Windows: Byculla Railway Station (1891)
De Lisle Road and Parel Road, Byculla.
The icons of Byculla seem to have spent portions of their long history relocating or contemplating relocating- the Khada Parsi statue was shifted from the junction of Bellasis and Clare Road to the junction of Clare and Parel Road in 1928; the Byculla Club regularly threatened to relocate from Bellasis Road to the Fort; and the Byculla Railway Station moved a little northwards to its present grand structure on Parel Road in 1891.
Yet it is inconceivable to imagine a Bombay without the Byculla Railway Station. It is a reminder of how Byculla served as the second city centre, after the Fort, for much of the 19th century.
The Mid-Day has recently reported the dismantling of the Station for the expansion of the railway lines between VT and Kurla. This would be an unsurmountable loss to the city and must be stopped.
This intricate ticket counter with the monogram of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) is just one of the examples of the fine architectural embellishments we are at the risk of losing.
Facades: Gloria Church (1913)
Guest Post by Naresh Fernandes.
Gloria Church contains a memorial stone to an almost-forgotten Bombay character: the Goan opium trader Sir Roger de Faria.
Faria made his fortune shipping opium to China, but lost his wealth rather suddenly. His decline had its roots in an event in 1834, when the Liberal government in Portugal appointed the first native-born Goan, Bernado Peres da Silva, as Prefect of Portuguese India. Within weeks of taking charge Peres was deposed by the territory’s whites and mestiços. He eventually made his way to Bombay, where his friend and host, Sir Roger, agreed to finance an expeditionary force to help him recapture office.
The five-ship force sailed out from Bombay harbour towards Goa on May 27, 1835 – and ran straight into the advancing monsoon. Two gunboats were wrecked and the rest of the sorry armada limped back to Bombay with heavy casualties. Peres was unable to pay back his debts to Sir Roger, tipping the opium trader into bankruptcy. He lived out the rest of his life on a pension granted to him by his friend Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy.
When Sir Roger de Faria died in 1848, his funeral, writes Teresa Albuquerque, was attended by many beggars, “the poor, the aged, the halt and the blind”.
Naresh Fernandes is the editor of the digital daily Scroll.in and the author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay and Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age. He is the conscience of our city.
Photo by Byculla boy Badani, whose first job was under Sir Fernandes’ editorship of Time Out magazine.
Byculla was the most fashionable locality in mid 19th century Bombay. Hosting a number of dressmaking, millinery and outfitting establishments as well as reputable family hotels with substantial garden facilities, Byculla particularly catered to female visitors and residents of the city.
Byculla boy Badani at his best.
Windows: Victoria and Albert Museum (1872)
Victoria Gardens, Parel Road, Byculla.
(presently Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr. Ambedkar Road).
There were no plans to include Prince Albert’s name along with Queen Victoria’s in the title of the proposed museum in Byculla. But with Albert’s sudden death on 14th December, 1861, at the age of 42, it was thought fitting to include his name in the title of institution.
When the Victoria Museum and Garden’s Committee asked whether the sprawling gardens surrounding the museum should also bear Albert’s name, the secretarial office in London clarified: ‘it is Her Majesty’s wish that the Horticultural Gardens should be considered under her peculiar and personal patronage and protection.’