It is a very little known fact that today’s Mumbai plays host to the second-largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world after Miami. Most visitors gape in awe at the city’s monumental Victorian Gothic buildings, and oftentimes overlook this other part of the city’s architectural heritage.
Bombay’s Art Deco buildings attest to a time when the city was a glitzy, glittering, fabulous, paradise of a metropolis (which Mumbai still is, of course, but in a different way). Many of these buildings – particularly the residences – were built by wealthy Parsis from the 1920s to the 1940s. The early ones have Arcadian English names like Oceana, Fairlawn and Green Fields.
There are two main areas where one finds residential Art Deco – the first is on the western flank of the Oval Maidan, where a row of residential Art Deco buildings stands facing the monumental Victorian Gothic civic buildings on the eastern flank of the Maidan.
The second is Marine Drive – Bombay’s jewel of an esplanade; 3 kilometres of exquisite Art Deco residences, echoing Miami Beach.
The tour takes the intrepid tourist across both these areas, and then, since we are there anyway, we take a leisurely jaunt up Malabar Hill – the abode of Bombay/Mumbai’s rich and wealthy – ending our tour at the Hanging Gardens where one gets a panoramic view of not only Marine Drive, but all of Bombay.
For a detailed inventory of all of Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings, visit the excellent site Art Deco Mumbai at http://www.artdecomumbai.com. This is a non-profit that has been meticulously photographing and documenting Art Deco buildings in Mumbai, in the hopes of securing conservation status for them.
Churchgate, Oval Maidan
Chowpatty Beach and Malabar Hill