Weekend Walk Around Mumbai For The History Lover And Architecture Buff

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Evening at Gateway of India
Gateway of India, Bombay to Mumbai
Gateway of India, Bombay to Mumbai

I have always felt that History and Architecture share a symbiotic relationship in any city. And more so in Mumbai.  Her history is reflected in her architecture. And her architecture is inclusive of her history. The Mumbai of today is a heady cocktail of Maratha, Mughal, British and Post- independence modern India.  If you are new to Mumbai and like the historic tales that buildings tell, it may be worthwhile to head to these places!

Gateway of India
Gateway of India has always been special to Mumbaikars. I don’t know a more apt postcard picture for Mumbai. Built to commemorate the visit of King George V, it ironically also witnessed the last batch of soldiers who left India post Independence! It is not just about the building façade, but the atmosphere around it. The Taj Mahal hotel, India’s first five start hotel, built as a symbol to demonstrate the growing Indian prowess in British India, stands bang opposite the Gateway of India, amidst the clutter of other older buildings.

Just sitting for a few minutes by the Gateway, makes one imagine the Mumbai of yesteryears. The building has seen the changing face of Mumbai. And a look around the place will tell you that. There are many quaint old hotels and buildings around that struggle to keep their identity intact with the buildings that signify a modernising India. The majestic Boat Yacht club stands across from the Gateway, inviting you to rent one of those quaint sail boats or if you will, the yachts.

KalaGhoda to CST Walking Trail

King Edward Statue-Kala Ghoda
King Edward Statue-Kala Ghoda

I have always wondered where is the ‘Kala Ghoda’ at Kala Ghoda? Your hunt for it will be useless as the actual Kala Ghoda is at Rani Baug at Byculla currently! Within a stone’s throw distance from the Jehangir Art gallery is the popular library David Sassoon library, which is nestled in a beautiful stone building. Not many would be aware, but Mumbai owes a lot of its architectural beauty to the generosity, vision and artistic love of David Sassoon!

Head towards CST via Ballard estate because en route lies the Greco-Roman styled Asiatic library. It doesn’t take a history or architecture lover to recognize this building; a movie buff will be able to spot it as well! It is worth taking a break from your walk and finding a spot for yourself among the many students and weary office goers, who make optimum utilization of the space available there.

Ballard estate was once ‘the’ office space in Mumbai. It still is, in many ways today as well. I love the massive pillars that adorn the buildings around. This place really makes me wish I could witness this road in its full glory in the years gone by.  And the perfect place to brood and sigh about this is at Café Britannia. We are not discussing eating options in this post, but this one fits in the theme aptly. It is still one of the few Parsi eateries In Mumbai that has maintained its old world charm – almost stubbornly. It reeks of nostalgia. I am sure the bun-maska-chai here is something which has not changed the years!

This short walking trail ends at a place which is used by most people for sprint sessions from the office and back.  A place which is cribbed about often for its stinky loos (or the lack of it!), long queues, delays etc. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus building serves as a giant reminder of the British Raj in India with its blend of European and Indian architecture . It was the place which hosted the first local train to Thane a whopping 160 years ago. Today, after 125 years since it was established, it serves a reminder of the grit of Mumbaikars, whether it is the harsh commute to long distances or the stoic strength during the 26/11 attacks. Historic- it is. Majestic- it is!

So put on some sunscreen lotion and head to these places to hear the tales they tell!

Images by Kartik Chandramouli

Post By Guest Blogger, Aparna Amte (6 Posts)

Pursuing multiple careers, that of a freelance HR consultant, writer, photographer and food critic. An obsessive compulsive day dreamer. Wants to have the cake and eat it too (a dark chocolate one, please).

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Guest Blogger, Aparna Amte

Guest Blogger, Aparna Amte
Pursuing multiple careers, that of a freelance HR consultant, writer, photographer and food critic. An obsessive compulsive day dreamer. Wants to have the cake and eat it too (a dark chocolate one, please).
  • Nishant

    Aparna, Parsis and Iranis are different. Britannia Cafe is an Irani Cafe. That is not Parsi food – it is different. For Parsi food, go to Paradise in Colaba.