Mumbai is one of the dream worlds which never sleeps. It is an epitome of rich heritage and culture, infused with the right balance of resilience, solidarity, and multi-ethnicity. What gives Mumbai a distinct charm and flavor of its own are the places of historical significance. Here are some of the Mumbai's rich historical past.
1) Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Planned originally as the office of the Great Indian Peninsula Railways, and now functioning as the Central Railways headquarters, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or CST - formerly Victoria Terminus - is worth having on your bucket list if you are a history buff, since this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of India’s finest and oldest Victorian-Italianate-Gothic style architectural buildings. A truly historic railway station in Mumbai built in the late 1800s, CST was designed by F. W. Stevens, drawing inspiration from Sir Gilbert Scott’s St Pancras International railway terminus in central London.
The booking office called the Star Chamber. Not surprisingly, CST ranks second on India’s most photographed structures list, after Agra’s Taj Mahal.
2) Gateway of India
Gateway of India remains one of Mumbai’s most iconic monuments. Its construction began in 1911 and was completed in 13 years. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, this beautiful honey-coloured basalt stone monument stands tall with four bartizans and fascinating, intricate latticework.
Located at South Mumbai’s Apollo Bunder road, this signature monument overlooks the Arabian Sea and showcases an inscription mentioning that it was erected to commemorate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in India in December 1911. Earlier the official entrance for Viceroys and new Governors, it continues to remain a chief access point into India.
3) Town Hall
A majestic colonial structure built in the 1800s, Mumbai's Town Hall is one of the most regal and sophisticated heritage structures in the city. Designed by Colonel Thomas Cowper, a premier engineer in the city back in that time, this 200-feet wide, 100-feet tall structure draws inspiration from Roman and Greek architectural styles.
The Town Hall houses a public state library called the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, and its museum is no less than a rich and priceless treasure house of literature, oriental arts, and sciences. It has a collection of ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, and Prakrit, several historic Asian and European books, thousands of ancient coins including a gold 'mohur' belonging to Akbar, Dante's first issue of Inferno, and various other rare treasures of India.
4) August Kranti Maidan
Mumbai’s August Kranti Maidan is one of the most significant historic chapters in India’s journey of the independence struggle. This is where Mahatma Gandhi commanded the British to leave India on August 8, 1942, marking the launch of the Quit India Movement. Formerly called the Gowalia Tank Maidan, the ground was later renamed as August Kranti Maidan to symbolize this historic event.
5) Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is an iconic museum the construction of which began in 1905, based on local 15th and 16th century Gujarati architecture. Known earlier as the Prince of Wales Museum, this breath-taking museum built with local stone showcases the archetypal Indo-Saracenic architecture of designer George Wittet. Archaeology, art, and natural history and the chief sections in this main museum of Mumbai.
6) Mani Bhavan
Located near Wilson College in downtown Mumbai’s Laburnum Road, Mani Bhavan is a significant historical memorial linked to Mahatma Gandhi. This is where he resided from 1917 to 1934 at the time of the Indian freedom struggle.
7) Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
Founded by Sir George Birdwood and designed by William Tracey in 1862, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, formerly called the Victoria and Albert Museum, stands out for its unusual Palladian architectural style in Mumbai, where Gothic styles are usually predominant. The museum has an interesting collection of artifacts and other things that bring alive Mumbai’s intriguing history.
8) Rajabai Clock Tower
The Rajabai Clock Tower (Italianate Clock Tower) was built in 1865 and is a gift by David Sassoon to the designs of Scott, McClelland & Co. This spectacular Gothic-style monument is constructed in Porbandar stone with Minton tile panels and Blashfield's terracotta dressings from Lincolnshire. At the base of the tower is a drinking fountain, and its four prominent faces represent morning, evening, afternoon and night.
9) Mumbai High Court
Designed and built by Colonel James Augustus Fuller, the Mumbai High Court is yet another marvelous English Gothic construction. It is 562 feet long and 187 feet wide, dominated by a large central tower. On either side are octagonal spire-covered towers, crowned by the figures of Mercy and Justice. The façade is made of rich blue basalt, beautified further with Porbandar, Stucco, Sewri, and Coorla stones, and the steeply pitched roofs are covered with rich red tiles.
10) Central Telegraph Office
James Trubshaw designed the Old General Post Office, now re-christened the Central Telegraph Office, in a mediaeval Italian style. The upper part of the building once served as an outdoor dining room for clerks. The Telegraph Office stands opposite the Public Works Office and its main façade faces Vir Nariman Road. It is hard to miss the building’s two conspicuous tall towers with sharply pitched roofs, in between which lies a yawning porte-cochere.
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BY M. DIVYA SRI