up the present day township. Today, the prevalence of amenities such as shopping malls, hospitals, schools and educational institutions like the IIT and NITIE, entertainment hubs, banks and other financial institutions have all contributed to Powai becoming an ideal residential destination.
Powai is a part of the Mumbai Suburban District, located in the north-eastern region of what is today considered to be the modern Mumbai metropolis. Administratively, it is a part of the Kurla tehsil and much of the area falls within the boundaries of the S-ward, the largest ward in Mumbai. Powai is situated on the banks of its namesake lake and boasts of a recently revamped, landscaped garden with viewing decks, a children’s play area and synchronized fountains. The privately run Dr. L. H. Hiranandani Hospital, located within the Hiranandani residential complex, is the first superspeciality hospital in the area. Powai is also home to offices of several multinational corporations as well as that ofpublic sector undertakings.
As a result of prolific construction activity in the last two decades, the area has one of the highest residential population densities in suburban Mumbai. The development in the region has, however had an adverse impact on the environment, with the area facing the ill-effects of excessive concretization, resulting in a shrinking number of open spaces, green cover and rising pollution levels.
The Powai Lake gives the area its name, and is one of the three lakes located within Mumbai . Perhaps the best-known landmark of Powai is the Powai Lake, a 120-year-old lake that was originally used to supply water to the city of Mumbai, and is today used as an industrial sewage outlet. Another prominent landmark that most outsiders associate Powai with, is the prestigious IIT Bombay, located to the east of the lake. The campus of the NITIE is located near the north bank of the lake, as is the Renaissance Hotel and Convention centre, part of the Marriott group of hotels, with its distinctive facade visible across the Powai lake.