The city of lights mesmerizes you when the clock strikes 7 in the evening and the colonial architecture of Mumbai shows its glamour. Mumbai truly instills a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day when a common man sits by the Arabian Sea and watches the world go by. Right from the swanky buildings built by the British to the luxurious stores, architecture in Mumbai is a heaven for art, history and culture lovers!
As you move towards the fort area of Mumbai, all you see is the stunning beauty of British architecture influenced by many Indian architects and designers. Right from the Government buildings, high-end residential areas, and colleges to touristy spots, architecture in Mumbai astonishes locals as well as tourists. To spectate all of it, check out this guide and book Treebo hotels in the city for a comfortable stay with your loved ones.
20 Places to Witness Colonial Architecture in Mumbai are –
1. Gateway of India
Your journey to Mumbai is all worth the hype when you visit the mesmerizing Gateway of India. Overlooking the mesmerizing Arabian Sea, it is a popular tourist destination for locals and tourists alike. Since Mumbai is known as the city of 7 islands, Gateway of India is an entryway to the city that never sleeps. While the foundation was laid in 1913, the structure was completed in 1924.
As you walk through the spacious area, all you see is the grandeur of the Indo-Saracenic architectural style. You can watch a blend of various styles inching a central dome, four turrets and intricate carvings. Yellow basalt and concrete were used to give it a rustic look. While it was used as an entryway into the South Mumbai Sea, it indeed elevates the charm of the city.
2. Rajabai Clock Tower
Pointed arches and stained windows characterize the renowned Rajabai Clock Tower. Built during the British colonial era, this stunning space is much more than just a clock tower. The construction was influenced by Premchand Roychand and later it was named after his mother, Rajabai. Today, it is a part of the University of Mumbai campus.
While you cannot directly enter the space, you can still watch its beauty from far away. The Neo-Gothic architecture is topped by intricate carvings and the usage of buff-coloured Kurla stone. As the name suggests, the structure is adored by a huge clock by the popular clockmaker Sir James William Benson of London. So, make sure to book affordable hotels nearby for a comfortable stay.
3. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Colonial architecture in Mumbai starts with the bustling Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and ends as you keep admiring its beauty. Previously known as Victoria Terminus, CSMT serves as a major Railway station connecting the city to other parts of India. It started in 1887 and is running smoothly to offer an exquisite experience in the world of glass windows and aesthetic interiors.
With gorgeous elements of architectural wonders including sculptures, mythological figures and fine detailing, the railway station stands strong as a definition of absolute art. The station serves as a prime example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture along with Indian essence. You can see sculpted animals, pointed arches and domes making a fusion of Indo-Saracenic style.
4. David Sassoon Library
As sassy as the name is, David Sassoon Library indeed has a unique history embracing its construction. It is one of the famous structures defining the combination of Gothic and Venetian architecture in Mumbai. Named after Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist David Sassoon, this colonial structure is best known for its Minton tiles and a grand facade.
Not to forget, David Sasson organized an architectural competition to build the library. J. Campbell and G.E. Gosling won the competition and created a masterpiece inspired by European and Indian styles. Featuring a high ceiling and huge windows, it gives you a luxurious feeling of stepping into something so thoughtful and rich!
5. Municipal Corporation Building
The Municipal Corporation Building, also known as the BMC Building, is one of the famous colonial structures in Mumbai. With wonderful architectural elements and a fusion of styles, the BMC building is now open to the public. You need to book a heritage walk tour and then watch the stunning Victorian-era interiors of the place.
Built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, the building features huge domes, minarets and turrets. British architect Frederick William Stevens worked with Sir Pherozeshah Mehta giving the building a combination of Indian and British look. It also has a terrace area which can be accessed if you take the heritage walk here.
6. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Oh, the adorable museum is all that you need to see to justify the splendid architecture in Mumbai! Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya was structured to welcome the visit of King George V of England. George Wittet won the architectural competition and put together British, Indian and Islamic architectural styles.
As you step into the garden outside, all you see is a remarkably huge dome attracting thousands of visitors. The statue of Buddha also adds elegance to this colonial building. The interiors as well as exteriors of this museum are decorated with intricate carvings and floral designs. The Indian influence is added by the use of red sandstone and marble.
7. Mumbai High Court
Whether a building that guards the law of Mumbai or a historic structure, architecture in Mumbai stands as an epitome of elegance. Mumbai High Court is again a perfect example of colonial-style buildings built with grey basalt. The huge space is known for its Victorian Gothic Revival style which offers a getaway into British influence.
One of the striking features of the place is the huge central dome highlighting the fusion of styles. While you cannot visit it from the inside, a tour around the area is always a delight. It has lengthy corridors, stained glass windows and detailed stonework too. The courtroom and well-designed talk of the grandeur of this place.
8. Wilson College
Did you know that colonial architecture in Mumbai is not limited to just structures and government buildings? You can literally walk into a college and watch all the architectural wonders on the campus. John Wilson started with the Bombay Scottish Orphanage which is today known as the Wilson College. Grand staircases, luxurious high ceilings and glass windows add charm to the Victorian era.
This huge college is inspired by Gothic Revival architecture and offers an opportunity to watch it closely. You can see a central tall tower with pointed windows. Moreover, it has also been featured in a Bollywood film due to its British-style designs and carvings. Arches and ornate detailing truly add elegance to it.
9. Mount Mary Church
Oh yes, even the places of worship in Mumbai have lived through the British colonial era. Mount Mary Church is one such popular place built in Gothic Revival architectural style. Portuguese Jesuit Missionaries built a small chapel nearby and that’s how the construction was inspired.
The church is decorated with illuminating lights and decorations during Christmas and people from all over the city travel to watch it. You get an opportunity to watch excellent work with arches, vaults and intricate carvings. With a large central dome and aesthetic interiors, the church is a fusion of modern-era detailing with age-old religious artwork.
10. Asiatic Society of Bombay
Architecture in Mumbai is not just Gothic and Victorian style. The colonial era welcomed many artists and historians to make Mumbai what it is today. One such was Sir James Mackintosh who established the library to promote Asian learning and culture. In today’s time, the library serves as a perfect example of Neo-classical architecture with lined columns.
The classic stairs and the white-washed structure add beauty to the city of dreams. Symmetry of the pillars exudes vibes of grandeur and tourists love to flock here! Surprisingly, Asiatic Society is one of the prime destinations for pre-wedding and maternity shoots owing to its wonderful triangular pediment.
If you are looking for a unique experience in Mumbai, you can take a peek at the huge Naval Dockyard to understand its long history. Established by the British East India Company, this dockyard was used as a repair facility. Later, it gained importance and was then converted into a British Naval base.
The dockyard is home to many workshops and areas designed by the British. It also has various administrative buildings that showcase significant features and modern developments. In today’s time, the dockyard blends an essence of history, security and pride of Mumbai.
12. St.Xavier’s College
St.Xavier’s College in Mumbai is an adorable educational institute where locals as well as tourists are attracted to view its beauty. Constructed in the year 1869, the college is known for its value-based education. The notable Neo-Gothic structure makes you feel like entering a castle in a movie!
It has pointed arches and stained windows exuding vibes of historic charm and pride. The interiors of the college also have high ceilings and spacious classrooms. Decorative elements and a huge courtyard truly allow you to witness the thought process of architects in the past. Moreover, it has expanded the premises offering a scenic glimpse into the old building.
13. Horniman Circle
The iconic buildings in Mumbai are sure to astonish you in the craziest way. Horniman Circle Gardens is one of the best places to gaze at colonial architecture in Mumbai. Basically, the huge garden is in the center and is surrounded by ancient-era buildings that form a circle shape.
As you walk through the paths, you can watch the fusion of modern-era brands showcasing their products in the buildings built during the British era. The entire place covers the David Sassoon Library, the Elphinstone Building and the eminent Esplanade Mansion. You can also take a heritage bus tour to watch the synchrony of art and history all at once.
14. Maharashtra Police Headquarters
The policemen who guard the city of Mumbai are guarded by a strong construction defining the beauty of British architectural style. While you cannot view the building from a close look, it is always a delight to watch the headquarters from a distance.
You can observe Gothic architecture with a fusion of modern styles. With glassed windows and a triangular top, the Maharashtra Police Headquarters is a perfect example of colonial architecture in Mumbai. The Indian flag right outside the building adds to the grandeur and elegance. It is best to book hotels in Mumbai for a comfortable stay.
15. Elphinstone College
Founded in the year 1856, Elphinstone College is a notable structure to observe Gothic Revival architecture. Mountstuart Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay, founded this college to provide higher education in the city. To date, the legacy of education and architecture remains the same.
Spread across a huge area, Elphinstone College consists of many arches and ornate columns. It also has a spacious quadrangle where you can watch the beautiful European and Indian elements from the center. It also features high ceilings and luxurious staircases to make it a heritage structure in Mumbai.
16. Flora Fountain
Constructed after the Roman Goddess Flora, this heritage structure features a classic history. Flora Fountain was initially placed at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan; however, it was later replaced at the Hutatma Chowk. You might be surprised to discover that Flora Fountain was built only to honour the visit of Sir Bartle Frere, the then Governor of Bombay.
In today’s time, you can see a sprawling fountain during evenings along with floral carvings. It is easy to feel a sense of royalty with a pointed ornate canopy above the Roman Goddess. Moreover, bas-reliefs are used to build the pedestal of the fountain. It truly stands as the epitome of grace and elegance of Mumbai.
17. Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum is yet another masterpiece defining the colonial architecture in Mumbai. It was constructed to honour the visit of Prince Albert Edward and was earlier named as Victoria and Albert Museum. Located adjacent to the Byculla Zoo, you can have a great time exploring the wonderful interiors of the museum.
The museum stands as a testament to jaw-dropping craftsmanship which combines Indian, Islamic and Western architectural styles. Designed by George Wittet, it is a great place to learn about the city’s history and culture through various exhibits. Mosaic flooring, minaret-like towers, ornate domes and sharp arches truly offer a dive into the history of Mumbai.
18. St. Thomas Cathedral
A notable place to unravel the history of architecture in Mumbai is the St. Thomas Cathedral. Constructed by Richard Cobbe in 1718, this church is one of the oldest places of worship in Mumbai. Moreover, the church has witnessed several wars including the Anglo-Maratha battle.
It is one of the best places to understand the fusion of traditional and Gothic architecture. You can walk through the elegant facade and capture the fine detailing. Usage of limestone and basalt adds a rustic touch to the structure. Stained glass windows, wooden pews, the churchyard and the choir section define the true beauty of this place.
19. Post and Telegraph Building
Popularly known as the General Post Office, this building is a significant addition to the list of colonial architecture in Mumbai. British architect John Begg designed the building for officers to communicate with the surrounding regions. While the construction started in 1904, the building was ready in 1913 as a masterpiece defining Victorian and Gothic Revival architecture.
This classic architecture combines Islamic influences with a central dome and minarets. If you observe closely, you can catch a glimpse of intricacy in carvings and pointed arches. Ornamental ceilings on the inside well describe the preferred taste of British officers. It also has huge balconies, stained glass windows and aesthetically pleasing chambers.
20. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, also known as the Taj, is one of the legendary structures in Mumbai defining grandeur, grace and elegance. Right opposite the Arabian Sea, it is a spectacular building exuding vibes of luxury. It is an Indian construction of the colonial period hence, you can observe an influence of various styles.
The Indo-Saracenic architectural style combines Islamic and Indian elements. Some of the European architectural traditions can also be seen in the striking design. Stone carvings and elegant arches make this hotel an absolute wonder. It is indeed a satisfying time to watch the fusion of sandstone and red basalt.
As you walk through the stunning buildings adorned with colonial architecture in Mumbai, you get an opportunity to delve into the city’s rich history. Witnessing the beauty of the architecture is indeed a soul healing journey.