Culture & Heritage
Gateway Of India
Initially used as a jetty for the fisher folk of the area, Gateway of India at Apollo Bunder was later turned into a landing place for British governors and other officials. Today, it is a favourite among locals and tourists for its proximity to Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the beautiful view of the Arabian Sea. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the arches and dome of the Gateway are a remarkable sight. A visit here can also be combined with a walk along Colaba Causeway, located right behind the Gateway.
The Asiatic Society of Mumbai at Fort was established in 1804 by Sir James Mackintosh, a Scottish jurist, politician and historian. Many musicians have regaled crowds of adoring listeners on the steps of the library, the most recent being Ayushmann Khurana at the Kala Ghoda Festival 2016. While the building itself is a pleasure to explore, don’t miss the treasures housed within the library. Notable among these is the manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and 15,000 other rare and valuable books. Totally, there are over a hundred thousand books in the library.
Kala Ghoda is the name of an area that’s dotted with historical and cultural landmarks like Jehangir Art Gallery and the Pavement Gallery, Bombay Natural History Society, David Sassoon Library and Lions Gate. But it also refers to the black stone statue of King Edward VII, who was the then Prince of Wales. He is seen astride a horse crafted by Jewish businessman and philanthropist Albert Abdullah David Sassoon. This statue is now present at the Byculla Zoo but Kala Ghoda (literally ‘black horse’) continues to embody its memory. An exploration of Kala Ghoda is incomplete without a visit to the Esplanade Mansion, India’s oldest surviving cast iron building.
Rajabai Clock Tower
The Rajabai Clock Tower at the Fort campus of the University of Mumbai is our very own answer to London’s Big Ben. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect, the Tower took nearly ten years to be built and was finally finished in November 1878. Although a melange of Venetian and Gothic styles, the Tower is very much local, having been fashioned from buff coloured Kurla stone. Don’t miss its beautiful stained glass windows which can rival any other in Mumbai. A visit here can be combined with an exploration of the University’s campus. Once, the Rajabai Clock Tower was the tallest structure in Mumbai but not anymore.
Mount Merry Church
This Roman Catholic Basilica in Bandra is where the entire city converges for midnight mass on the eve of Christmas. The church also comes alive during the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is followed by the week-long Bandra Fair in September. Mount Mary Church sits on a hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea and the present structure is over 100 years old. However, in reality, the church dates back to the 17th century when it was destroyed and had to be rebuilt.
This ancient water tank is located in the Walkeshwar Temple Complex at Malabar Hill. The silent cistern with its surrounding ducks and playing children can have a mesmerising effect on many. Originally built by a minister in the court of Silhara dynasty kings of Thane in the 1127 AD, Banganga Tank was rebuilt in 1715 AD. Over the years, the main temple has been reconstructed several times. The tank owes its name to a legend that says Lakshmana created a tributary of the Ganga to quench his brother Rama’s thirst.
Culture of Mumbai
The culture of Mumbai is a combination of tradition, religions, cuisines, music and fine arts. Termed as ‘The city that never sleeps’, it is one of the busiest cities in India. Fun is equally important to the people of Mumbai. This is evident from the way the festivals are celebrated. Though Diwali, Eid, Holi and Christmas are celebrated enthusiastically, nothing compares to the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Sometime in late August or early September, Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day fest celebrated with grandeur and glory. Mumbai is famous for its handmade fabrics, textiles and jewellery. One can also shop at the markets like Chor Bazaar for knick knacks like antique clocks, wooden furnishings and paintings. A main reason to visit Mumbai is the food. Be it street food or local favourites or the seafood dishes, your taste buds will be thanking you for taking this trip.