Earlier called the Victoria and Albert Museum, Oldest museum in Mumbai, rare relics on display.
Ancient Indian Caves
Take a ferry from Gateway of India to the Elephanta Caves – Ornately sculpted, 7th-century cave temple on Island.
Moving through the Haji Ali stretch, you come to Worli. Here is located the Nehru Science Centre.
Nehru planetarium was commissioned in 1977 and designed by one of India’s finest architects I.M.Kadri. It is run by Nehru Centre, a trust headed by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra State and whose General Secretary is Dr. Raja Ramana, an eminent Indian nuclear scientist. An astronomical exhibition, comprising of 40 exhibits (transparencies & working model) explain the cosmos.
In the auditorium, a breathtaking ‘Sky Show’ captures the very essence of the Milky Way (Akashganga). Two hundred projectors are simultaneously trained onto a hemispherical ceiling made of aluminium. The effect is realistic and it is not surprising that the planetarium has attracted 3 million visitors so far. Children below five years of age not allowed into the Sky Theatre.
Image Source: Nehru Centre
Laburnum Road, Gamdevi, Mumbai
One kilometre away from Khotachi Wadi is Mani Bhavan, the Bombay residence of Mahatama Gandhi. It is a two storeyed house which has the Gandhi Museum.
There is a reference library stocked with over 20,000 books, a photo exhibition of Gandhi’s life and well-preserved memorabilia including an old charkha (spinning wheel) which belonged to the Mahatama.
Timings are from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, on all weekdays.
Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort, Mumbai
Walking for ten minutes down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, from the Prince of Wales Museum, you come to the Town Hall, a colonnaded structure resting atop a huge flight of stone steps. The Hall is a majestic landmark with its parquet floors, spiral staircases, wrought iron loggias and old marble statues of long -forgotten city founders.
Located here is the Asiatic Library, a rather stodgy ‘institution’ of the bygone days as it still follows the practice of offering membership only to worthy citizens.
The Asiatic library has a teak lined athenaeum stacked with over 8,00,000 antique volumes including the invaluable first edition copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy. You will also find here an amazing numismatic collection of 10,000 antique coins with a rare gold mohur belonging to the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Despite the crack in the walls, the musty air and the paucity of funds, the Library still has a few loyal patrons who can be seen poring over the newspapers, daily Timings: 10:30 am to 5:00 pm except Sundays and holidays.
Completed in 1864, The Flora Fountain was erected by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India out of a donation by Cursetjee Fardoonjee Parekh and is today, the hub of activity in town.
The area is barely ten minutes away by foot from Victoria Terminus station but this travel time stretches to an easy twenty-five minutes as you edge past vendors and their wares which clog the pavements along with the pedestrian traffic. Stalls selling books (old and new), magazines, newspapers, sex shop gizmos, cheap toys, Tee shirts, fake imported perfumes and aftershaves, flashy watches, shoes, bags, umbrellas, plastic items, Gucci lookalike sunglasses, stationery, cameras, cellphones, posters of Bollywood stars and starlets… you name it and it’s there. Some of this stuff is smuggled and is original while most of it is spurious. You need a practised eye to detect the difference.
Across these stalls on the other side of the road is the prominent American Express building, providing a sharp contrast of the credit card culture emerging from within the walls of ancient Portland stone. Outside this building squat self-styled herbal practitioners, with ash smeared on their foreheads, who proffer their panaceas for any kind of medical ailment ranging from ear infection to constipation to sexual impotence. They attract a lot of curious passers-by.
There, in the midst of this demographic mosaic, stands the enthralling Roman Goddess of Flowers, gazing serenely at a pair of torch-bearing stone patriots of the Martyr’s Memorial nearby. The square around Flora Fountain is now called Hutatma Chowk or Martyr’s Place to honour those who died during the tumultuous birth of the state of Maharashtra.
The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and dargah (tomb) located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the Southern part of Mumbai. Near the heart of the city proper, the dargah is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Mumbai.
An exquisite example of Indo-Islamic architecture, associated with legends about doomed lovers, the dargah contains the tomb of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari and was constructed in 1431.
The Dargah is built on a tiny islet located 500 meters from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay.
Kamala Nehru Park is a park in India covering an area of 4,000 square feet (370 m2). Located at the top of Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, it is named after Kamala Nehru, the wife of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
A place frequently visited by schoolchildren, it has little to offer by way of entertainment apart from a structure shaped like a shoe. The shoe structure is inspired by the nursery rhyme There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
From the garden, one can see the spectacular view of the city, Chowpatty Beach, and Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive).
Image courtesy: wikimedia
The Rajabai Clock Tower was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect. He modeled it on Big Ben, the clock tower of the UK houses of Parliament in London.
The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1869 and construction was completed in November 1878. The total cost of construction came to INR2 lakhs, a princely sum in those days. This entire cost was defrayed by Premchand Roychand, a prosperous broker who founded the Bombay Stock Exchange on the condition that the tower be named after his mother Rajabai.
Premchand Roychand’s mother was blind and as a staunch follower of Jain religion she was supposed to consume her dinner before evening. The evening bell of the tower helped her to know the time without anyone’s help.
Image courtesy: wikimedia
Founded in 1857, the University of Bombay is one of the first three oldest public state universities in India, located in the city of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra.
It was known as the “University of Bombay” until 1996, when the city of Bombay was renamed Mumbai. The university was renamed as per a gazette of the Government of Maharashtra dated September 4, 1996.
The University of Bombay was established in 1857 at the Fort campus, which is located near the southern end of Mumbai. It houses the administrative division of the university. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture. The Rajabai clock tower stands in the lawns of the campus. Also located in this campus is the convocation hall of the university, which has been accorded the status of a heritage structure by UNESCO.
The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on 14 August 1862. Although the name of the city was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, the Court as an institution did not follow suit and remained as the Bombay High Court.
The work on the present building of the High Court was commenced in April 1871 and completed in November 1878. It was designed by British engineer Col. J.A. Fuller.
Architecture: Gothic revival in the Early English style. It is 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide. To the west of the central tower are two octagonal towers. The statues of Justice and Mercy are atop this building.
Dadar West, Mumbai
Shivaji Park is the largest park in Mumbai. It is situated in the Dadar area of Mumbai. Like the Azad Maidan and August Kranti Maidan (formerly Gowalia Tank Grounds).
Of historical and cultural value because of the political and social gatherings it has witnessed, both in pre- and post-independence Mumbai.
The park is named after the legendary 17th century warrior king of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji. The park was created in 1925 by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, in the days of the British Raj. Through the name, the British authorities acknowledged Shivaji and the reverence his name commanded amongst the local Marathi population.
Opp. Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the main museum in Mumbai, formerly Bombay.
The Prince of Wales himself laid the foundation stone of the Museum in 1905, during his visit to Bombay. Completed in 1914, the Museum was converted into a military hospital during the First World War and then formally opened in 1923.
From the Gateway, the Prince of Wales Museum is hardly five minutes away by foot. When you walk along the Chattrapati Shivaji Road past the Bombay Yacht Club, at the end of the road stands the Regal Cinema at the SP Mukherji Chowk. Directly opposite Regal is the domed museum — gothic and moorish in architecture in the remarkable cross of styles which eventually came to be known as Indo-Saracenic.
It is ensconced in the well manicured gardens, sharing the landscape with statues of British Generals and Chinese figurines. This four tiered goliath houses a priceless collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from various stylistic schools in India.
Among other artifacts feature a sizeable number of relics of the Indus Valley Civilisation and instances of Tibetan and Nepalese art. An entire gallery is devoted to the Buddhist tankha scrolls and another to Tibetan bronzes.
The museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses Indus Valley Civilization artefacts, and other relics from ancient India from the time of the Guptas, Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta.
Mt. Mary Road, Bandra, Mumbai
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church, is a Roman Catholic Basilica located in Bandra, Mumbai. The Basilica is one of the most visited ‘religious places of worship’ in the city.
Every September, the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on the first Sunday after 8 September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary. This is a week long celebration known as the Bandra Fair and is visited by thousands of people.
The earliest historical records of Bandra come from Jesuit priests who were given sole ownership, not only of Bandra but also of Parel, Wadala and Sion, by the Portuguese. In 1570 the Jesuits built a college and a church in Bandra. In the mid-18th century, the traveller John Fryer records that the Jesuit church, which stood near the seashore, was still in use.
In 1733 when the Kunbi farmers migrated to this island from Mumbai because the fish manure they used was banned, they found St. Andrews church, St.Stanislaus Orphanage and a monastery of St. Anne. After this was destroyed in a Maratha raid in the year 1737 when the English aided the Portuguese troops, a slaughterhouse was built on the same spot.
There was also a chapel of Mt. Mary, build around 1640. Legend has it that this was destroyed in 1738 during a Maratha raid. The statue of the Virgin was recovered from the sea by fishermen and temporarily installed in St. Andrews, before being shifted to the rebuilt Mt. Mary in 1761.
Bandra remained a village with plantations of rice and vegetables in the low-lying areas of the island until a causeway linked it to Mahim in 1845. Although many bungalows were built here in the boom years of the 1860’s and 70\’s, the posh Pali Hill area, now teeming with film stars, saw the first construction only in the 1880’s. The suburbs of Bandra became one of the most fashionable suburbs by the middle of the century. Further developments are envisaged with the new Bandra-Kurla Commercial Complex.
Malabar Hill, Walkeshwar, Mumbai
The Hanging Gardens, in Bombay, also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, are terraced gardens perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park.
They provide sunset views over the Arabian Sea and feature numerous hedges carved into the shapes of animals.
The park was laid out in 1881 by Ulhas Ghapokar over Bombay’s main reservoir, some say to cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity of the nearby Towers of Silence.
Walkeshwar Temple Compound, Malabar Hill, Mumbai
Banganga is an ancient water tank which is part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex in Malabar Hill area of Mumbai in India.
According to local legend, it sprang forth when the Hindu god Ram, the exiled hero of the epic Ramayana, stopped at the spot five thousand years ago in search of his kidnapped wife Sita.
As the legend goes, overcome with fatigue and thirst, Rama asked his brother Lakshmana to bring him some water. Laxman instantly shot an arrow into the ground, and water gushed forth from the ground, creating a tributary of the Ganges, which flows over a thousand miles away, hence its name, Banganga, the Ganga created on a baan (arrow).
DN Road, Fort, Mumbai
Earlier known as Victoria Terminus (VT Station), this is located a few yards from the General Post Office down Walchand Hirachand Road. Modelled along the lines of St. Pancras station in London, it boasts of carved stone friezes, stained glass windows, flying buttresses and gargoyles.
The station was christened to mark Victoria Jubilee Day in 1887 but is today, more known for the sea of frenzied commuters moving in and out through its massive arches. It was opened to the public on New Year’s Day, 1882 and is now the starting point of the Central Railways. The Italian Gothic style, full of marvellous filigrees and carvings, merits detailed examination.
Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the upper deck of a passing double-decker bus. Located in Bori Bunder, VT has been declared a Heritage Site.
A throbbing landmark of Mumbai city, VT Station was designed by FW Stevens for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Stevens had a penchant for experimenting with various styles of architecture, as is evident in a host on public buildings in Bombay. Atop the central dome stands the Roman goddess of prosperity, Progress. During her installation, she was struck down thrice by lightning and was reinstated thrice.
In the adjacent modern annexe reserved for long distance trains, there is a huge hall thronging with passengers and porters (commonly called coolies, and dressed in the traditional dhoti kurta, an attire typical of rural Maharashtra).
The entire complex throbs with commuters, pedestrians, cabs, buses, pan beedi shops and clothes stalls. Beware of pickpockets.
WEH, Borivali East, Mumbai
The rich flora and fauna of Sanjay Gandhi National Park attracts more than 2 million visitors every year.