The Port Trust War Memorial commemorates employees of the Bombay Port Trust who fell during World War I, as well as the Trust’s contribution to the British war effort. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Did you know that Ballard Estate, which was constructed in the early 20th century to be a premier business district, demonstrated Bombay's entry into a modern age, when it was placed firmly on the centre of the world sea trade map? Several factors played a part in making this happen, and paint the full picture, The Inheritage Project founder Alisha Sadikot will lead a walk through this historic neighbourhood on Sunday.
The Ballard Pier Mole railway station, which was shut in 1944. Pic courtesy/Bombay:âÂÂThe Cities Within
Architect George Wittet was hired by the Bombay Port Trust to plan Ballard Estate in 1907. Wittet, as part of his grand plan, insisted that there be uniformity in style and design throughout the neighbourhood, which was being built on 22 acres of reclaimed land. "This meant that anyone who was constructing a building in the area would receive permission to do so only if they met the criteria," shares Sadikot.
Grand Hotel opened its doors in 1926
Travel back in time
The neighbourhood is home to several landmarks, among them Grand Hotel, Britannia & Company Restaurant, and Hamilton Studios. Sadikot adds, "Back then, everyone who was anyone dropped by to be photographed at Hamilton Studios, which was Bombay's first photo studio."
The opening of Grand Hotel, she shares, indicated a change in the city's hospitality sector. "It was among the first places to afford guests anonymity. They didn't have to speak with or know the owners. It symbolised a growing city's shift towards modernity."
Also edging the city towards a modern era was the establishment of several prominent shipbuilding companies in Ballard Estate, such as the British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, established by Sir William Mackinnon and Robert Mackenzie in 1862, and its rival, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, the first wholly Indian shipping company.
The walk will also delve into the position Irani cafés, such as Boman Kohinoor's Britannia & Company Restaurant, held in the city
The big picture
While the two-hour walk will transport you to the early 20th century, it also puts the spotlight on the position Ballard Estate holds in the city today. "I try and situate my walks in the present, as much as possible. So, we'll also be discussing how the avenues in the area should be used for what they were meant to be - open and crucial connectors adding to the human scale and use of the neighbourhood," says Sadikot.
She adds, "This is not just a walk about architecture. Sure, we're looking at architectural landmarks in the neighbourhood, but I'll only be using them as a takeoff point to look at the bigger picture."
ON: May 7, 9 am to 11 am
Meeting point: The Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Fort.
LOG ON TO: insider.in
COST: Rs 600
A lesson in history
- Although Scottish architect George Wittet chose to go with a European, Neoclassical style for the buildings in Ballard Estate, ironically, he is best known for his Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, which he adopted — albeit reluctantly — while planning the Prince of Wales Museum (now CSMVS).
- Ballard Bunder Gatehouse was designed as the entrance to Ballard Pier. This original 'gateway' to Bombay was to be the point of arrival for passenger ships.
- The American national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, was composed in 1812 aboard the HMSâÂÂMinden, built by the Wadia family.
from travel http://www.mid-day.com/articles/travel-news-bombay-ballard-estate-architecture-mumbai-guide/18215173