Powai had been a traditional wooded outskirt of Mumbai ever since. In the ancient times it has found mention in the Marathi history alongwith Mahim. The Padmavati Devi Temple in the precincts of IIT dates way back to the 10th Century A.D. as per Archeological Survey of India. The genesis of the name Powai possibly came from the word "POUMWI" which would have been corrupted from the word "POUMA" which also means "PADMA" in Sanskrit.
Powai was once a princely estate belonging to Sir Mohammed Yusuf. In 1943 just before independence the Freedom Fighter Chandrabhan Sharma arrived in Bombay and happened to lease and subsequently buy Powai Estate in a strange twist of fate from Sir Yusuf for a paltry sum. Powai comprised of five villages : Saki, Kopri, Tirandaz, Powai and Paspauli then.
In the late fifties a portion of Powai was given to the Government to set up Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had personally come to finalise the area and on meeting Chandrabhan Sharma motivated him to give the land at no cost in the name of Nation. At the same time a young engineer from US called Toubro had got a major contract in Mumbai and had leased vast tracts of land to L&T from Sharmas.
Powai's modernisation started with Sharma's construction business in 1975 under the flagship of GHP Corp. Prashant Apts was the first modern Bldg to come up in Powai after IIT followed by the 13 storey Bhawani Tower.
The modern or the new Powai came into existence after 1985 when the Hiranandanis got permission from the government to convert this agricultural land to residential complex. They purchased vast tracts of land between Powai hill & Powai lake from the Sharma Family & Annapurna Farms belonging to the Dharias & Ghambirs. These jungles saw themselves being converted to a planned township by the vision of Hiranandani Builder to what it look today. Hafeez contractor's elevation and facade has completely changed the skyline which now has become a role model being emulated by other builders in India.
Many reputed builders are developing residential and commercial complexes with excellent amenities and facilities. Hiranandani and K.Raheja are providing not only state-of-the-art amenities, but also at affordable rates. Several MNCs, e.g. Colgate, Bayer, and FedEx, with a few other well-known software companies have moved in. A few companies have also shifted their offices from Nariman Point to Powai. Recently, it has seen concentration of BPO centres here like Zenta, Wipro-Spectramind, Lehman Bros, Prudential etc to name a few which have a new dimension of commercial mix.
Powai, like other growing suburbs, is seeing the arrival of multiplexes. .Huma Adlabs in vicinity is already functional. Hiranandani Construction is coming up with a multiplex, which will include commercial offices, a family entertainment center, a shopping complex, restaurants, banks, etc. Transportation facility is improving at Powai. Flyovers opened at Gandhinagar and on L&T are going to ease out traffic congestion once the JVLR project gets completed, hopefully by Feb 2007. This will definitely, be a plus point to attract more buyers in the residential sector. It is estimated by real estate pundits that property will appreciate by 15 to 20% on competition of this East to West corridor.
It has a good infra-structure of schools like Hiranandani Foundation School, SM Shetty School, Gopal Sharma Memorial school, Bombay Scottish School and Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT. Recently two junior college have been added to Shetty and Gopal Sharma. Thr one year old Hiranandani Hospital has fulfilled the need for a sophisticated in vicinity. The malls at Haiko, D’ Mart and Ajahara are plentiful stores making it a self contained township.