Mumbai is speckled with an eclectic mix of architectural gems, ranging from traditional Islamic to Indo-Gothic styles. This leisurely walk starts at one of the nation’s most well-known landmarks, the historic Gateway of India. It also allows time to explore Mumbai’s most impressive museum as well as an interesting art gallery—both housed in architecturally noteworthy buildings.
Begin your heritage ramble at Mumbai’s famous (1) Gateway of India (Apollo Bunder, Colaba) designed by Scotland-born architect, George Wittet. Sporting exquisite Mughal-style design elements, this imposing basalt arch overlooks the Mumbai Harbor. The arch was completed in 1924, during the British Raj, to commemorate England’s King George V and Queen Mary’s 1911 visit to India.
Diagonally opposite the Gateway of India is the grand (2) Taj Mahal Palace & Tower (Apollo Bunder, Colaba, www.tajhotels.com), now a deluxe hotel. A blend of Islamic and colonial-influenced architectural styles, this magnificent building was constructed in 1903 by the wealthy Indian industrialist, J.N. Tata.
From the Taj, head north along Chhatrapati Shivaji Road where you’ll soon stumble upon the (3) Regal Cinema (SP Mukherji Chowk [Regal Circle roundabout], Colaba). Admire the cinema’s handsome art deco design, and, if you have time, pop in to enjoy the latest Bollywood blockbuster.
From SP Mukherji Chowk, beyond Madame Cama Road (to your left), is the (4) National Gallery of Modern Art (Mahatma Gandhi [MG] Road, www.ngmaindia.gov.in). This elegant three-tier circular stone building houses paintings by Indian and foreign artists.
Diagonally opposite the art gallery is the (5) Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (159-161 Mahatma Gandhi [MG] Road, www.bombaymuseum.org). Designed by George Wittet, it sports Indo-Saracenic (also known as Indo-Gothic) architecture, a Mughal-Gothic style adopted by the British in the late 1800s. Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, the gracefully domed building opened its doors in 1922 in honor of Britain’s King George V (who first visited India in 1905 as then Prince of Wales). Mumbai’s largest museum, it has a superb collection of Indian artifacts and warrants an unhurried browse.
A little further north of the museum, on the opposite side of Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road, is the majestic facade of the late 19th-century (6) Elphinstone College, a Gothic-Victorian-style university campus (closed to the general public), replete with stone balconies, balustrades, turrets, and gargoyles.
Also on Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road, slightly further north of the college, you’ll pass another historic building, the 19th-century (7) David Sassoon Library, significantly funded by the affluent Jewish businessman, David Sassoon.
Adjacent to the library, on Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road, is the (8) Army and Navy Building, last stop on your heritage walk. Worth a look for its fine mid-19th-century neo-classical facade, this building was originally used as a British army navy store.
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