You are on page 1of 3

Architecture of Mumbai

Clockwise from top: Skyline at Cuffe Parade, the Rajabai Clock Tower, the Taj Mahal Hotel,
Nariman Point & Gateway of India. The architecture of Mumbai blends Gothic, Victorian,
Art Deco, Indo-Saracenic and contemporary architectural styles. Many buildings, structures
and historical monuments remain from the colonial era. Mumbai, after Miami, has the second
largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world.[1][2]

Gothic and Victorian architecture

According to writer Jan Morris, "Bombay is one of the most characteristically Victorian cities
in the world, displaying all the grand effrontery of Victorian eclectism".[3] The British
influence on buildings in the city is evident from the colonial era. However, the architectural
features include a range of European influences such as German gables, Dutch roofs, Swiss
timbering, Romance arches and Tudor casements often interfused with traditional Indian
features.[3] Bombay City Hall was built during the period 1820 and 1835, by Colonel Thomas
Cowper. The University of Mumbai Library and Rajabai Tower, Xavier's College, The
Secretariat, Telegraph Office, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus are also fine examples of
gothic architecture in the city.

[edit] Rajabai Tower

The Rajabai Tower in South Mumbai is located in the confines of the Fort campus of the
University of Mumbai. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect, and
was modelled on Big Ben, the clock tower of the United Kingdom's houses of Parliament in
London.[4] The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1869 and construction was completed
in November 1878. The tower stands at a height of 85 m (280 ft) and at the time it was the
tallest building in India. The tower fuses Venetian and Gothic styles.[4] It is built out of the
locally available buff coloured Kurla stone and stained glass.[4] A file photo of University of
Mumbai taken in 1870s. Rajabai Clock Tower here seen shrouded in scaffolding was
completed in 1878. The ground floor has two side rooms, each measuring 56 × 27.5 ft
(17 × 8.5 m). The tower forms a carriage porch 2.4 m² (26 ft²), and a spiral staircase vestibule
of 2.6 m² (28 ft²). The Tower, over the carriage porch, has a square form up to the gallery at
the top of the first level which is at a height of 68 feet (20.7 m) from the ground.[5] The form
changes from a square to an octagon and the height from this gallery to the top of the tower is
118 feet (36 m) and the third stage to the top of the finial is 94 feet (28.7 m), thus making a
total height of 280 feet (85 m).

[edit] Indo-Saracenic

The Indo-Saracenic style developed in the second half of the 19th century, combining Islamic
and Hindu architectural styles with its characteristic domes, arches, stained glasses, spires,
and minarets. The Gateway of India and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya are
good examples of this architectural type in the city.
[edit] Gateway of India

The Gateway of India is one of the major monuments in the city, located in the Apollo
Bunder area in South Mumbai. It is a distinct 26 metres (85 ft) high arch built from yellow
basalt and reinforced concrete.[6] Many elements of the arch are derived from the Muslim
architectural styles of 16th century Gujarat, the pillars are derived from the design of Hindu
temples and the design of the Gateway's windows derive from Islamic architecture.

The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary
to Bombay, prior to the Delhi Durbar, in December 1911.[6] The foundation stone was laid on
31 March 1911, by Governor of Bombay Sir George Sydenham Clarke, and the final design
of George Wittet was sanctioned in August 1914. The foundations were completed in 1920,
and construction was finished in 1924.[6]

[edit] Art Deco

Art Deco architecture in Mumbai developed during the 1930s and produced distinctly angular
shaped buildings with facades. Mumbai has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings
in the world. Eros Cinema is a typical art deco building, designed by architect Sohrabji
Bhedwar. The foundation of Eros Cinema was laid in 1935.[7] The cinema opened in 1938
and construction of this building on the then newly reclaimed Backbay plot housing shops
and other businesses, apart from the cinema, took about two and a half years to complete.
Partially faced with red Agra sandstone, this building is painted cream. The two wings of this
Art Deco building meet up in a central block. The foyer is in white and black marble with
touches of gold. Marble staircases with chromium handrails lead up to the upper floor.[7] The
murals are in muted colours depicting Indian architectures. The Metro Adlabs Cinema,
located on Mahatma Gandhi Road, at Dhobitalao Junction is also a good example of the Art
Deco style of architecture that appeared in the 1930s in the city. The Metro Cinema opened
on 8 June 1938 and was designed by noted American theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb.[8] It
was built for Metro Goldwyn Mayer and seating was provided for 1,491 people in orchestra
and balcony levels. The auditorium reopened in 2006 and was sub-divided into six large
luxury screens. The cinema features mainly Bollywood and Hollywood films.

[edit] Contemporary architecture and development

As the wealthiest city in India,[9] Mumbai attracts an enormous amount of international
investment and has seen a large number of modern high-rise office buildings and flats spring
up in recent decades. In many parts of the city, particularly the newer suburbs, modern
buildings dominate the landscape away from the old part of the city. Mumbai has by far the
largest number of skyscrapers in India, with 956 existing buildings and 272 under
construction and many more planned as of August 2009.[10] The Mumbai Metropolitan
Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was established in 1974 by the Government of
Maharashtra to manage the planning and co-ordination of development activities in the city
and to overlook the architectural development of the city.[11]

In 1995 the Heritage Committee in Mumbai was established, unifying architects, historians
and citizens to preserve the city's tradition architectural heritage. A grading system has since
been used under the heritage regulations to categorize buildings according to importance: the
most important landmarks of national significance are categorized as Heritage Grade I,
buildings of regional importance as Heritage Grade II and buildings of urban importance as
Heritage Grade III.[1]

[edit] Notable buildings

Many notable buildings exist in Mumbai, some of which attract tourists. These include the
Gateway of India, Mahalakshmi Temple, Jahangir Art Gallery, Bombay High Court,
Crawford Market, Taj Mahal Hotel, Flora Fountain, Afghan Church, Xavier's College, the
Bombay Stock Exchange and Mumbai General Post Office.

[edit] Taj Mahal Hotel

The Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to
guests on 16 December 1903. The original Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya
and D. N. Mirza, and the project was completed by an English engineer W. A. Chambers.
The cost of construction was £250,000 (£127 million today).[12] During World War I, the
hotel was converted into a 600-bed hospital. The dome of the hotel is made from the same
steel as used in the Eiffel Tower. Jamsedji Tata imported the same steel during that time. The
hotel was the first in India to install and operate a steam elevator.

[edit] Crawford Market

Crawford Market, in south Mumbhai is named after Arthur Crawford, the first Municipal
Commissioner of the city. The building, completed in 1869, was donated to the city by
Cowasji Jehangir. In 1882, the building was the first market in India to be lit up by
electricity.[13] The edifice is a blend of Norman, Flemish and Gothic architectural styles.[14]
The friezes on the outside entrance depicting Indian farmers, and the stone fountains inside,
were designed by Lockwood Kipling, father of novelist Rudyard Kipling.[14] The market
covers an area of 22,471 sq m (24,000 sq ft) which 5,515 sq m (6,000 sq ft) is occupied by
the building itself. The structure was built using coarse buff coloured Kurla stone, with
redstone from Bassein.

[edit] Watson's Hotel

Watson's Hotel, currently known as the Esplanade Mansion, is located in the Kala Ghoda
area of Mumbai and is India's oldest surviving cast iron building.[15] It was named after its
original owner John Watson and designed by civil engineer Rowland Mason Ordish, who was
also associated with the St Pancras Station in London. The building was fabricated in
England between 1867 and 1869 from cast iron components and was assembled and
constructed on site. The external cast-iron frame closely resembles other high-profile 19th
century buildings such as London's Crystal Palace. The main façade of the hotel is
distinguished by wide, open balconies on each floor that connected the guest rooms, which
were built around the atrium in a courtyard arrangement.[16]

Neglect of the building has resulted in decay and, despite its listing as a Grade II–A heritage
structure, the building is now in a dilapidated state. The condition of the building was
publicized by Italian architect Renzo Piano and heritage activists, and as a result of their
efforts, the building was listed in June 2005 on the list of "100 World Endangered
Monuments" by the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based NGO.[17]