East of Oval Maidan stretches Fort district, site of Mumbai’s original British settlement and first fort – hence the name. This is still the commercial hub of the southern city and a great area for aimless wandering, with plenty of old-fashioned cafés, department stores and street stalls crammed in between the stately Victorian piles.
At the heart of the district lies the spacious Horniman Circle, conceived in 1860 as the centrepiece of a newly-planned Bombay by the then Municipal Commissioner, Charles Forjett, on the site of Bombay’s “Green”. Later, the space served as a cotton market and parade ground. Flanking the east side of the circle, the impressive Town Hall on Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg was among the few buildings in Mumbai that pleased Aldous Huxley: “(Among) so many architectural cads and pretentious bounders,” he wrote in 1948, “it is almost the only gentleman.” The Doric edifice, dating from 1833, was originally built to house the vast collection of the Asiatic Society Library, still open to the general public (Mon–Sat 10am–7pm).Read More