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Home > Discover Mumbai > Sight Seeing > Mumbai >Heritage Buildings

 Heritage Buildings 

Prince of Wales Museum

Prince of Wales MusuemIn the early years of the twentieth century, some prominent citizens of Bombay decided to set up a Museum with the help of the government to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales. The committee spared no effort to realize this dream. On March 1, 1907, the then government of Bombay handed over to the museum committee a spot of land known as the, 'Crescent Site'. Round the corner of the Bombay Yacht Club, now taken over by the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, stands the Prince of Wales Museum. The foundation was laid by the future George V, on his Indian visit of 1905. The Prince of Wales Museum is a vast complex of buildings, given character and cohesion by a monumental tiled concrete dome, all finished in blue basalt and yellow sandstone from Kurla and set in gardens where the light throws arabesques onto the textured coloured stone. Designed by George Wittet, the foundation stone was laid in 1905 by the visiting Prince of Wales. Built in 1914, the Museum has an Art section besides Archaeological and Natural History sections. Paintings of Ajanta, Ellora and other historical places are also on view here. The building was converted to a military hospital during World War I and finally opened in 1923 by Lady Lloyd, the wife of Sir George Lloyd, the then Governor.

University Hall & Library with Rajabai Tower

One of the most outstanding landmarks of Mumbai. The Rajabhai Towerfamous banker and merchant of the nineteenth century, the late Seth Premchand Raichand as a memorial, built the Tower to his beloved mother Rajabai. Designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, it is a mixture of Gothic and early ornamental French style. The Tower is 260 feet high.
Standing between the Secretariat and the Law Courts are the most distinguished of Gothic Revival buildings. Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most gifted architects of the 19th century was the architect of the hisorical structure. Scott's adaptation of the Italian Gothic style revels in the freedom to design an authentic style, unhindered by the concessions to the climate which were necessary in England. The result is one of his finest, yet one of his least known works -- a building perfectly related to the climate: cool, efficient and highly functional. The University Hall was funded by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney, and is designed in the early French style of the 15th century with an ecclesiastical air about it. The south end is separated from the main body of the Hall by a grand arch. The highlight of the University is the Library and the Clock Tower, completed in 1878. Though Scott never visited India, he was able to indulge his knowledge and love of Italian and French Gothic, to a great extent. Around the octagonal crown stand sculpted figures representing the castes of Western India and above these are another set of figures, all modelled by the then assistant engineer, Rao Bahadur Makund Ramachandra. Although the location and figures may be Indian, the inspiration is Italian.

Bombay Municipal Buildings

The foundation stone for the offices of the Bombay Municipal Bombay Municipal CorporationCorporation was laid on December 9, 1884, by the Viceroy, Lord Ripon. The Gothic design by F W Stevens was selected over the Indo-Saracenic design submitted by R F Chisholm. Completed in 1893, the building has a 255 feet tall tower, has a vast office complex standing at the apex of two roads opposite the Terminus.The structure remains unsurpassed in British India for sheer ebullience. The winged figure crowning the central gable is Urbs Prima in Indis, a personification of the most important city in India. Adapted to the climatic extremes of Mumbai, The Gothic architechture found its resolution in controlled composition. The window arches are cusped, the corner towers elaborately domed. The vast domed staircase tower triumphantly proclaims the then British supremacy to the world at the zenith of the Empire.

Taj Mahal Hotel

The Taj Mahal Hotel was built in 1903, adjacent to the Taj Mahal HotelBombay Yacht Club and its inception was due to Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata, one of the wealthiest Parsees in the city, a man of enormous power and influence with diverse interests in iron and steel, hydro-electricity, shipping and banking. The hotel, designed by W Chambers, who worked for a local practice, was one of the great hotels of the British Empire. It is located on a magnificent site, facing out over the Arabian Sea, at that time to greet new arrivals as they steamed in on the great liners. The building is reputed to have many allusions to Gujarati architecture, but really is an eclectic mixture calculated to whet the curiosity of the visitor. It is predictably symmetrical, and over its centre rises a huge red dome crowned by a belvedere (a small room on the roof of a house). Each corner boasts a domed circular tower. The second-to-fourth floors have six projecting canopied balconies and the ground floor has a cool arcade.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Popularly known as Bori Bunder, and previously also called asVictoria Terminus a Victoria Terminus (VT), a new terminus for the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, at the time the largest and most extensive architectural work in India. This massive Italian Gothic style building was built in 1888. It is one of the biggest railway terminus of the East. It is the terminus or last stop or the starting of the Central Railway (CR) trains. Nearby this you will find a buildings of Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, General Post Office (GPO), Times of India etc. The Victoria Terminus station is the finest example of Victorian Gothic architecture in India. It was inspired by Sir George Gilbert Scott St. Pancras Station in London, and was erected between 1878 and 1887. It is highly original though rooted firmly in the tradition of Scott, Ruskin, and Burges. The building epitomises the spirit of the age and it stands as a paen of praise to the railway, which more than any other factor was a catalyst in the rise of Mumbai. The Terminus is a symmetrical building and is surmounted by a colossal masonry dome. Beneath the dome, the stairs rise in solemn sweeps to each floor. The booking hall is spanned by pointed arches with wooden vaulted ceilings, decorated with stars on an azure background. The lower part of the wall is clad in glazed tiles of rich foliated designs. The windows are filled with stained glass or ornamental wrought iron grille-work, to reduce the sun's glare. The whole Terminus cost a wondrous 250,000 pounds. In the corridor at the entrance leading to the main hall, the vaulting has richly carved animals. The enormous 14-foot high statue of Progress crowning the dome is the work of Thomas Earp, as are the richly carved stone medallions which adorn the front elevation. Victoria Terminus, now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is a sensation in architecture, both in perspective and in detail.

Horniman Circle and the Town Hall

What is now known as Horniman Circle was once called theHorniman Circle and the Town Hall Elphinstone Circle. Charles Forjett, who was the municipal commissioner of Mumbai in the 1860s, was responsible for turning the central part of the old Green into Elphinstone Circle (Horniman Circle), making an elegant hub for an otherwise unplanned Fort, and retaining Mumbai's oldest open space. This the first example in the city of civic planning on a grand scale, to a scheme conceived by the then governor, Frere's predecessor Sir George Clerk. Horniman Circle bears eloquent testimony to the ideals of the new administration. Planned around the focus of the Town Hall and it's classical architecture, it comprises a circle, with central gardens surrounded by ornamental iron railings imported from England. The Town Hall today houses the Asiatic Society. It was commenced in 1820, but it took over fifteen years to complete. It cost over 60,000 pounds. The building was designed by Colonel Thomas Cowper, Bombay engineer, and completed after his death in 1825 by various others, but principally by Charles Waddington. It is the finest neo-classical building in India, with several unique adaptations to the climate. The fašade is a massive composition in a Greek Doric order. The most beautiful of the structure are the Doric columns, which were made in England. The interior of the building was completed by Waddington. On the ground floor, he installed four splendid Ionic columns copied from a Greek Temple. Elsewhere in the building is some excellent statuary with figures of Elphinstone, Forbes and Malcolm, all by Chantrey.

Arthur Crawford Market

Named after its founder Arthur Crawford, is Mumbai's Arthur Crawford Marketlargest and best-organised marketing centre. Here you get anything from flowers and fruits to fowl and fish. It is now renamed after the Social Worker Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. Arthur Crawford, the Crawford Market is at the northern end of the old British part of the town, and faces the crowded inner city. An elegant covered market, it dominates the skyline with its clock tower and steeple. The cavernous spaces inside are divided into sections for fruits, vegetables and meat. The building, completed in 1869, was donated to the city by Cowasji Jehangir. The friezes on the outside walls and the stone fountains inside were designed by Lockwood Kipling. It was the main wholesale market for fruits in Bombay until March 1996, when the wholesale traders were relocated to New Bombay. Arthur Crawford Markets, brought to fruition by the municipal commissioner of the same name, at the cost of 160,000 pounds. The building is supposedly 12th century Gothic and is supposed to have the echoes of the stables of William Burges. The Arthur Crawford Market stands on a corner site, and like an English country market building, has a prominent clock tower, crowned by a cupola, with a gable to each frontage and open galleries, now infilled. The main entrance is through three semi-circular arches, above which are bas-reliefs by John Lockwood Kipling, depicting the imperial ideal of strong-limbed peasants under a 'beneficent' imperial sun. Inside the market lies a drinking fountain designed by Emerson, and executed by Kipling. Today, it is overwhelmed by stalls. Crawford Market still comfortably houses huge meat, vegetable and fish markets.

Gateway of India

Apollo Pier is called the Gateway of India. It was built in theGateway of India memory of the late King George V and Queen Mary to commensurate their visit in December 1911. It is one of the favourite evening resorts. Statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Swami Vivekanand have been installed just opposite the Gateway of India. George Wittet, consulting architect to the city of Bombay, was the designer of the last great building of the British rule in Bombay, the Gateway of India. It was intended as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911, en route to the Delhi Durbar. The arch of the Gateway was actually a part of a much wider scheme which Wittet intended for the area, but it never came to fruition. As a result, it today looks a little isolated and unaligned with the axis of the former Yacht Club. These architectural imperfections are lost on the casual visitor and are visible only to the discerning eye. Historically, the Gateway of India remains the spot where almost 300 years of colonialism ended and where the last British troops departed from, a slow setting of the sun over the British Empire.

By : Sharmistha Chakraborty

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