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PICS: Snapshots of a city that never sleeps

Last updated on: May 3, 2013 17:51 IST

PICS: Snapshots of a city that never sleeps

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Simin Patel/Bombaywalla.org

Bombaywalla.org attempts to make sense of the city that never sleeps. Snapshots from a website dedicated to Mumbai.

Bombaywalla is a website that encourages and assists in knowing city structures. It highlights the various architectural wonders -- big and small, elite and everyday -- that make Bombay a great metropolis.

By including the former and present names of streets and structures it strives to make sense of the past and present. The website is updated on Mondays and Fridays of every week with a photograph and brief history of a structure in the city.

The Red Building

Parsi Bazaar Street, Elphinstone Circle, Fort, (presently S A Belvi Marg, Horniman Circle)

The Red Building houses the offices of The Bombay Samachar (1822), Asia's oldest newspaper. Formerly the premises were also used by the Bombay Chronicle (1913-1949); after whose editors, Benjamin Guy Horniman and Syed Abdullah Brelvi, the Circle and Street, have been renamed.

Photographs and text courtesy: Bombaywalla.org

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Royal Alfred Sailors' Home (1876)

Junction of Apollo Bunder Road and Apollo Street (presently Maharashtra Police Headquarters, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Colaba, entry prohibited).

The construction of the Sailors' Home was a significant step towards containing and domesticating the population of seamen in the city, long considered drunk, disorderly and prone to recreate at taverns, boarding houses, grog shops and brothels. Notice the three nautical motifs.

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Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw (1857- 1939, Statue 1949)

Churchgate Street (presently Veer Nariman Road)

Often, to Hormusjee's full name was added another surname 'Adenwalla'. In the 1800's individuals chose to fashion their identity with surnames that usually reflected an occupation or a native or contemporary place of residence.

Hormusjee made a more convincing Adenwalla in Bombay than in the port city of Aden in Yemen, where everyone was technically an Adenwalla. A small ceremony to garland the statue is held every year on April 4, Hormusjee's birthday.

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Image: Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw


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St. Thomas' Cathedral (1718)

Churchgate Street, Fort (presently Veer Nariman Road)

St. Thomas' Cathedral, initially called Bombay Church, was located at the heart of the Fort, the walled settlement within which the city's early inhabitants lived. Church Gate, one of the three gates of the Fort, was named after this church, consecrated into a cathedral in 1837.The Fort walls were demolished in 1864.

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Image: St Thomas' Cathedral


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Town Hall (1833)

Fort (presently Asiatic Society of Mumbai).

The temperament of the gargoyles in Bombay is determined by the style of the structures from which they protrude. This benign creature belongs to the solid, calm facade of the Town Hall, a landmark city structure, in neo-classical style. Bombaywalla's coverage of gargoyles will range from the benign to the spectacularly grotesque.

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Image: Town Hall


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Medows Street, Fort

(Presently Nagindas Master Road)

Medows Street holds the dubious distinction of the most corrupted street name in the city. Named after General Sir William Medows, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bombay from 1788-90, the street was locally referred to as the Ingrez or Angrezi Bazaar since it housed a profusion of European shops.

By the 1860's 'Medows' had been distorted to 'Medow' and subsequently 'Meadow' and 'Meadows'.

The correct address can be found on the signboard of the Commercial Watch Company.

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Image: Medows Street, Fort


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BB&CI Railway Administrative Offices (1899) 

Churchgate (presently Western Railway Head Office)

2013 is an important anniversary year for the Indian Railways and their structures. The first passenger train left Bombay for Thana on April 16th 1853, 160 years ago, hauled by three locomotives named Sindh, Sultan and Sahib. The facade of the Bombay, Baroda & Central India (BB&CI) Railway Administrative Offices has been lit up this week in celebration. A Google Doodle marks the 160-year anniversary.

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Image: BB&CI Railway Administrative Offices


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Pradeep Gomantak Bhojnalaya (1970)

Sheri House, Gunbow Street, Fort (presently Rustom Sidhwa Marg).

Dashrath Pundalik Amonkar, proprietor of the Bhojnalaya (eating house), began his career in catering supplying dabbas (tiffins) to Maharashtrian migrants to Bombay. In 1970 he set up the Bhojnalaya, which can seat up to 25 customers.

An article from the newspaper Lokmat (displayed on premises) notes that the Bhojnalaya has a loyal and cosmopolitan clientele despite the presence of more elaborate eating houses in the Fort locality.

Prices ranges from Rs 60 for the Vegetarian Rice Plate to Rs 150 for the Pomplet Rice Plate.

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Image: Pradeep Gomantak Bhojnalaya


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Meher Cold Drink House (1939)

Mackawee Mansion, corner of Gunbow Street and Parsi Bazaar Street, Fort (presently Rustom Sidhwa Marg).

Well into the late 1800's, strict caste and purity codes prevented the experience of inter-dining amongst the native populations of Bombay. Pan-supari, rosewater and nosegays, were distributed at the end of public/semi public gatherings, but no food.

As the benefits of inter-dining were felt, cold drinks were first introduced for consumption, gradually making way for solid foods.

Meher Cold Drink House, although a sprightly 74, is an example of the early establishments that facilitated the experience of cosmopolitan drinking and eventually dining.

Young Bombaywalla was introduced to the delights of Meher Cold Drink House by her mother Veera, a regular at the unassuming eateries in the Fort.

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Image: Meher Cold Drink House


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Motifs: St. Thomas' Cathedral (1718)

Churchgate Street, Fort (presently Veer Nariman Road) 

The colonial government regularly reminded Bombay's citizenry that it subsidized the cost of divine worship at St. Thomas' Cathedral. Pew rents, a common means through which churches generated income by charging worshippers for the use of pews, were not imposed, states city directories from the late 1800's. 

Notice a lady's Louis Vuitton handbag in the corner that could well do with subsidising.

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