Even if architecture is not among your prime interests when visiting a new city, in Mumbai seeing the architectural wonders is a must. I don’t know what it is about these colonial buildings made of yellowish basalt – glorious pride, unleashed imagination, creative courage or something else, but they’ve got deep under my skin – just see the related posts to this entry and you’ll get the idea!
Anyway, today I’d like to take you to the Rajabai Tower – an easternised version of Big Ben, situated in the Fort Campus of the University of Mumbai, opposite a big cricket field. The structure is ornate and exquisitely beautiful. The idea behind the design of the tower belongs to Sir Gilbert Scott who actually created it with Big Ben in mind. The construction began in 1896. Well, I’ve never seen London’s iconic clock tower in person, but if it’s half as majestic as its Mumbai analog, the talented architect made the right choice 🙂
The project was sponsored by Premchand Roychand, a wealthy broker and a founder of the Bombay Stock Exchange. Rajabai was a name of his mother, and so the tower was dedicated to her. They say the woman was blind. Also, she was known as a passionate Jain devotee. It’s no secret that the Jains are not supposed to have their dinner after dark, so the evening bell of the tower meant to help her make out the time and have her meal without relying on anyone’s assistance. Sounds like nothing more than a touching legend to me, but perhaps it was really true.
As any other building in South Mumbai, the Rajabai tower represents an interesting mix of styles – the Gothic architectural style is complimented by the oriental influences.
I’ve never heard any tunes played in the tower, but in the British times there were 16 of them and they used to change 4 times daily. “God Save the King”, “Rule Britannia” and “Home! Sweet Home!” are just to name a few.
Unfortunately, the tower is not open to the visitors. The reason is obvious – as many other touristic objects, from time to time the Rajabai tower was chosen as a place to commit suicidal attempts at. By the way, the height of the structure is 85 m.
So you can just walk around and admire its beauty and elegance. The High Court, another piece of the intricate architecture of the city, is located close to the University of Mumbai, so don’t forget to have a look at it as well. I always do 🙂
The Rajabai Tower, address:
Fort Campus, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Marg, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400032