In Mumbai, you’ll find some very distinct architectural styles, which show the city’s evolution. One of the earliest is that of the fishing villages, way before the British colonized the city. Originally, the seven islands that made up the city were home to the Koli fishing community. They, in turn, had adopted an architectural style from the Portuguese. |
This gave rise to Indo-Portuguese architecture, but unfortunately some of this legacy remains unrecognizable today. For instance, the St Michael’s Church in Mahim was built by the Portuguese in 1534 but the current style bears little resemblance to the original. Another example is Byculla’s Gloria Church originally built in 1632, but replaced by a Gothic structure in the 20th century. Others include the Church of St John in Andheri and St Andrew’s Church in Bandra.
Later, Mumbai’s architectural landscape was dominated by the neoclassical style, evident in the Town Hall (Asiatic Society Library) in South Mumbai’s Fort area. Then emerged Gothic architecture in the 19th century; characterized by pointed arches, ribbed ceilings, lancet windows, and stained glass. Examples include Crawford Market, Bombay University, Bombay High Court, and Victoria Terminus.
Many creative people have been inspired by these architectural marvels, including artists and furniture designers, who have improvised these elements in their work and collections. The leather furniture studio, PortsideCafé, is one such exemplar. From classic roads in Mumbai like the ‘Hughes’ to the art-deco stylized buildings on marine drive, the furniture studio’s collections reflect the city’s legacy. Art Deco is an eclectic style in which designers drew their inspirations from many sources – artifacts from Egypt and Greece, Africa, Japan, Latin America and China. Art Deco always had a special impact on big cosmopolitan cities. For instance, the Chrysler Building in New York became iconic of this style, among others.
The Town Hall is one of the most regal structures among all other such heritage buildings in the city. It houses the 'Asiatic society of Bombay'; a public state library in the city, inspiring research, literature, sciences, and oriental arts. Nearby is the Churchgate Station. An architectural marvel, today the Town Hall is a popular tourist attraction. It houses a library and museum with historic manuscripts in Persian, Prakrit, Urdu and Sanskrit, several other treasures, including a collection of 1,000 antique coins. Dante's first issue of the 'Inferno' is also stored here.
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