Mumbai has had the privilege of being artistically and affectionately moulded in the hands of the various empires it has been under. One of the prime elements of Mumbai’s exceptional diversity is the various historical architectural styles on display at different locations of the city. Magnificent structures stand rock-steady centuries after they had been constructed and represent a multitude of architectural designs. Several historical domains from Magadha and Mauryan Empires of third century BC to Portuguese and British colonial periods have recognized Mumbai’s outstanding potential and groomed and fostered it with a certain fondness.
Today, people from all over the globe visit Mumbai to catch a glimpse of its historical monuments that proudly display a range of admirable ancient architectures. You’ll find all types of architectural grandeur in Mumbai - from pure Indian architectural styles with finely intricate carvings to Indo-European architecture with strong Islamic influences, Indo-Sarcenic style with Gujarati influences, early English Gothic style and a combination of Venetian and English gothic styles. Mumbai is indeed a paradise for architectural lovers.
Click on the links below to read more about historical spots in Mumbai:
Flora Fountain at the Hutatma chowk the
square, which today is popularly known as Martyr's Square, is an
exquisitely sculpted architectural monument. Located near Churchgate
station in Mumbai fort district of South Mumbai, the monument was built
in 1864. It is an amazing fusion of water, architecture & depicts
the Roman goddess Flora, which makes for an amazing sight for tourists
and Mumbaikars alike.
Flora fountain is surrounded by many
British Victorian era heritage buildings like Mumbai high court Rajabhai
Tower and hence is hotspot for national and international tourists.
Another unique feature of Flora fountain is that you’ll find many book
stalls and vendors near its vicinity, where you can buy international
bestselling books at great discounted price. Flora fountain is easily
accessible from all parts of Mumbai. The nearest railway stations are
CST and Churchgate stations.
At the site of the Koli's original temple to Mumba Devi now stands Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – formally known as Victoria terminals. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of Mumbai's most prominent architectural buildings and also a major tourist attraction. It is one of the finest and busiest railway stations in the world. It is headquarter of Central Railways and also the main terminal for long distance & local trains.
Designed by famous architect F.W. Stevens, the architecture of monument is inspired by Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture with a touch of Indian tradition. The construction of historical monument had commenced in 1878 and completed in the year 1885.
One of the prominent features of this monument is the high 160 feet dome crowning the centre. On top of the giant dome is the figure of a woman with a torch held aloft to symbolize progress and enlightenment. The administrative offices form three sides of a rectangle enclosing an ornamental garden. The entrance gate of station is guarded by a massive stone Lion and Tiger. In 1996 the name of the station was formally changed from Victoria to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Sion Hillock Fort was built by British Governor of Bombay Gerard Aungier between 1669 and 1677. The fort was built especially to consolidate British’s hold over Sion area. The Sion fort is situated just few meters from Sion railway station. The fort overlooks the salt pans in the Thane creeks that create a magnificent view of the surroundings. At the base of the fort The Archeological Survey of India has its branch office. Today Sion fort stands in a very dilapidated condition, but it is still worth a visit.
The 6th century old Elephanta Cave temples are located on an island along Mumbai’s eastern shore of Arabian Sea. The caves contain some great masterpieces of Indian sculptures which have broadly been divided into two groups - the large Hindu caves group and the smaller Buddhist caves group. The Hindu caves temples are dedicated to Hindu god ‘Lord Shiva’. Originally the place was called Gharapuri (which literally means “the city of caves”) but was later renamed as Elephanta by the Portuguese. The Elephanta Caves have been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and can be reached via boats & ferry services available from Gateway of India. There is also Chalukya Restaurant run by MTDC where you can have refreshments and snacks. It must be noted that there are no night halt facilities at Elephanta caves. The last check out time for tourists is 5 PM.
The word Kanheri has been derived from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri. These caves date back to the period between the 1st century BC and 9th century AD. Located at a distance of 45 kms from central Mumbai and 10 kms from the Borivali railway station, the Kanheri Caves were basically meant for the Buddhist conglomeration worship. The highest cave is situated at a height of 1500 feet above the sea level. All the way through the journey through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a natural serenity of emerald green escorts the visitors.
Mumbai fort is actually name of a bustling commercial area in the Colaba area and is just few minutes walking distance from CST station. The area actually gets its name from famous St. George fort located in north colaba, which was built by British East India Company. Mumbai fort is historically important even today as it is surrounded by imposing historical monuments built during British colonial era. The most prominent historical building is St. John's church, which is dedicated to soldiers, who laid down their lives in the first Afghan war of 1843. This landmark church is visited especially by history enthusiasts and foreign visitors. Other prominent buildings falling in the Mumbai fort are Bombay stock exchange and head quarter of Reserve Bank of India.
Vasai or Bassein Fort is a large and imposing fort located in Vasia taluka of Thane district. Vasia taluka actually lies in the very outskirt of Mumbai and so is very far away from the main city. Historically, Vasia fort was once the headquarter of Portuguese from 1534 AD to 1739 AD. Today most part of the fort stands in dilapidated condition, however some parts of the fort have been well preserved including three chapels inside the fort. Another interesting feature of Vasai fort is that it overlooks Vasai creek, which makes for an interesting sight. The easiest way to reach to Vasai fort is to take a local train to vasai road station.
The Bombay or Mumbai High Court is one of the oldest High Courts in the country. Its attractive construction in early English Gothic architecture style makes it a must watch tourist attraction. It was designed by Colonel J.A.Fuller R.E. Today Mumbai High court area is always bustling with crowd as it is one of the prominent courts of city as well as India. Mumbai High court is located next to the oval ground and is easily accessible via cabs & local BEST buses.
The imposing General Post Office building is a fine example of Indo-European architecture which was designed by John Begg and supervised by George Wittet. Its superb architecture is inspired by the Islamic domes of the famous Gol Gumbaj building. The GPO building is situated in the vicinity of Victoria Terminus. It has several arches, domes and minarets that give a fantastic look to the GPO. The post office also has a lofty three storied rotunda inside, which leads to its various departments.
Rajabai Clock Tower is a famous clock tower in South Mumbai, located in the garden campus of Bombay University. The architectural design of the clock tower was modeled on famous Big Ben in London. It was designed by English architecture Sir George Gilbert Scott and was initially named after a mother of a wealthy 19th century stockbroker who funded its construction.
The clock tower is an amazing combination of Venetian and English gothic styles that offers a magnificent look to the structure. The cupola (top most structure) part of the structure is ornamented with sixteen statues depicting various Indian castes. The best spot to view Rajabai Clock Tower is from Oval ground, from where it looks really mesmerizing and stunning.
Asiatic library or town hall is unarguably the most elegant of Mumbai’s heritage building. Its parquet floors, wrought iron loggias and exquisite marble statues make it a stunning sight. Constructed in the mid 1830’s, the entire architectural design is profoundly influenced by Greek and Roman styles of architecture. Its grander size coupled with majestic design attracts thousands of tourists’ every day. In fact many Bollywood filmmakers are attracted by the sheer beauty of Town hall building and so many Bollywood songs and sequences are filmed in its vicinity.
Town hall also houses one of the biggest libraries in the city. The library is controlled by the government of India and charges nominal fees for membership. Located in the Mumbai fort area, Town hall is easily accessible from all parts of the Mumbai city.