Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Horniman Circle Gardens, Mumbai, a colonial legacy

Horniman Circle Gardens, Mumbai. Shutterstock
The Horniman Circle Gardens, Mumbai, en.wikipedia.  
Above image: Town Hall part of Elphinstone Circle Gardens, c. 1905.............

Among the Indian cities of Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai  that are endowed with lots of colonial structures, the ones at Mumbai are quite interesting and inspiring. Being a harbor city, the British paid much attention to this city's developments. Major restructuring of Bombay city was under taken in the 1860s. Elphinstone Circle Gardens (Horniman Circle Gardens) was one of the early projects undertaken in Bombay.  It was the first major urban development planning undertaken in this part of the region. 

The Horniman Circle Gardens  that was laid in the 18th century is a large park in the heart of South Mumbai, India, covering  an area of 12,081 square yards (10,101 m2). it is encircled by nice buildings -mostly colonial structures  that house well-known banks and companies. In the colonial period, it was called Bombay Green and it was designed  to be a large open space surrounded by  buildings in the middle of the walled city. Whereas the the area around the open space was called Elphinstone Circle. In 1947, after India's freedom, it was renamed as Horiniman circle in honour of Benjamin Horniman, editor of the Bombay Chronicle newspaper.  He was an ardent supporter of native Indian's self rule. Besides, he was the one who got the attention of the world media about the true story of the Jallianwala  Bagh  massacre on 13  April 1919 at Amritsar despite the British government's efforts to suppress the news.

The space, where the Bombay Gardens stood, was
a useless place in the early colonial time; in the 1840s,
it became  a dumping ground of coconut shells and debris. Though the construction work was going elsewhere, it did not start here. Upon visit to this site and its location, it dawned on the Police Commissioner Charles Forjett to convert the Green into a circle surrounded by buildings. His proposal had a full support from  Lord Elphinstone and Sir Bartle Frère. As part of Bombay urban development project, the work went on from 1860 and completed in 1872. To beautify the Green, well-laid out  walk ways  were built and  trees planted all around. The whole complex  with an ornamental fountain at the center was then renamed Elphinstone Circle after the Governor, Lord John Elphinstone.
Horniman Circle , Mumbai. Rajitha Gopinath - WordPress.com
The park became  a  regular venue for the the local Parsi community for their social activities. Close by are the Asiatic Society of Bombay overlooking the Horniman Circle Gardens and the Reserve Bank of India.and St. Thomas Cathedral, the first Anglican church in Mumbai, completed in 1718. Two important annual events that take place  here: Sufi and mystic music festival, Ruhaniyat  and Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. Lots of people attend them.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horniman_Circle_Gardens

 https://www.mumbai.org.uk/parks-gardens/horniman-circle-gardens.html