India // Mumbai //

Around Oval Maidan

Northeast of Kala Ghoda stretches the breezy green Oval Maidan, where impromptu cricket matches are held almost every day. Some of the city’s finest Victorian piles flank the eastern side of the Maidan, offering a good taste of what travel writer Robert Byron described as the city’s “architectural Sodom” (adding, “Indian, Swiss chalet, French chateau, Giotto’s tower, Siena cathedral & St Peter’s are to be found altogether in almost every building”). Just north of here lies the characteristically ostentatious High Court, described in 1903 by Indian civil servant G.W. Forrest as “a massive pile whose main features have been brought from Venice, but all the beauty has vanished in transshipment”.

Across AS D’Mello Road from the High Court are two major buildings belonging to Mumbai University (established 1857), which were designed in England by Sir Gilbert Scott, architect of the Gothic extravaganza that is London’s St Pancras railway station. Funded by the Parsi philanthropist Cowasjee “Readymoney” Jehangir, the Convocation Hall greatly resembles a church. The library is topped by the 79.2-metre-high Rajabhai Clock Tower, which is said to have been modelled on Giotto’s campanile in Florence and which formerly chimed tunes such as Rule Britannia and Home Sweet Home.