Mumbai’s architecture rose to prominence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At first, neoclassical architecture was the most common, but later, the city became known for its Victorian Gothic style, which was mostly brought there by the British.
Mumbai is one of the oldest and wealthiest cities in India, both when it was a British colony and when it was a free country. The city is a center for finance and business, and it also has a unique mix of different architectural styles from the past few hundred years. In contrast to the neoclassical style, the Gothic style is expressive, disjointed, and filled with brightly colored surfaces and carved and story-telling elements like flying buttresses, lancet windows, and stained glass.
The buildings combine Indian and Islamic architecture with Victorian and Venetian neo-Gothic styles. The city offers it all, from the historic elephantine caverns with their intricate carvings to the contemporary skyscrapers. The Municipal Corporation rated the buildings as Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III historic structures. Also designated as UNESCO world heritage sites are a few of these buildings.
Here are some of Mumbai’s oldest structures, which have not only stood the test of time but also serve as a key draw for both tourists and architecture enthusiasts.
South Asian Design
Early in the 20th century, when the art nouveau style was starting to lose popularity, the art deco architectural movement became popular. Ancient Egyptian monuments, Greek culture, and other civilizations all had a global impact on this architectural style.
This type of architecture is unique because it lets an architect show off his or her creative design skills by using odd building materials and parts in odd ways.
It is one of the less well-known building styles in the modern city of Mumbai.
Additionally, it was around this period that abstract geometrical shapes first entered the fashion world. With a few standout qualities, it is thus an eclectic fusion of the old and new;
- Mesoamerican, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, and African influences can all be seen in modern art.
- Orphism, Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism were prominent influences on abstract geometric design.
- Minarets and domes from the Saracenic style, with outside Indian design,
- The design of a building affects many things, such as the floors, lights, intricately carved inscriptions, wood paneling, verandahs, plinths, weather shades, and balconies.
- Styles from different eras and cultures mixing were more pronounced and elegant
You will only find this particular architectural style in a very small number of locations, including;
The Mahalaxmi Temple
Art deco and Indo-Saracenic designs are uniquely combined in the Mahalakshmi temple. The beautiful building’s enormous archway and pillars, as well as its elaborate carvings and detailed design, are just stunning. It is devoted to Devi Mahatmyam’s main deity, Mahalakshmi. Dhakji Dadaji (1760–1846), a Hindu businessman who adhered to Hindu vedic customs and culture, constructed the temple in 1831.
The Tridevi goddesses Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati are depicted at the temple. Pearl necklaces, gold bangles, and nose rings may be seen on all three pictures. Mahalakshmi is seen in the center holding two lotus blossoms.
A famous gallery called The Jehangir
Both an art gallery and a theater are housed in the Jehangir Art Gallery. Even though it’s not used much in modern architecture, an introverted gallery design was one of the most futuristic at the time it was made. Here is where the modernist idea of a street-free gallery with an inward face was first portrayed. Relief stonework adorns the uninteresting exterior design. It is also important to highlight the cantilevered entrance.
The General Post Office
A great example of an Indo-Saracenic and Art Deco fusion, the general post office in Mumbai is known for its Deco-Saracenic architecture. The Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka, is the inspiration for the edifice. Black basalt and buff and yellow Kurla stone dressing make up the structure’s construction.
The Indo-Saracenic and Roman designs that were combined to create the Flora Fountain are very similar. Roman goddess statuettes can be seen adorning the enormous fountain. This building is unique because it uses imported Portland stone instead of the more common basalt, which happens to be the local Kurla, and Malad stones that can be found in the area.
The Regal Cinema in Mumbai is known for its unique architecture, which combines different styles in a classic way. It differs from the majority of the city’s other historic structures since it incorporates elements of the Victoria Terminus and other gothic-style structures into its modernist design. This building’s front stands out even more because of the muted contrast between jade green and pastel orange.
Art deco styles, which first appeared in fashion in Mumbai, have had a big impact in the United States, especially in the towers of Manhattan.
The architecture of the Victorian era
During the 18th and 19th centuries, when Europeans were in charge of Mumbai (then called Bombay), architectural styles changed a lot because of their tastes. Neoclassical architecture, which was very popular in the second half of the 18th century, was symmetrical and used only one color. As time went on, this was eventually replaced by the evolving trends in architectural design.
The Gothic style of architecture was built in response to the introduction of more modern forms in England. In churches, public spaces, and governmental structures even today, this is obvious.
But what fascinates the keen eye and the devotee is not a duplicate of Gothic architecture. A complex style of architecture known as the “Bombay Gothic Design” was created by the architects of the time by fusing their concepts of modern British Indian culture and architecture.
You’ll observe these trends in these places listed here:
Bombay City Hall
One of the few examples of Victorian architecture that exists today Col. Thomas Cowper created the design. As one of the nation’s oldest repositories of knowledge, it is home to the Asiatic Society. The most interesting things about the city hall are its Victorian terraces, high ceilings with cross beams, strong columns, and stained glass windows. The Gothic architectural style is characterized by these traditional elements.
The Telegraph Office
The most striking thing about this huge medieval building is how the steep sides of the towers come together to form a huge portico at the base. The unmistakable features are the broad bracketed eaves.
Another colonial-era piece of architecture that is still in use today is this one. Cabinet ministers’ state offices are located there. The architecture in this area is famous for its use of buff-colored stones, which are encircled by a lush canopy of trees and blooming flowers. The towers, stairs, and other interior features are made of basalt rocks that are red and blue in color. Venetian Gothic-style architecture is also present in this edifice.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (previously Victoria Terminus)
One of the few examples of high Gothic-style architecture still standing, based on late medieval Italian influences, is this structure, which houses the city’s main train station. The stone dome, turrets, and unusual floor plan of this beautiful building are some of the things that make it stand out.
The style of the building is also very similar to that of Indian palaces, which were made by combining the creativity of the Indian people with British architecture.
The Gothic Buildings Complex
The Gothic Buildings complex is located overlooking the round maidan. With a few Indo-Saracenic influences, it exhibits a neo-Gothic architectural style. The early 19th century gave rise to a number of renowned structures that are still in use today.
St. Xavier’s College
The Bombay Gothic style of architecture, often known as the Indo-Gothic style, is displayed in St. Xavier’s College. Even though it has elements of German and Gothic architecture, the building has a clear Indian style. The herbarium, auditorium, and massive clock tower are the building’s most significant characteristics.
In the early days of the building, there were a number of secret underground passages that were used to store things. The enormous hall, which doubles as the structure’s auditorium,
Mumbai University Library
Premchand Roychand, a trader prince of Bombay, built this library to honor his mother, Mrs. Rajabai. On March 1, 1869, the foundation stone for the library and the Rajabai Clock tower was laid, and the work was completed in November 1878. On February 27, 1880, it was formally opened to readers.This location’s architecture is neo-Gothic in style and is reminiscent of Venice. This building’s Gothic-style arches, in addition to its stained glass windows and high ceilings, are a notable aspect. It’s a piece of the Victorian building complex that looks out over the Oval Maidan.
The Rajabai Towers, which was British India’s tallest skyscraper when it was built, are located right next to it in the same complex. There are other similar Bombay Gothic design examples throughout the complex of Victorian structures.
The Rajabai Towers are also part of the Gothic building complex that has a view of the Oval Maidan. in the University of Mumbai’s Fort Campus, to be precise. The most noticeable thing is the clock tower, which looks a lot like London’s Big Ben. Kurla stone in a buff tint that is locally accessible is used to construct the building.
The architecture’s lofty arches and stained-glass windows, which also have a touch of Indian design and are reminiscent of the Venetian Gothic style, create a singular fusion of stunning beauty and majesty.
The High Court
A Victorian building complex facing the Oval Maidan houses the Bombay High Court as well. People say that the four-story building looks like a Gothic castle because it has many large arches, stained windows, a high ceiling, and detailed architecture.
It would be unfair to the creativity of the architects of the time to call them basic examples of Gothic or Victorian architecture. Several European cultures, like the Dutch, Germans, Swiss, Romans, and some Tudor-era styles, have also had a big impact on these architectural styles.
This architectural design’s salient characteristics included;
- Expressive and expansive designs
- Flying buttresses
- More vibrant colors
- Stained-glass windows
- Intricate carvings and narrative elements
Indian Saracenic Design
The late 19th century saw the development of this distinctive fusion of Islamic and Indian design in architecture. The following characteristics of this design are present:
- Stained glass designs
In some structures and monuments constructed during this time period, you may see various characteristics of Indo Saracenic design, such as;
Vastu Sangrahalaya of Chhatrapati Shivaji
The building is one of the best examples of how Hindu and Muslim architecture can work together. It was made from gray Kurla stone and buff Malad stone, which were easy to find in the area. The large dome, which is the most noticeable part of the three-story building, sits on a porch. A number of smaller domes form a lotus-like pattern around the primary dome, which is made up of them.
In addition to Indo-Saracenic features, the interior has overhanging balconies and inlaid floors that are reminiscent of Mughal architecture. The Golconda fort and the Gol Gumbaz share similarities with the dome’s architectural style. On the inside, the pillars, railings, and columns have Maratha architectural influences. Overall, it is a beautiful building that is a perfect mix of different types of architecture.
The Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is at Apollo Bandar and looks out over the sea. It got its name because it was the first building ships could see as they got closer to Indian territory. Yellow basalt and reinforced concrete were used to construct the massive structure.
The building has pillars that look like those in Hindu temples and arches that are typical of the Muslim style. Also resembling Muslim architecture are the windows. In the city today, this is one of the few remaining Indo-Saracenic patterns that draw both tourists and enthusiasts.
India’s most densely populated city is Mumbai. As one of the richest cities in India and the financial center draws a lot of foreign investment. For their staff, these investors needed contemporary living and working spaces. So the modern, high-rise office and apartment buildings of today were born.
Buildings with these modern aesthetics are gradually taking over the developing suburbs, where they are both the most prevalent and prominent.
This architectural design’s salient characteristics include;
- High-rise buildings with at least 20 floors or higher
- Centralized air conditioning
- Amenities such as an in-built gymnasium and swimming pool
- Open floor plans
- Curved lines
- Large abundant windows
- Asymmetric design
At present, Mumbai’s most popular design trend is contemporary. In the enormous office and apartment complexes spread out throughout the city, it is probably the first thing you will notice. The future growth of these is anticipated to be exponential.
The appearance of Mumbai is one of time travel. The city’s older neighborhoods have an architecture that is in keeping with the period in which it was constructed. The architectural style gradually changes as you make your way outside of the city center. The city’s eclectic architectural design is reflected in the transitional styles.
Most commonly asked Questions
Who was Mumbai’s urban planner?
Sir George Gilbert Scott, who is responsible for the Georgian style of architecture, created the majority of the structures in Mumbai.
What is renowned about Mumbai’s architecture?
Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect who created the architecture in Mumbai, is honored. It is known as Georgian architecture.
What does “British colonial architecture” entail?
British colonial architecture is distinguished by rectangular designs, typically two stories, shutters, and a few pillars for decoration. It has a formal and rational design.
What impact does the environment have on how buildings are made?
By looking at the area around a building, an architect can figure out what basic amenities are available. It also affects how the sun and wind will move across the sky, as well as how the building will weather in general.
What landmark structures are there in Mumbai?
The Gothic complex, the High Court, the General Post Office, and other well-known buildings are all in Mumbai.
The names of Mumbai’s tallest structures
Skyscrapers are the tallest structures in Mumbai. Structures up to 900 meters tall are present, with an average height of around 500 meters.
What characterizes Indian architecture in particular?
Large pillars, detailed carvings, and elaborately decorated walls are the hallmarks of Indian architecture.
What distinguishing qualities can be found in Islamic construction?
Geometric patterns, big domes, and minarets are all distinctive elements of Islamic architecture.
What material is the architecture in Mumbai’s past made of?
Some of Mumbai’s oldest structures are built with locally available stones such as Malad, Granite, and Kurla stones. Their construction also included the use of cast iron, imported Portland stone, and red and blue sandstones.
In what ways does geography affect architecture?
The kinds of building materials accessible in a region depend on the geography of the area. Design considerations must take into account amenities and the effects of the weather.
What region was the birthplace of colonial architecture?
In the 1600s, when Europeans started setting up colonies all over the world, colonial construction took on a clear pattern and geometry for the first time.
What cultural influences can be seen in the architecture of Mumbai?
Architectural styles are all over the place in Mumbai. Its style and design are heavily influenced by the different cultures that have existed over time and space. Neo-Gothic and Venetian influences aren’t the only ones that can be seen in Mumbai’s architecture; there are also Islamic, German, Swiss, Italian, and ancient Indian influences.
What Mumbai structure is the city’s oldest?
The caves of Elephanta are among Mumbai’s oldest man-made structures. The oldest cast-iron building in the city is the Wilson Hotel.
How does architecture influence culture?
The architecture of a certain time shows how people lived and what the government was like. The materials and designs used during that time period were affected as a result.
The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does not take any responsibility or obligation for them.
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